Are Manual Mowers Any Good? An Honest Review

The concept of a manual mower is pretty great – a lightweight lawn mower that’s completely person-powered and cuts your lawn without a noisy engine or the hassle of a power cord.


But you might be skeptical about the performance abilities of a manual push mower. Are manual mowers good enough to justify spending your money on? We’ve answered this question honestly in the below guide.

✅Key Takeaways

  • Manual mowers are good for mowing small lawns with no bumps or divots.

  • A manual reel mower cuts grass well, but only in the right circumstances and with proper use.

  • Factors affecting a manual mower’s performance include the grass condition, lawn evenness, and mower quality.

Table of Contents

✂️ Do Manual Mowers Cut Grass Well?

Yes, manual mowers can cut grass well, but only when they’re used properly, and only when the circumstances are right.


A manual lawn mower uses a cylinder blade, which produces a neater, cleaner cut than a rotary blade used on most conventional lawn mower models (like petrol and electric mowers).

📜 Factors Affecting A Manual Lawn Mower’s Cutting Ability

There are a few factors that affect a manual mower’s ability to effectively cut grass. Consider these factors carefully, as your circumstances may mean that using a manual lawn mower on your lawn won’t produce good results:

🌱 Grass Condition

Manual mowers work best on well-maintained lawns with shorter grass. If you often let your grass grow too long or thick, you’ll struggle to cleanly cut through it with a manual mower. Unless you can commit to a regular grass cutting schedule, we recommend using a powered mower instead, which will have the drive needed to cut long grass.

🏞 Lawn Evenness

The evenness or flatness of your lawn also affects a manual mower’s ability to cut grass well. The mower has a lightweight design and is more likely to bounce across your lawn if it encounters a lot of dips and bumps. To achieve an even cut with a manual push mower, your lawn should be flat and even.

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💎 Mower Quality

The quality of the manual mower itself also plays a role in its cutting ability. A more expensive, well-maintained manual lawn mower with sharp blades and a sturdy build will cut your grass more cleanly and produce neater results than a cheaper or poorly maintained model.


So, to summarize – a manual lawn mower can cut grass well if it’s a high-quality mower that’s used to cut grass no taller than around 5-7 centimetres on small, flat lawns. If any of these factors aren’t optimal, the mower may struggle to cut your grass.

🧐 How Does A Manual Mower Compare To A Conventional Mower?

A manual lawn mower has a few features that make it different from a conventional petrol or electric mower:

🏋🏻‍♂️ More Lightweight Design

Hand push mowers have a lightweight design, which has advantages and disadvantages.


A manual mower is easy to transport and doesn’t take up much storage space, but it’s also less stable than a powered mower and more likely to go airborne when traveling over bumps and dips, resulting in an uneven cut.

💪 Push-Powered

Manual push mowers are push-powered, meaning that the person pushing the mower drives the wheels forward and drives the blades to spin. Unlike other conventional mowers, manual reel mowers don’t have an external power source (like electricity or petrol).


A manual lawn mower’s push-powered design means you can take it anywhere and mow at any time, without having to top up the fuel, charge a battery, or plug the mower in.


However, it also means that there’s more resistance when pushing the mower because you need to achieve two outcomes in one: moving the mower forward and spinning the blades. You might appreciate the arm workout, or you might prefer a mower that makes it as easy as possible to get the job done.

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♻️ Environmentally Friendly

Because they don’t use any form of energy (apart from your own!), manual reel mowers are the most environmentally friendly lawn mowing solution.


If you want to reduce your energy usage as much as possible, go for a manual reel mower rather than a conventional electric or petrol mower.


👨‍🔧Related: How Does A Manual Mower Work?

😡Are Manual Mowers Hard To Use?

We’d rate a manual mower’s ease of use 7 out of 10, with 1 being “very hard” and 10 being “very easy”.


Most healthy adults won’t find manual push mowers hard to use. However, if you have arthritis or any other mobility restriction that may affect your ability to push heavy items, you might struggle to use a manual mower.


