How to Cut Tall Grass With a Reel Mower

A reel mower is different from other lawn mowers because of the vertical way its blades spin and the scissoring action it employs to chop grass. Typically, golf courses use a reel mower to cut grass, although it can also be used on lawns to give them a healthier and more attractive look.

Hence, if you are looking for ways to remove overgrown grass from your yard, a reel mower is a good option to consider.

One of the most common questions asked by people is whether a reel mower can cut tall grass. Well, let us find out.

Cutting Tall Grass With a Reel Mower: A Step-by-Step Guide

Reel mowers can be used to trim tall grass. Grass is considered tall if it is higher than four inches. This guide includes steps for cutting tall grass using a reel mower.

#1. Ensure That the Blades Are Sharp

Before starting your reel mower, make sure its blades are sharp. Having well-maintained and sharp blades will help you mow your lawn with ease and reduce the time required to cut grass. To keep your reel mower in top working condition, perform maintenance on a regular basis and spray some lubricant on all the moving parts.

#2. Increase the Height of the Blades

How high should the mower blade be? Before mowing your garden, make adjustments so that the mower blades are set to their maximum height. Most mowers can be raised up to three inches, while some can be adjusted even further by an inch or two.

#3. Check the Lawn for Debris

During autumn or windy weather conditions, you might find leaves, twigs, and other debris all over your lawn. If the debris isn’t removed, it can get stuck in the reel mower and affect its functioning. Unfortunately, leaves and twigs are frequently concealed by tall grass, making them difficult to find.

Before you start mowing your lawn, make sure to look for debris strewn about and remove it immediately.

#4. Increase the Overlap

The question ‘How do I know if my lawn is too tall?’ is generally asked by lawn owners and can be pretty confusing. Worry no more. Let us shed some light on the subject.

A lawn can be considered very tall if your grass is more than four inches in height. In this case, you will need to increase the size of your overlap. Make your first pass by mowing the length of your lawn and overlap your first pass by at least four or six inches.

If the grass clippings in previous overlaps were knocked down instead of trimmed, you will have to increase the overlap even more. If the grass is too long, the reel mower cutting height should also be adjusted accordingly.

#5. Wait Until the Grass Is Dry

This is the most critical step to keep in mind. Often, people mow their lawn when it is wet and then ask, ‘Why won’t my reel mower won’t cut tall grass?’

Why Should You Use a Reel Mower?

There are several advantages to using a reel mower for your lawn. Let us take a look at some of them.

Easy to Use

People who are unfamiliar with mowing grass might assume that reel mowers are difficult to use. However, with a reel mower, you don’t need to worry about things such as rope pulling, idle adjustment, oiling, filling gas, or remembering any keys. The only thing you need to do is push the reel mower through your lawn and chop off all the unwanted extra grass.

Reel mowers are also lightweight. They are usually between 19 and 34 pounds, making them convenient to carry and store.

Excellent Cutting Ability

With a reel mower, you don’t need to worry about your lawn being ripped or torn apart. The blades of a reel mower evenly trim all the grass and disperse the grass clippings as a fine spray over your property. These clippings then act as a natural fertilizer for your garden.

Low Maintenance

One of the best characteristics of a reel mower is it doesn’t require much maintenance. You do not need to worry about oil and other gas mower parts. The only thing to remember is to keep the blades maintained either by spraying them with lubricants, brushing them occasionally, or getting them sharpened from time to time.

Environment Friendly

A reel mower is eco-friendly since it produces less noise and does not need fuel. Cutting grass the natural way is a great way to reduce air and noise pollution while avoiding strain on the planet’s natural resources.

A reel mower is also more affordable compared to other mowers. It is relatively safe and helps you burn calories when you’re using it. For all you fitness freaks out there, mowing your lawn is great exercise!

Can you cut wet grass with a reel mower?

Can You Cut Wet Grass With A Reel Mower?

When the lawn is wet, the grass will be slippery, making it difficult for you to cut it. A lawn that’s cut while wet will be uneven, giving it a disorganized look.

There is also the chance that the wheels could lose their traction and end up injuring you in the process. Thus, it is best to wait for the grass to dry.

How to Maintain a Reel Mower

Maintaining a reel mower is not a difficult thing to do. Here are some tips to follow to keep your mower in good condition.

Wash Your Mower Regularly

Clean dirt and debris from your reel mower using a strong jet of water from a garden hose. Allow your mower to dry before using.

Sharpening the Blades

Sharpen the mower blades with cutting oil. Apply the oil to a coarse sharpening stone. Sharpen every blade with even and smooth strokes according to the direction of the angle. This can be dangerous, so wear gloves.

How To Maintain A Reel Mower

Checking the Blades

To check if your blades are sharp enough, place a sheet of paper on a cutting bar and rotate the reel cage. If the blades can slice through the paper smoothly, your blades are in good condition. If the blades don’t cut through the paper evenly, make adjustments to the cutting bar.

You can do so by rotating the nuts and screws clockwise or counterclockwise in equal measures to move them closer or further away from the cutting bar. Check for even cutting after each adjustment.

Lubricate the Wheel Drive Gear Assembly

You can lubricate the assembly of the wheel drive gear by either removing all the screws or undoing a hub nut with a wrench. This removes all the wheel covers and exposes the gear assembly. You can then lubricate the parts using wheel-bearing grease. Once done, reinstall the wheel or the wheel cover.

Can I Use a Reel Mower on Tall Fescue?

Reel mowers are generally not recommended for grass taller than three inches. Since grass varieties such as St Augustine, Bahia, or tall fescue require mowing above 3 inches, reel mowers are not recommended for cutting them in most cases.

How Often Should You Cut Grass With a Reel Mower?

Mowing a lawn once a week is usually enough. However, some lawns might need to be cut more often depending on the type of grass and much water they get.  On the other hand, some lawns do not grow as quickly and may only need to be trimmed once every ten days or so.

What Is the Best Reel Mower for Tall Grass?

Although there are several high-quality reel mowers available, the best one depends on your specific needs.

Some of the best reel mower models include Scotts Outdoor 20-inch Swath, Fiskars 18-inch Swath, American Lawn 14-inch Swath, and Earthwise Push 16-inch Swath.


Reel lawn mowers can trim tall grass and are affordable, eco-friendly, low maintenance, and easy to use. While you’ll need to perform routine maintenance on its blades, you can do away with fuel, oil changes, and additional maintenance that a gas-powered mower requires.

With benefits that outweigh other mowers, you’ll be glad to have a reel mower for your lawn.