How to Use a Push Reel Mower


Before gasoline-powered lawn mowers became popular, homeowners used reel mowers to keep the grass in their yards trimmed. Today, push reel mowers are a greener alternative to lawn mowing with fuel-powered machines. Modern reel mowers are made of steel that keeps a sharper edge than old-fashioned models. Some even come with baskets to catch grass clippings. With few moving parts, reel mowers are easy to maintain. They're quiet and they always start. Push reel mowers work best for smaller lawns on fairly even ground.

Step 1

Set the cutting height on your mower. Lower or raise the cutting assembly by removing the nut found on each side of the cutting assembly, toward the back of the mower. Once the nut is off, you can slip out the bolt on each side of the cutting assembly and raise or lower the cutting assembly, using the guide shown on the roller bracket to set the height. Slip the bolt into the top hole on the bracket to lower the assembly to its lowest level and into the bottom hole to raise the cutting assembly to its highest level. Once you've adjusted both sides of the cutting assembly to the height you want, secure the nuts back on the bolts and tighten. Most lawns do best when cut at a mower height of two to four inches.

Step 2

Push the mower in front of you in a straight line across the yard. Walk at a smooth, steady pace. If you mow horizontally across the yard one time, you should mow vertically the next time.

Step 3

Overlap each pass of the mower two inches, or the width of the mower's wheel, with the previous pass. If you come to a section of particularly thick or long grass, run the mower back and forth over it a few times until all the grass is cut.

Step 4

For corners, push the mower back and forth to reach all the grass in the corners, with a motion similar to what you would use if vacuuming the corner of a room.

Tips and Warnings

  • Though reel mowers aren't powered by gas or electric, they are sharp; keep fingers and toes away from the blades.


  • Push Mowers 101: How to Use a Push Reel Mower
  • Earth Easy: Switching to a Reel Mower

Who Can Help

  • University of Rhode Island: Lawn Mowing Fact Sheet
Keywords: reel mowers, push reel mowers, greener alternative to lawn mowing

About this Author

Cynthia James is the author of more than 40 novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from Modern Bride to Popular Mechanics. A graduate of Sam Houston State University, she has a degree in economics. Before turning to freelancing full time, James worked as a newspaper reporter, travel agent and medical clinic manager.