I Review Lawn Mowers for a Living, and Here’s My Experience with the Earthwise Reel Mower (2024)

Updated: Jun. 13, 2024

The Earthwise Reel Mower is a reel mower I tested in my backyard for a month. After the first use, my jaw was on the floor.

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Those of you who have yet to use a reel mower are missing out on an experience that can connect you to your yard in a new way. Reel mowers are one of the most straightforward ways to mow your lawn, falling to third place behind the scythe and maybe owning a goat or cow. Reel mowers are what your grandparents used back when they would scavenge the neighborhood trying to make a nickel to buy the latest gadget or whatchamacallit (this is what my Grandpa always said). But unlike other technologies that have come and gone, reel mowers are making a comeback—starting with the Earthwise Reel Mower.

The thing I like about reel mowers is that they are straightforward. For those of us who have ever used a “brick” cellphone and now have a fancy smartphone, don’t you miss the simplicity? I fondly remember pulling up the antenna on my phone, calling my mom, and then simply turning the phone off. This eventually evolved into my ringtone (Chingy, “Right Thurr”) days and now has turned into a full-blown addiction where I am so reliant on my phone that I sometimes want to throw it into the ocean.

Ok, back to the topic at hand. Wondering why you should go for a reel mower instead of something more techy? We consulted with Gene Cabellero at GreenPal to find out his expert take.

“Reel mowers are an excellent choice for environmentally conscious homeowners because they don’t produce emissions like gas-powered mowers,” Cabellero explains. “They’re quieter, allowing lawn care without neighborhood disturbances. These mowers offer a cleaner cut by slicing the grass like scissors, promoting healthier lawn growth and reducing disease risk.”

In many ways, lawnmowers have become too complicated. Don’t get me wrong—I love a new electric lawn mower, but I often yearn for the days of old. Gas-powered lawn mowers, particularly the new electric and battery-powered mowers, tend to make life more complex. Multiple battery systems, maintenance, the inability to repair parts, too many moving parts, difficulty storing the mower, noise levels, exhaust, and the worst of them all—the high cost. Can’t someone just make it simple?

The answer to my woes was right under my nose. I got a chance to try out a half dozen reel mowers and was blown away by my experience. While I thought reel mowers would be difficult and annoying, I was committed to the experiment. Mind you, I’ve recently tested out some big-time mowers in my backyard, like the Toro TimeCutter zero-turn mower. I dreaded having to push a reel mower all over my yard. Nevertheless, I persisted–and I’m glad I did.

What is the Earthwise Reel Mower?

I Review Lawn Mowers for a Living, and Here’s My Experience with the Earthwise Reel Mower (1)ALEX KRONK FOR FAMILY HANDYMAN

The Earthwise Reel Mower appeared at my door and sat on my kitchen table for a few days. I thought it was a package for my wife. After a day or two, I got annoyed and finally opened it. It was a lawn mower inside what I thought was a shoebox. My recent experiences assembling Ikea furniture and cribs for our baby had me almost give up right then and there. This would be a set of Legos as a lawn mower.

But nothing could have been further from the truth. The box came out with a few simple pieces that fit together easily. A simple turn of the knob, an Allen wrench, and sliding a few pieces together—boom, I was ready to go.

Once I had it set up in my garage, my wife came by with a simple, “That’s it?” What she expressed wasn’t judgment but shock that this mower was something she could easily use—which she did.

The primary reason people buy this mower is its incredibly low price. The hook is the price, but its simplicity keeps people coming back for more. No maintenance schedule, storage concerns, or expensive batteries keep people pushing this type of mower year after year.

I Review Lawn Mowers for a Living, and Here’s My Experience with the Earthwise Reel Mower (2)ALEX KRONK FOR FAMILY HANDYMANALEX KRONK FOR FAMILY HANDYMAN

I Tried It

Earthwise Reel Mower

A simple, understated mower perfect for small yards

Earthwise Reel Mower Features

The Earthwise Reel Mower is 18 inches wide, which is the ideal size for smaller lawns. For comparison’s sake, most gas-powered and electric push mowers with a spinning propeller-type blade are around 20-21 inches wide but can vary from 14-30 inches.

The 18-inch width is enough to cover the lawn with each pass without becoming so wide that it is too difficult to push.

The mower also comes with five blades. Blades matter when it comes to reel mowers, and you should know some general rules before buying one. More blades equals more cutting. It sounds simple, but you need more blades for warm-season grasses to ensure a close cut to the surface of the lawn. For warm-season grasses, five to eight blades will get the job done well. Cool season and transitional grasses require fewer blades because the grass height is much longer and doesn’t require the fine shave that shorter grasses do. I’d recommend three to five blades for cool-season grasses on a reel mower.

I tried out a few reel mowers with T-shaped handles, and it was very easy to lose control and move off track. The straight handlebar on this mower makes it straightforward to control. Reel mowers can also come with additional wheels on the back that help adjust the mower’s height. They also help keep the mower balanced to stand up straight for storage. The cheapest reel mowers don’t have this feature, so seeing it on the Earthwise was a nice, luxurious bonus.

How I Tested It

I Review Lawn Mowers for a Living, and Here’s My Experience with the Earthwise Reel Mower (3)ALEX KRONK FOR FAMILY HANDYMAN

I tested this Earthwise reel mower in my backyard for a month. I’ve tested over 30 lawnmowers in my backyard, so it is a great place to compare this mower across all types.

While the stigma around reel mowers is that they are hard to push, I would disagree. Reel mowers aren’t hard to push—except for the first push. Once you get going, momentum carries the mower across the yard through the action of the blades and the gentle push you provide. I noticed that this reel mower is just under 25 pounds fully assembled. Compare that to my Honda gas mower, which is over 70 pounds. Yes, the reel mower requires some force to cut the grass, but the experience is similar to pushing a gas-powered mower overall.

