Rotary Vs. Reel Lawnmowers – Which is better?

Last Updated on December 11, 2021 by Kimberly Crawford

Homeowners often can’t decide any particular one while it comes to choosing a lawnmower. Are you also confused between rotary vs. reel lawn mowers and can’t decide which one is better? Don’t worry. This guide will explore the differences between these two, and you can consider them while purchasing.

The primary difference between rotary and reel lawn mowers is their cutting mechanism. The blade of the reel mower spins with a horizontal shaft. On the other side, the rotary mower cuts the grass at high speed like a helicopter wing. To learn more in detail about rotary vs. reel lawn mowers, keep reading this article.

Lawn Mowers

Lawns, gardens, grasslands, and other grassy areas or patches in residential and commercial places require some maintenance. Now, those days have gone when you have to depend on the gardener to chop the overgrown grasses manually. Fortunately, with the lawnmowers now, you can simply look after your own beloved lawn. has different types of mowers with great features. They are widely used to chop, trim, or mow the fields, gardens, and lawns grasses. Lawnmowers ensure that the grass grows at an appropriate or even height and grooms well.

Typically they use one or more blades to cut the grass evenly. They are easy to move with their attached wheels and rollers. Lawnmowers come up with steering wheels or push handles to propel, turn, or move the machine.

Rotary Vs. Reel Lawnmowers – Which is better?

push reel lawnmowers

Depending on the grass type, shape, size, and the way you use the lawn, you can choose the best lawn mower. Here we will provide the factors that will help you to select between rotary vs. reel lawn mower.

Rotary & Reel Lawn Mower

This mower is designed with a very high-speed rotating blade. Most rotary mowers consist of grass boxes behind, or some come with integral grass boxes. They are perfect for cutting medium to high grasses.

A reel mower comes with 5 to 12 exposed blades at the front part. The grass box is also located at the front part. With the rotating blades, this mower traps and slices the grass. It works perfectly on the lower grass and requires frequent mowing.

Mechanical Differences

The blade of the rotary mower looks like the helicopter wing that is powered by a motor. The motor or an engine makes this blade to start rotating and cuts the grasses.

The reel lawn mower is designed with scissors that capture the grasses between its blades. When the blades contact each other parallelly, they make a zero-degree angle. In this way, they give a cut to the grass by stretching and flexing the blades.

Lawn Shape and Size

Whether you go for a rotary or reel lawn mower, you should consider the lawn size and shape. For cutting weeds, and long grass, a rotary lawnmower works best. The helicopter-like blade cuts all the grass that contacts with the heli-blade.

For lawn grass, a reel mower will be the better option. They can cut one-fourth of an inch of grass which is considered more promising.

Related: How To Get Rid Of A Lawn Full Of Weeds


A rotary lawn mower works without manual effort as it doesn’t require any manual force. It is supported by a motor and engine that help the helicopter blade spin along with the axes. You can adjust the height also for cutting the grass at several heights.

Reel lawn mowers come in two categories like push reel mowers and gas reel mowers. Push reel mowers depend on manual force to cut the grass. Gas reel mowers use engines and motors that stretch and flex the blades. Like rotary lawnmower, some reel mowers also come with height adjustment.  


Generally, the maintenance of both rotary and reel lawn mowers depends on the blade’s quality and other parts. The blades require to be sharp every year depending on the frequency of use. If you neglect to sharpen the blades, the machine becomes ineffective while cutting the grass.

You can sharp the rotary blades more easily than the reel blades. Both gas-powered mowers require annual oil changes, spark plug replacement, and air filler replacement.

Grass Cutting Quality

Rotary mowers are preferred for higher mowing height and can cut a wide variety of grass heights and species. It can produce a good cut with its sharp blades and power for larger plots of land.

Reel mowers are perfect for short, wet, and undulating grass that are at lower meaning height. Manual reel mowers require human propelling; thus, these are good for small plots of land.


Electric and gas-powered mowers need the energy to run, and that energy comes from fossil fuels. Fossil fuel is not that environmentally friendly. While manual reel mowers rely on only humans propelling thus it is more environment-friendly.


Both reel and rotary mowers are safe equally if you can use them correctly. The rotary blade spins at around 3000 RPM, whereas the reel mowers blade run between 2000-2500 RPM.

The push reel mowers RPM is lower, but if you walk faster, the speed can increase. So, while using a manual reel mower, try not to run; it won’t be safe.  


To make the grass cutting effective and successful rotary lawnmower, use motors and engines. In contrast, reel lawn mowers come in both manual and engine-powered operations. So, the manual reel mower is less expensive than the rotary lawnmower. Remember, the more advanced features are equipped with the machine, the more it will cost.


While purchasing a lawnmower, people often can’t decide between two options for rotary and reel mowers. They are the most popular options in terms of cutting lawn, gardens, and other grassy areas. From this guide, you will get a clear view of rotary vs. reel lawn mowers.

For smaller lawns, a push reel mower will effectively work. Also, you can use it on larger lawns if you don’t mind the workout. However, to save energy, the electric and gas-powered rotary mower is the ideal choice. So, considering terrain shape, grass size, and all other facts, choose the best one between these two.

Related: 7 Worst Lawn Mower Brands To Avoid