Manual mowers are harder to use than conventional powered mowers because you have to put extra effort into driving the wheels and the mower blades.


There’s no special technique that you’ll need to adopt when mowing with a manual reel mower. The only difference is that you’ll have to use more pushing effort and mow regularly (more often than you’d need to with a powered mower).


If you have a small lawn and you’re up for the expertise, then you shouldn’t find a manual mower difficult to use.

📏 Can A Manual Mower Cut Long Grass?

No, most reel mowers are not designed to cut very long grass.


Rotary mowers, like most petrol mowers and electric mowers, can cut long grass because their blades are powered by an external source (either petrol or electricity). That means it’s no harder for you to push the mower, regardless of the grass height.


However, if you try to hand-push a manual reel mower over longer grass, you’ll be met with a lot of resistance because your pushing power alone drives the blades. You’ll find it extremely physically challenging to cut tall grass with a manual mower, which is why most push reel mowers are designed to cut grass no taller than 5-7 centimetres.

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🔁 Do Manual Mowers Leave Lawn Stripes?

How good are manual mowers at leaving lawn stripes? We’d say average – but certainly not the best.


Not all manual reel mowers have a rear roller. So, for a start, your mower only has the potential to leave stripes in your lawn if it has a roller.


But the issue with manual mowers in general is that they’re not heavy enough to create visible stripes. The mowers are deliberately designed to be as lightweight as possible for easy use, which means they don’t have the weighty rollers of, say, a petrol mower.


That means there’s not enough force exerted to press and flatten the grass as you mow, so even if your manual reel mower does have a rear roller, it’s unlikely to leave noticeable lawn stripes.

📦 How Well Does A Manual Mower Collect Grass Clippings?

Some manual mowers come with a grass collector, but this is typically more of an open-top bucket rather than the closed grass box/bag used on conventional powered mowers.


The open-top design of a manual mower’s grass bag means that it can’t effectively collect grass clippings. Rather than being sucked into the grass box from the underside of the mower, the grass cuttings are thrown out of the mower and land (sort of haphazardly) in the grass collector.


As you can imagine, this isn’t the most efficient process, and some of the grass ends up on your lawn. You might need to go around your lawn with a rake after mowing with a manual hand mower.

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📅 How Long Does A Manual Mower Last?

A manual hand-push mower usually lasts 8-15 years. The mower’s lifespan depends on a number of factors:

  • The material quality – The stronger and more durable the mower materials, the longer it should last.

  • Your maintenance & care – A manual reel mower that’s properly maintained and cared for should last longer than a reel mower that’s poorly maintained.

  • Cutting terrain/difficulty – If you only have a small lawn and cut grass before it gets too long, your manual reel mower should last longer than if you gave a big lawn and often cut long, thick grass.

  • Use frequency – The more often you use your mower, the faster the parts will wear, and the shorter its lifespan will be.

To get the most out of your initial investment, choose a manual reel mower that’s sturdily built and sold by a reputable manufacturer. Ideally, the mower should have a 1-2-year warranty, which means your purchase is covered if you receive a defective item.


Check customer reviews to get an idea of a mower’s long-term performance (many customers update their reviews either to say that they’re still pleased with the mower X years on or to complain about a worn or broken part).

💰 So, Are Manual Lawn Mowers Worth It?

Ultimately, manual lawn mowers are worth it if you have a small, flat lawn, you don’t mind putting a bit of extra pushing effort into mowing, and you don’t want the faff of a petrol engine or a cable.


The quality of performance you can expect from a manual lawn mower depends on the quality of the mower itself. You can get a really cheap manual mower (we’re talking £20-£30) from home and garden stores, but we advise investing more money into a more sturdily built mower that has enough weight to keep it stable as you mow, so you get an even cut.


As with so many consumer products, the more money you spend, the better quality the product. The best manual lawn mowers today cost around £50-£100 – they’re still very affordable at about the price of a cheap electric mower, but they’re not worryingly cheap, either.