Rotary vs Reel Mower: Which One Should You Choose for Your Lawn?


When it comes to maintaining a beautiful and healthy lawn, choosing the right type of lawnmower can make a world of difference. Rotary mowers and reel mowers are two common options that come with their unique features and benefits. In this article, we will delve into the world of rotary and reel mowers, exploring the key differences and helping you decide which one is the best fit for your lawn care needs.

Rotary Mowers: The Workhorse of Lawncare

Rotary mowers are a popular choice for many homeowners due to their ease of use and versatility. Let’s take a closer look at what makes them stand out:

1. Versatility

Rotary mowers are highly versatile and can handle a wide range of grass types and conditions. They are perfect for tackling overgrown lawns and uneven terrains.

2. Blade Design

These mowers have a rotary blade that spins horizontally, cutting grass in a scissor-like motion. The blade’s design allows it to handle tougher grass varieties and weeds effectively.

3. Convenience

Rotary mowers are incredibly user-friendly. They are typically self-propelled, making them easy to maneuver and requiring less effort on your part.

4. Mulching Capabilities

Many rotary mowers come with mulching options, allowing you to recycle grass clippings as a natural fertilizer for your lawn.

Reel Mowers: Precision and Elegance

Reel mowers are often considered the more traditional and elegant choice for lawn maintenance. Let’s explore their unique characteristics:

1. Precision Cutting

Reel mowers use a set of curved blades that spin vertically and create a scissor-like cutting action. This results in a clean and precise cut, making them ideal for manicured lawns.

2. Eco-Friendly

Reel mowers are eco-friendly as they do not emit harmful fumes or noise. They are perfect for those looking to minimize their environmental footprint.

3. Healthier Grass

The clean-cut provided by reel mowers promotes healthier grass growth, reducing the risk of disease and infestation.

4. Quiet Operation

These mowers are incredibly quiet, allowing you to mow your lawn without disturbing the peace of your neighborhood.

Rotary vs Reel: Making the Choice

Now that we’ve explored the key features of both rotary and reel mowers, how do you decide which one is right for you? Here are some factors to consider:

Lawn Type

  • Rotary Mower: Best for large and irregular lawns with tough grass varieties.
  • Reel Mower: Ideal for small to medium-sized lawns with a desire for precision cutting.


  • Rotary Mower: Suited for uneven terrains and slopes.
  • Reel Mower: Works best on flat, even surfaces.

Environmental Concerns

  • Rotary Mower: Can be less eco-friendly due to emissions and noise.
  • Reel Mower: Environmentally friendly and quiet.


  • Rotary Mower: Requires more maintenance, such as blade sharpening.
  • Reel Mower: Lower maintenance needs with occasional blade adjustment.


In the battle of rotary vs reel mowers, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The choice ultimately depends on your specific lawn and personal preferences. Rotary mowers are versatile and can tackle a variety of conditions, while reel mowers offer precision and eco-friendliness. Consider your lawn type, terrain, and environmental concerns when making your decision.

For those who seek the best of both worlds, some homeowners use a combination of both types of mowers for different areas of their lawn.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a reel mower more suitable for golf course-quality lawns?

Reel mowers are often used for golf course lawns due to their precision cutting, but they can also work well for residential lawns with similar needs.

Do rotary mowers require more maintenance than reel mowers?

Yes, rotary mowers typically need more maintenance, including blade sharpening and occasional oil changes.

Can I use a rotary mower on a small, flat lawn?

Yes, you can use a rotary mower on a small, flat lawn, but a reel mower might provide a cleaner cut and a quieter operation.

Are reel mowers suitable for cutting tall and overgrown grass?

Reel mowers are best for maintaining regularly trimmed lawns and may struggle with tall and overgrown grass.

Can I mulch with a reel mower like I can with a rotary mower?

Reel mowers are not designed for mulching, so they don’t offer the same mulching capabilities as rotary mowers.

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