Weekly mowing a yard with over a quarter of an acre using a reel mower may leave you with exhaustion.
But if your lawn is flat and less than a quarter acre (10,890 square feet), a reel or manual mower would be sufficient. Of course, it’ll take some laborious effort to cut the grass.
The best part is that you can eliminate emissions as reel mower doesn’t require gas. And the quality of the cut is not compromised, thanks to its sharpened steel blades.
With manual mowers for small garden, the most important thing to look for is the maximum cutting height. Your grass need to be cut high enough to keep it healthy. Unfortunately, only a handful can get above 2 1/2 inches.
It serves no purpose if the mower fails to reach a maximum cut height of 2½ inches or higher, avoiding the risk of damaging your lawn.
I’ve found 3 reel mowers that meet this criteria. But you also need to consider other factors before you buy such as the weight, the ease of adjustment level, and the amount of effort to push the mower.
The best mowing machine for small or tiny yards is Scotts 2000-20 20-Inch Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower.
Here are the reasons why Scotts 2000-20 is highly recommended for a small garden.
- A wide, 20-inch cutting swath (the widest size available) that gives you the widest cutting path. In other words, it clips a wider path than most reel mowers with every pass.
- The cutting height range is between 1 and 3 inches, which is a more versatile for different grass types than other reel mowers in the market. With 3 inches, you can opt for taller turf for the sake of the health of the grass or a less maintained appearance.
- It’s easy to adjust the cutting height of the Scotts 2000-20. Just move the two levers that are found on each wheel.
- Unlike any manual mower, it doesn’t jam.
- It’s light as it weighs at 34 pounds. You can easily turn around after each mowing row. Yet it’s heavy enough not to bounce around when mowing on slightly uneven terrain.
- You’ll be impressed with the quality of the cut. You don’t see any blades sticking up after mowing, giving your lawn the cleanest cut. For other reel mowers, you have to back up and go over the area again to get better looking trimmed lawn.
- You don’t need tools to assemble the Scotts. The bolts that connect the handle feature large plastic wing nuts. You can just use your hand to tighten them.
- Disassembling is also easy. You can take this mower apart if you decide to place it into a compact space like a small store room or car trunk.
Although there are many plus points with Scotts 2000-20, you should be aware of some flaws.
- The common complaints are the aluminum handle breaking and the removal of a plastic gear in the mechanism. The good news is that it takes 10 minutes to get it fixed.
- You may like Scotts even more if the manufacturer decides to change the material in both the wheel and the gear to metal. However, this will add the cost to the price tag. And it also increase the weight of the mower.
- You may find that the screws that secure the tend to be loose when you receive the Scotts for the first time. The screws may come out within a month. But the moment you replace them, this problem should not appear anymore.
If you want the healthiest grass and cleanest cut, you can’t go wrong with the Scotts.
The next pick is Fiskars 18-Inch StaySharp Max Reel Mower. It snips as good as the Scotts. If you can’t get the Scotts for some reasons, this is your next choice.
Compared to the Scotts 2000-20, it’s bulkier. Its heavier weight allows smooth rolling push once you start mowing. The Consumer Reports rated it as being the easiest to push.
Unfortunately, if you cut at lower heights, the mower occasionally gets stuck on the grass. You need several pushes to get the job done.
Another problem with its weight is that it takes more effort to turn around at the end of a mowing row.
The moment you get Fiskar StaySharp Max up to speed, it glides smoothly. But due to its weight, once you achieve that speed on a small lawn, you’ve already reached the end of your lawn and have to turn around. So, for very small yards, this Fiskar model is not suitable.
The mechanism in Fiskars reel mower is more complicated than other models. It relies on a chain drive to connect the turning of the wheels to the blades.
One amazing thing I notice with Fiskars StaySharp Max is that it pushes the clipping forward instead of backward, keeping the snipped grass from landing on your shoes clean during mowing. This is a unique feature that is not found in other reel mowers.
You can adjust the cutting height of the Fiskars StaySharp Max with a single level. It can cut up to 4 inches of height. It’s the largest range of any manual mower available.
One thing you need to know about its 1-inch setting is that it cut much lower, almost scraping the turf. So make sure you readjust it to a higher setting.
When it comes to cutting, it’s not as consistent as the Scotts.
Furthermore, it costs more than the Scotts.
The last choice is Great States 415-16 16-Inch Standard Full Feature Push Reel Mower.
For the mowing height adjustment, you need to unbolt it instead of adjusting the levers that are common in other reel mowers. It can be a pain to unbolt it each time you need to change the cutting height.
Its cutting swath is the narrowest among the three. This means, you have mow your whole lawn several passes.
For small, flats lawns, reel mowers are the best. However, your choice is limited because of the maximum cutting height. If you prefer the cutting consistency, lighter weight for easy maneuvering, and lower price tag, go for Scotts 2000-20.
If you feel a reel mower is not the best choice for your tiny lawn, you can opt for an electric or gas grass cutting machine.
Best Electric Mower For Small Yards
Cordless or corded electric mower doesn’t need gas to operate. Thus, its maintenance cost is low.
Since it uses electric power, you can enjoy zero emission and low noise pollution.
With corded mower, you can mow as long as you want but your range of coverage depends on the length of the cable. Here are some of the top corded electric lawn mowers for tiny lawns.
Here is the bad news. Cords often get caught when mowing near obstacles, fences, and shrubs.
It seems that a cordless mower like GreenWorks 25322 would be ideal for ease of maneuvering. However, the battery capacity determines the mowing time.
It doesn’t justify the cost to buy a trimmer and an edger separately for tiny lawns.
If you want to save money on a trimmer and an edger, consider Black & Decker MTC220 3-in-1 Trimmer/Edger and Mower.
You can turn its trimmer into an edger by turning it vertically.
Although the trimmer doesn’t cut precisely as an edger, it’s pretty close.
Best Gas Mower For Tiny Lawns
Gas lawn mowers are more powerful than electric or reel mowers, making them perfect for cutting tall grass and tough weeds.
The walk-behind gasoline powered push mowers such as Husqvarna 7021P work well for small, flat lawns.
An Amazon reviewer said, “I only have a small yard and can cut it in less than an hour”.
Best Riding Lawn Mower For Small Gardens
If you find it tiring with a walk-behind mower, I’m sure you love the convenience of a riding mower. It can clear grass twice as wide as push mowers.
Most ride on mowers cost more than $2000 as they are meant for over an acre of yard.
So, you need to find one that is inexpensive and can work on a small yard.
A compact riding lawn mower such as Troy-Bilt 420cc OHV 30-Inch would be suitable in this case.