Reel Mowers vs Rotary Mowers

5/5 - (646 votes)

In the quest for the perfect lawn, homeowners are often faced with the decision between reel mowers and rotary mowers. Each has its unique advantages and disadvantages, making the choice a significant one for the health of your lawn and your overall mowing experience. Let’s dive into the specifics to help you make an informed decision.

Quality of Cut

Why Reel Mowers Excel: Reel mowers are known for their precision cutting ability. They operate with blades that spin vertically and function much like scissors, which means they cut the grass cleanly without tearing it. This method helps in preventing diseases and keeps your lawn healthier.

Rotary Mowers: These mowers use a horizontally spinning blade, which often results in a less uniform cut and can damage the grass blades by tearing them. While they are versatile, the quality of cut is generally lower compared to reel mowers.

Safety Considerations

Reel Mowers: Push reel mowers are significantly safer. They lack the mechanism to throw objects, such as rocks, which significantly reduces the risk of injury. Plus, when you stop pushing, the blades stop spinning.

Rotary Mowers: These machines can present more hazards, including the risk of throwing debris and potential burns from hot engines.


AspectReel MowersRotary Mowers
Blade SharpeningRequires more frequent sharpening but is straightforwardLess frequent, with only one or two blades needing attention
Physical EffortIncreased when blades are dullEasier to push, regardless of blade condition

Terrain Suitability

Reel Mowers: Best for flat terrains and small to medium-sized lawns where the grass is kept regularly trimmed.

Rotary Mowers: Ideal for larger areas with varying terrain types, including uneven ground.


Initial Cost: Reel mowers are generally less expensive upfront.

Maintenance Costs: Rotary mowers may incur higher long-term costs due to fuel or electricity usage and maintenance.

Noise Level

Reel mowers are nearly silent, making them neighbor-friendly, whereas rotary mowers can be quite loud, potentially disturbing the peace.

Environmental Impact

Reel mowers are the clear winner for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint, as they emit no pollutants.

Weight and Maneuverability

Despite their simplicity, reel mowers can be lighter and easier to maneuver around your yard, making them a convenient option for those with storage space concerns.

Choosing the Right Mower for Your Lawn

When selecting between a reel and rotary mower, consider the following:

Cutting Height and Grass Type: Reel mowers are better for shorter, finer grass types, while rotary mowers can handle a broader range of grass heights and types.

Lawn Size: Reel mowers shine in smaller yards, whereas rotary mowers are suited for larger spaces.


reel vs rotary

Deciding between a reel and a rotary mower boils down to your specific lawn needs, personal safety, maintenance preferences, and environmental considerations. Armed with the insights provided, you’re now better equipped to choose the mower that will best suit your lawn care regimen, ensuring a healthy, beautiful yard.

About the author

Beth Walton is inspired by Edwin Budding who created the first lawn mower & She loves to write, test & review about it.