Can a Reel Mower Cut Tall Grass?

4.1/5 - (787 votes)

In the quest for a perfectly manicured lawn, homeowners and garden enthusiasts often find themselves at a crossroads when selecting the right tools for lawn care. Among the myriad of options, the reel mower stands out for its unique cutting mechanism and eco-friendly operation. But when faced with towering blades of grass, can this traditional mower rise to the challenge?

Understanding the Reel Mower

A reel mower operates with a set of blades that spin vertically, engaging in a scissoring action to cut grass. This method differs significantly from the horizontal cutting motion of standard lawn mowers. Designed to provide lawns with a clean, healthy appearance, reel mowers excel on shorter grass, offering a precision cut that’s often sought after by golf course owners for its tidiness and health benefits.

The Challenge of Tall Grass

When it comes to tall grass varieties such as Frost grass, Blue Heaven Little Bluestem, Porcupine grass, Hardy Pampas Grass, and Fountain grass, reel mowers face a considerable challenge. The design and cutting mechanism of these mowers, which mimic the action of scissors, are not conducive to efficiently managing tall grass.

Why Reel Mowers Struggle with Height

The primary obstacle for reel mowers in tall grass is their manual operation and lack of a powerful engine, which is crucial for cutting through dense, tall vegetation. Even motorized versions, which cut grass perpendicularly, find it difficult to manage tall grass effectively due to the orientation and operation mode of their blades.

How High Can a Reel Mower Go?

Practically, reel mowers can handle grass slightly taller than their standard cutting height, usually up to four inches. Beyond this length, the efficiency and effectiveness of the mower drastically decrease, making it a less suitable option for long grass.

Selecting the Best Mower for Tall Grass

When confronted with tall grass, alternative mowing solutions might be more appropriate. Self-propelled push mowers and riding lawn mowers emerge as superior options for tackling tall and dense grass with ease and efficiency.

  • Self-Propelled Push Mowers: These mowers reduce the physical exertion needed to mow the lawn, making the task easier and more manageable.
  • Riding Lawn Mowers: For expansive or particularly challenging lawns, riding mowers offer the best combination of speed and efficiency, making short work of tall grass.

Additionally, certain reel mowers with a 14-inch rotating blade and adjustable height settings up to 1.75 inches can somewhat manage taller grass. Selecting a mower with high-quality, heat-treated alloy steel blades can also make a significant difference in performance.

Caring for Your Lawn

Regardless of the grass height, proper lawn care and maintenance are essential for a healthy, aesthetically pleasing outdoor space. For more insights and tips on lawn care and choosing the right mowers, explore detailed guides and resources at Lawn Care Basics and Lawn Mowers & Tractors.

Enhancing Your Lawn Maintenance Routine

Integrating tools like electric pressure washers can further elevate your lawn care routine, ensuring your outdoor space remains pristine. Addressing common issues, such as mulching mower clumps, and understanding the pros and cons of mulching leaves, can also contribute to a healthier lawn. Additionally, exploring whether mulching blades work on leaves can offer insights into optimizing your lawn care practices.


reel vs rotary

While reel mowers have their place in lawn care, especially for maintaining short, manicured grass, their effectiveness diminishes with taller grass types. For those dealing with taller grass, exploring alternative mowing options that cater to dense growth will ensure your lawn remains in top condition, reflecting the care and effort invested in its upkeep.

About the author

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