There aren’t good options for bagging clippings when using a push mower, which is fine. I often get on my soapbox about how important it is to let your grass clippings provide nutrients to the rest of your lawn. The Earthwise reel mower had a very satisfying way of flinging the clippings into the air and showing proof that your mowing was working. Overall, it was a great experience.

As I mentioned, my wife also gave this mower a whirl. We both noticed immediately that we could talk while she was doing it. While most mowers require ear protection to keep out the intense noise that even electric mowers still make, this mower is peaceful and quiet and lets you listen to music or converse pretty easily while mowing your lawn.


  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive
  • Quiet
  • No maintenance
  • Completely eco-friendly


  • Requires some effort
  • More narrow


Who makes Earthwise mowers?

American Lawn Mower Company manufactures Earthwise mowers and other reel mower suites.

How long should a reel mower last?

With the occasional sharpening, reel mowers should last a lifetime.

Are reel mowers noisy?

Reel mowers produce virtually no noise.

Earthwise Reel Mower vs. Scotts Reel Mower

The Earthwise reel mower and the Scotts reel mower both offer an 18-inch cutting experience on your lawn. The Scotts mower has a few differences, including a modified handle that allows horizontal or vertical grip (almost like a bike with side handles) and has more blades. I recommend the Scotts mower for folks that have warm-season grass. The two additional blades will work much better with shorter grasses that need a “trim” versus the long, tall fescue, which is more suitable for mowers with five or fewer blades. The Earthwise is an excellent mower for those in transitional and cool-season zones, whereas the Scotts is better for folks in the deep South.

From a price perspective, the Earthwise is a bit cheaper than the Scotts reel mower. Frankly, both are great options but are designed for different audiences.

Final Verdict

I recommend buying the Earthwise reel mower for folks with smaller lawns who are okay with having an alternative mowing experience. It has a great combination of price, ease of use, and cutting ability that helps you have a simplified lawn mowing experience. Getting back to the basics and connecting with your backyard through some good old-fashioned elbow grease will give you a sense of pride in your lawn that you can’t get through a super-expensive machine or landscaper.

Where to Buy the Earthwise Reel Mower

I Review Lawn Mowers for a Living, and Here’s My Experience with the Earthwise Reel Mower (4)ALEX KRONK FOR FAMILY HANDYMANALEX KRONK FOR FAMILY HANDYMAN

Shop on Amazon

I Tried It

Earthwise Reel Mower

A reel mower that requires no maintenance or upkeep

Shop on Amazon

The Earthwise reel mower costs around $100-$140, depending on whether or not it is on sale. It goes on sale frequently on Amazon, which is where mine is from.

I Review Lawn Mowers for a Living, and Here’s My Experience with the Earthwise Reel Mower (2024)


Why did people stop using reel mowers? ›

Reel mowers fell out of favor in the 1960s and '70s, probably as yard sizes increased and kids started rebelling against pushing mowers through grass while their friends didn't have to. Self-propelled mowers made it easy to cut the lawn with little effort on anyone's part.

Do reel mowers actually work? ›

Manual reel mowers are efficient and environmentally friendly, but it's still a slower option than using a gas mower.

Are reel mowers better than blade mowers? ›

Although both types of mowers have height adjustment features, reel mowers perform better at lower mowing heights, giving a clean, consistent finish with the grass blades usually just under an inch. They are used frequently in golf courses or other sports fields mowed at least five times a week to keep the grass short.

Why aren t reel mowers more popular? ›

Mine is barely harder to push than a gasoline mower. There are two drawbacks: 1) To get an even cut you often have to go over an area twice at a right angle. 2) If you let the grass get too long it simply doesn't work: the reel will just push over the blades instead of cutting them.

Why do reel mowers cut better? ›

Field of Play. For finely conditioned turf, Guilfoil says, reel mowers are the way to go, as they can cut lower with greater precision. The cut with a reel mower is also sharper and cleaner, Guilfoil says, which is healthier for the grass.

How long should a reel mower last? ›

Reel mowers will last for many years if you keep them clean and sharpen the blades periodically. If you find yourself not having the time to mow often with a reel mower, or you've gotten a larger yard, then you should consider replacing it with a powered mower.

What are the disadvantages of a reel mower? ›

You'll also need to clean up any debris (twigs, leaves, etc.) from your yard before mowing since reel mowers can't go over anything that's not grass. In addition, since most reel mowers are manual, they do require some physical effort to operate, which might not be everyone's cup of tea.

Which is better, a 5 blade or 7 blade reel mower? ›

If the lawn is maintained every week, they need the 7-blade. If they deal with lawns that have not been cut in a long time, the need a 5 blade.

Do reel mowers work on long grass? ›

The more the blades, the more does the mower lose the ability to mow taller grass, because the space between individual blades is smaller. Thus, only shorter grass blades will manage to get into the reel. The maximum mowing height of a self-propelled reel mower is usually between 8 and 10 mm.

When did they stop making reel to reel? ›

1980s: Most manufacturers discontinued reel-to-reel tape recorders as digital the digital revolution took over. Teac/Tascam and Otari are the last R2R brands standing. 2010s: The analog revival sees a huge resurgence in vintage stereo equipment, primarily with vinyl recordings.

Are reel mowers better for the environment? ›

Manual reel mowers are more environmentally friendly than rotary mowers because they do not use gas. Electric and gas mowers require energy, and that energy requires fossil fuel.

Why did lawn mower stop? ›

There are several reasons why your lawn mower might start and then suddenly stop. The most common reasons include old fuel, a clogged air filter, or a carburettor that needs cleaning. Another possibility is a problem with the spark plug or the ignition system.

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