How to Use a Reel Mower


Reel mowers are an environmentally friendly way to keep your lawn in top shape. They require nothing but manpower to use and take up little storage space in your garage or shed. They are suited best to smaller lawns without steep hills, otherwise they take more effort to use. Reel mowers cut grass to a uniform height. Some are available with grass catchers, but the grass from a reel mower is chopped so short it is beneficial to leave it on the lawn to add nitrogen to the soil.

Step 1

Check the height of your mowing blades. Turn the reel mower upside down and locate the nut on the blade. Loosen it and adjust the height of the blade to 2 to 2.5 inches before mowing.

Step 2

Remove any pine cones, large twigs and rocks from the lawn. These damage reel mower blades and may jam up the rotary movement of the mower.

Step 3

Begin mowing on one side of the lawn, pushing the mower in a straight line. Turn the mower when you reach the lawn's edge and mow a second strip next to the first, overlapping the strips by 2 to 3 inches. Continue mowing in strips until finished.

Step 4

Rinse off the excess grass on the mower's blades with a garden hose. Allow the blades to air dry then store the mower until the next use.

Step 5

Oil all moving parts of the reel mower in the spring before the first use and again in the fall before winter storage. Oiling the blades lightly also prevents rust during winter.

Tips and Warnings

  • The blades on reel mowers are sharp. Wear heavy gloves and use caution when cleaning and maintaining the blades. Not all reel mowers are the same. Check the owner's manual before servicing or adjusting the blade height.

Things You'll Need

  • Oil


  • Ohio State University Extension: Lawn Mowing
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Mowing Practices
Keywords: reel mowers, push lawnmower, lawn maintenance

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.