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Being a professional gardener and nurseryman, I’ve used many different types of lawns over the years, from the newest cordless rotary mowers I reviewed here to powerful petrol lawn mowers, which are great mowers for large lawns.
Don’t get me wrong; I love my other modern mowers, especially cordless mowers, as there is no engine to service or power leads to worry about and have hanging over my shoulder. I don’t have to worry about recharging batteries or refuelling petrol as I do with my other mowers. Manual push mowers are about as easy and convenient as it gets when it comes to mowers, plus they are usually very compact and easy to store.
However, one type of mower that always needs more attention is the classic push reel mower, also known as reel mowers. Something that I like about the best push mowers, which most rotary mowers can even come close to, is the finish you can get with a decent reel mower with a roller on the back, which creates that British stripe on your lawn and everyone loves a striped lawn.
I’ll be honest: I tried a few reel mowers on my lawn, and some are simply not fit to sell. Most are cheaply made for budget shoppers and usually too light to get a decent cut or stripe or just poorly made. What you need is a little weight to help the wheels get traction on the lawn. This is what powers the cylinder blades as well as creates the stripes with the rear roller as it compresses against the lawn after cutting.
Just a little warning. You need a relatively level lawn to create the stripes and a somewhat level lawn to use a reel mower. If the lawn is very uneven, the blades will catch on the ground, or both wheels will struggle to consistently keep traction with the lawn to power the blades. If you have an uneven lawn with many humps and bumps, maybe consider a rotary mower with a roller like my Bosch mower pictured below instead.
If you have a somewhat level lawn like me and are looking for a push cylinder mower, then there are a handful of mowers I’ve tested that have proven to be fantastic mowers. You can buy a decent push reel mower for around £65 with the Cobra HM381 Manual Garden Lawnmower being a good example or pay as much as £280. I wouldn’t go any cheaper, but I’ve found that around £80-£100 is the sweet spot.
After testing a handful of models, one of the best push mowers is the Murray HM400 Cylinder Mower pictured above which I picked up for under £100. It’s an amazing piece of kit for the price! I’ve paid upwards of £160 for the Webb WEH18 and this Murray is easily as good when it comes to cutting performance and build quality.
It’s not perfect, but it’s close enough, it’s easily as good as any other mower I’ve tested, and I’ve had this for over a year now. In terms of build quality, it’s a solid piece of garden machinery that is clearly made to last. It’s made from alloy steel from the handles right down to the actual mower deck and five super sharp cylinder blades. The blades are powered by both large wheels (not just one wheel like some cheaper models).
In terms of cutting height, it has four cutting heights, and they’re super easy to adjust by using a simple level system on each side neat the roller as shown above. Personally, I like the second from the lowest cutting height.
I have tried the lowest setting, and it does scalped my lawn. However, if you have a fairly level lawn, it would create a bowling green low-cut finish.
From memory, assembly was fairly straight forward. I just had to attach the handlebars using 4 bolts and turn handles, and it was ready to put to work. In terms of mowing, the longer the grass, the more effort it takes, so I recommend mowing little and often, maybe once every 1-2 weeks during the growing season. My daughter, who is only 6, was able to push it along, so it’s not too difficult. It also has nice foam handles, which are very comfortable to hold. In terms of weight, it is not really heavy, but it is not what I call light either. At around 10kg, it’s heavy enough to give good traction on the wheels but still light enough to easily push around without too much effort.
A couple of niggles, but to be honest, this goes for cylinder mowers in general. The collection bag is smaller, perhaps 20 litres. It needs emptying often, and it’s a faff to remove the collection box, although it does just clip off, and it does the job.
Overall, it gives a really nice finish and is exceptionally well made. I actually couldn’t believe how well made it was for how much I paid for it. I think this is the model I would buy again if I needed another or a friend was asking for a recommendation.
If you have a larger lawn, another push mower, I have been somewhat impressed with is this Webb WEH18 Manual Cylinder Lawnmower. However, it wasn’t cheap, but it is a brilliant piece of kit. I’ve actually given it to my dad to have a play around with as he’s retiring, and as he put it, ‘he will just mow the lawn more when he’s retired.’ Plus, I’ve been using my Murray HM400 for the past 12 months. Now, this model is better for larger lawns as it’s 46cm wide, my Murray is 40cm for comparison, and it has a slightly larger collection bag of 22 Litres; however, in the real world, it’s not noticeable. It has nine cutting heights, which seems a little overkill, but it gives you more options if you have longer grass. It has a roller and creates stripes; overall, it’s another good example of a push reel mower. The only real downside is it’s heavy. I think it weighs around 18-19kg, so it’s not lightweight by any means. However, the extra weight does help create better stripes, but it also takes more effort to get it moving. Once it’s moving, it is fairly easygoing.
Before I get into my reviews below and buyers guide, I just want to give a few pointers. From experience, I can tell you no reel mowers will collect and compact the grass like a rotary mower. The grass is basiclly cut and thrown backwards into the collection box. You do need to empty the collection box more often.
Because reel mowers are really designed to be used more often than you might a rotary mower, for example, you are generally removing less grass clipping each time you mow the lawn, so it’s not a problem. You could even consider not using a collect box and dispensing the grass clipping back into the lawn, but I would only do this if you mow your lawn at least once a week.
Lastly, these reel mowers don’t mow well on wet or damp grass, so do yourself a favour and wait until the grass is dry before mowing, or it will just clog up the blades.
Push Lawn Mowers Reviews
1. Murray HM400 Hand Push Cylinder Mower
I’ve already talked about this mower in detail so I will try and keep brief but, to sum up, I’ve been really impressed with this mower, and I think it’s one of the best for under £100, I just think overall it’s a good mower.
The build quality, ease of use, the cutting performance all get 5 stars from me. It has a few niggles like the way you have to unclick the grass collector, but this is a pretty standard design for grass collectors on alot of reel mowers. Anyway more about this mower.
It comes with sharp aluminium blades for use right out of the box and with a cutting width of 40cm, it will tackle small to medium lawns with ease.
This cylinder mower has a cutting height adjustment feature that lets you adjust the cutting height ranging from 13-38mm with four settings as shown above.
It does come with a collection box and you have the option to use the push mower with or without it. You can easily remove the 20-litre collection box to empty the clipping or remove it completely to rear-discharge the clippings which puts nutrients back into the lawn. This is well worth doing if you mow a couple of times a week after your first mow of the season as it will spread the tiny clipping into the lawn.
The box capacity of only 20 litres tells the story of this mower being ideal for small lawns. The handle is very stable, and the foam handle is very ergonomic which makes it a joy to use. Also, this mower operates quietly and is one of the most affordable models you can buy for light-duty applications especially when compared to battery-powered cordless mowers and even some other reel mowers.
This Murray HM400 Hand Push Cylinder Mower is a steal at the price I managed to pick one up for which was well under £100. It doesn’t ring bells and whistles but offers the basic features you need to give your lawn a decent cut.
The overall build quality is very good and and I’ve been more than happy with the cutting performance. For most people, if I had to recommend just one mower, this would have to be it!
2. Webb WEH18 Contact Free Manual Cylinder Lawnmower with Rear Roller
This Webb WEH18 Manual Cylinder Lawnmower with its Rear Roller is a good model to choose if you have a medium or larger sized garden. I originally purchased this a few years back before I got the Murray mower, and since then my dad has been using it. It’s been a right little workhorse, and to be fair, it’s probably mowing a larger lawn than it’s really designed to. He usually gets this cylinder mower out when he has a BBQ planned with friends and family and cheats with his petrol mower the rest of season. However, its a great mower but its a little on the heavy side at about 17-18kg.
Most push mowers are intended for small lawns but with a cutting width of 46cm, this Webb model cuts a wide swatch through your grass every time you push it across.
And speaking of the blades, there are five of them, I’ve not mentioned this but on cheap reel mowers you usually only have 4 blades. These are contactless blades so they don’t touch the fixed blade. This keeps them sharper for longer as they don’t come into contact with anything that might dull them. Not having to sharpen the blades as often is a distinct advantage to anyone who gets out there weekly to cut the grass.
And you can cut your grass to almost any length you desire. Well, as long as it’s between 25mm long (that’s quite a short cut) to 75mm (that’s more a long trim). You have nine lengths in between these lengths to choose from. So depending on your preference, the weather and the state of your grass, you can pick and choose the best length for the lawn at any time. As with all reel mowers, it’s not any good on damp grass, and blades clog, but also because of the weight, almost 20kg, it tends to dig into the lawn if it’s damp, especially when turning it. So with this in mind, only use it in dry weather!
And if you have your heart set on the stripes that you see on lawn bowling greens or on Wimbledon tennis courts, this will create decent stripes which is one of the advantages of the extra weight.
And when you’ve finished cutting, there’s not much to do if you’ve been using the 22L collection bag. Just empty the bag into your compost bin. Alternatively, use the manual mower without the bag and let the grass clippings fall back onto the lawn to add nutrients back onto your lawn.
As I said, the Webb WEH18 Cylinder Lawnmower is a good choice if you have a medium-size rather than small lawn. It has a wide cutting width (46cm) for a cylinder mower which means that you won’t have to do as many passes of your lawn as with a smaller/narrower push mower. The nine choices of grass height let you choose what’s best for your lawn at any given time although I don’t really know who needs 9 cutting heights. Plus the rear roller makes those enviable stripes on your lawn. Just make sure that it’s not too heavy for you to push. Overall, a great quality mower but a little on the expensive side.
3. Cobra HM381 Manual Garden Lawnmower
I had this Cobra HM381 Manual Garden Lawnmower quite a few years back so I thought it was worth mentioning here as it was a good little mower. It’s not too heavy at 9kg so similar to my new Murray mower but the build quality is perhaps not quite as good. And with a 38cm cutting width, it’s a little narrower too so it’s suitable for small to medium size lawns.
As with many of the other push mowers in my review, you have a choice of cutting grass heights in the range from 13mm to 38mm. You adjust the height of the blades to one of four steps in this range by easily moving the pins on either side of the blades to the height that you want. And speaking of adjusting, make sure to move the handle of the mower to a comfortable height for you to use.
It does come with collection bag that holds 26L of grass clippings so this is actually one of the latest collection bags on any of these reel mowers. This attaches to the back of the mower, between it and you. You don’t have to use the bag; you can let the grass clippings fall back onto the lawn as additional nutrients.
And to add to how neat and tidy your lawn looks after you use this Cobra push mower, you have stripes in the lawn (assuming its level). Think of the stripes in a Wimbledon tennis court or a lawn bowling green. That’s what the roller to the rear of this push mower does for your lawn.
And when it comes to putting the mower away, just fold down the handle in half to reduce storage space or to transport it more easily in your car.
And remember that there’s a two-year warranty for extra peace of mind
I liked my Cobra HM381 Manual mower for its compactness relatively lightweight design and good cutting performance. It’s of a good size (cutting width and cutting heights) for small lawns and it folds up small for storage and transporting. And, of course, there’s the always admired stripes in your lawn. Overall it was a great little mower, I replaced it when I moved house and just fancied a change.
4. Einhell Universal Hand Mower GE HM 38 S
This Einhell Universal Hand Mower GE HM 38 S is a relatively lightweight push lawn mower coming in at 7.75kg so one of the lighest in my review. It’s suitable for lawns up to 250m2, that’s small or small to mid-size areas of lawn. As well as being light in weight, the ergonomically designed handlebars make it easy to push as they’re adjustable to your own height.
As with most push mowers, this Einhell model has five steel blades arranged in a cylinder. The blades are contactless which keeps them sharper longer. You don’t have to continually be worrying about sharpening them. Plus this also reduces friction, making the mower easier to push.
This push mower has a cutting width of 38cm so comparable to the Cobra HM381 Manual Garden Lawnmower I had a few years back. While this isn’t very wide, it’s a suitable width for small lawns. You don’t want a lawn that has only a few wide stripes across it which is what you may get if you use a larger and wider mower.
You have the standard range of cutting heights for your grass, four heights from 13mm to 38mm which is similar to my Murray mower. The lower end of this range gives a close crew cut to your lawn but the upper end is not very long – more of a medium trim.
I think this is a good mower to use when keeping your lawn in shape when it’s already at a shorter length. This mower doesn’t do too well when the grass is long.
Just be aware that this push mower doesn’t come with a collection bag either so it’s really for mowing often and giving it a light trim.
I recommend the Einhell GE HM 38 S Universal Hand Mower for those who have lawns on the smaller side if you are looking for a lighter weight push mower. If you like your grass to be on the shorter side as well, you won’t mind the standard 13mm to 38mm grass height range. Overall it seems like a nice little reliable mower.
5. Gardena Comfort 400 C Cylinder Mower
This Gardena Comfort 400 C Cylinder Mower has a wide cutting width of 40cm that can clear lawns up to 250m2. The push mower sports impressive stainless steel blades that clear grass off your lawn with clean precision. The blades are made of steel and therefore they are less likely to go blunt easily.
Additionally, the push mower features cutting height adjustments, ranging from 12-42mm which you can adjust in 4 stages. At 9.4kg it is also a fairly lightweight mower and it also features large durable wheels that provide adequate tread and minimise damage to the lawn.
To make operation and storage easier, this push mower has a unique well-designed foldable, ergonomic handle. The handle has been padded with a rubber layer to provide adequate grip and keep the user’s hands from forming blisters. You do have to purchase a collection box if you want to collect all the cut grass so keep this in mind when comparing prices.
This Gardena Comfort Cylinder Mower 400 C is amongst the best on the market due to the quality of the features offered but that’s what Gardena is all about, quality garden products. I personally own their auto hose reel as well as their hose spray guns and I’ve always been impressed with their products.
The fact that it runs silently makes it easy to whip it out at any time to cut grass without disturbing the neighbours. This premium product costs a little more than other models but you get absolute value because it’s durable. If you have a standard UK garden (ideally around 250m²) this lightweight, easy-to-push and brilliantly designed mower would be worth considering.
6. Fiskars Momentom Reel Mower
Fiskars is known for turning to the latest technology and innovative designs when designing the latest garden tools. With their new momentum reel mower, they took the traditional cylinder mower and have given it a modern advantage to make cutting grass even easier.
However, being one of the most expensive push mowers available what makes this different than the more traditional models?
Firstly it uses new StaySharp technology that allows it to cut grass without the blades touching, which is how more traditional cylinder mowers work. This means it reduces the push force needed by up to 30% in long grass and reduces the need to sharpen the blades annually.
The cutting height can be changed from 2.5cm to 10cm so you can keep your lawn cut to your desired height. It also has twice the cutting power of traditional cylinder mowers meaning it will cut through small twigs, weeds and even the tallest of grass that a traditional mower would jam upon at the first attempt.
To sum the superior mower up, it is very easy to push, taking much less effort than other mowers, especially in long grass. It reduces the risk of jamming by cutting the longest of lawns as well as twigs and weeds that usually jam cheaper models. It has the greatest range of any cylinder mower meaning it will cut right along the edges. It is simply the best push lawnmower you can ever buy. It is expensive, but if you are after a very high-quality mower, then you cannot go wrong with this Fiskars push mower. It is simply in a different league when comparing it to other mowers but then so is the price!
Push Mower Buyers Guide
When to use a push mower
These lawnmowers are ideal for small to medium-sized gardens. They have a cylinder cutter, usually with five blades but sometimes with more. They produce an immaculate cut and you will have no electric cables or fuel to worry about. Some models also have a roller on the back, creating famous green stripes on your lawn.
The condition of the lawn is important when using a push mower
Ideally, to use a push mower you need to have a relatively flat lawn and be able to cut your grass around once a week. If the lawn is uneven or the grass is very long it can become problematic.
However, if you have a flat lawn, a push mower should be the perfect lawnmower and give you fantastic results.
If you have an uneven lawn, then you may have to fill in the uneven parts with a soil spreader and a lawn levelling rake and re-seed. If this is not for you, then you may be better sticking to a rotary mower.
What to take into account when choosing the best manual push lawn mower
- Cutting width – The larger the cylinder cutting width, the larger area it will cut at once. Smaller cutting widths are suitable for smaller gardens. Wider cutting widths can be better for larger gardens but can weigh more, making them harder to move back into the shed, although not always harder to push and use.
- Is it made from quality materials? – Is it made from durable, strong materials? Some cheaper models made primarily of plastic can fade and become brittle over time, whilst others can be made using quality strong plastic and aluminium, making them lightweight and robust.
- Does it have a grass box? – Some models do not have a grass box to collect the grass cuttings, and costs extra to get one. If you cut your lawn a couple of times a week then you may not require a grass box as you may choose to leave the grass on the lawn because this helps put nutrients back into the lawn. This is usually only recommended when you cut your lawn very frequently. If you do not have a grass box, you may have to rake up the grass cuttings after mowing.
This brings us to the end of my push mower review, and I hope you have found a model that works for your lawn. If I had to recommend just one mower then it would have to be the Murray HM400 Hand Push Cylinder Mower.
Last update on 2023-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API