How Do Cylinder Lawn Mowers Work?

A cylinder mower is a type of mower that’s favored by gardening enthusiasts because of its better quality of cut and ability to maintain a healthier lawn.


In this guide, I’ve shared everything you should know about cylinder mowers, including how they work, how to maintain their performance, and whether or not they’re worth it for you.

✅ Key Takeaways:

  • A cylinder mower is a type of mower that uses multiple vertically spinning cylinder blades to cut grass with a scissoring action.

  • The different types of cylinder mowers include electric cylinder mowers, petrol cylinder mowers, and manual cylinder mowers.

  • Cylinder mowers are considered an upgrade from reel mowers, which use a single horizontally-spinning blade to cut grass.

Table of Contents

❓ How Does A Cylinder Lawn Mower Work? Quick Overview

A cylinder mower works by chopping grass with 5 or 6 vertically spinning blades on the underside of the mower. Most cylinder mowers have a grass box that attaches to the machine and collect the grass clippings as you mow, so you don’t need to rake them up after.

🤔 What Is A Cylinder Lawn Mower?

A cylinder mower, otherwise known as a reel mower, is a type of mower that cuts grass with a scissor-like cut as you push the mower along your lawn.


Cylinder mowers are typically used to achieve an ornamental appearance or when a lower height of cut is required. You might prefer the look of a closely-cut lawn, in which case, you should consider buying a reel mower for your garden.


Cylinder lawn mowers are also used on sports turf to cut grass to a height that allows for better ball movement, particularly in small-ball sports.

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Quick Specs:

  • Brand: Bosch

  • Price: £

  • Power source: Manual

  • Cutting width: 38cm

  • Cutting height: 15 – 43mm

  • Weight: 6.9 kilograms

  • Grass box capacity: 25 litres

  • Dimensions (DxWxH): 54 x 49 x 38cm

  • Power: N/A

🧐 Types of Cylinder Lawn Mowers

The most common types of cylinder lawn mowers are:

The most popular type of cylinder lawnmower is the corded electric mower. Cordless manual reel mowers are also popular amongst people looking for a quiet, environmentally-friendly alternative to electric and petrol-powered models.

✂️ How Does A Cylinder Mower Work?

A cylinder mower works by using a scissor-like cutting system, with rotating blades that trap grass blades against a fixed bottom plate. This slices the grass as the mower is pushed forwards, producing a short, cropped cut.


The more blades that spiral around the cylinder in the mower, the faster and finer the cut – but the more blades you’ll need to sharpen. The cylinder width can vary. Wider cylinders allow for a quicker cut with fewer laps of your lawn, but may reduce the mower’s maneuverability.


A cylinder lawn mower might be powered by mains electricity, petrol, or a battery. It might also be push-powered, meaning that the pushing force from the user prompts the mower’s blade to spin.


Most reel mowers have a grass box at the front. As the grass is cut, it’s propelled into the grass box. You’ll need to empty the box periodically when it gets full.


You can push the mower along the lawn on four wheels (or two main wheels and two supporting wheels or a roller, depending on the mower model).


Some reel lawn mowers have a rear roller, which creates stripes in your lawn as you mow.

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🏁 How Do You Start A Cylinder Mower?

The method of starting a cylinder lawn mower depends on the exact mower type:

  • To start a corded electric cylinder mower, plug the mower into a power outlet and press the “start” button while holding down on the handle lever. The mower will only run when the handle lever is pressed down.

  • To start a manual reel mower, place the mower in a suitable spot in your lawn and push the mower forwards. Manual mowers are people-powered, so there’s no button to press and nothing to plug in.

  • To start a petrol cylinder lawnmower, put the mower into start position and pull the starter cord to engage the engine.

✂️ How To Use A Cylinder Mower: Step-By-Step

Follow these steps to use a cylinder mower:

  1. Do a quick visual inspection of the mower to make sure the blade, chassis, and cord (if your mower has one) are in good working condition.

  2. Place your mower in a suitable starting point of your lawn (e.g. a corner, pointing length-ways down your lawn), and plug it in (if it uses a power cord).

  3. Start the mower if it has a starting function, then mow your lawn by walking while pushing the mower in front of you. Empty the grass box when needed.

  4. After you’ve finished, clean the mower and check all the parts, then return it to storage.

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🧰 Parts Of A Cylinder Lawn Mower

The main parts of a cylinder mower are:

✂️ Cylinder Blade & Cutter Bar

The cylinder blade consists of a cylinder with multiple sharp blades and a stationary cutter bar at the rear of the mower. When the engine is on, the cylinder scoops the grass towards the cutter bar and the spinning edges of the blades come into contact with the bar, like the two blades on a pair of scissors.

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🏍 Motor

Electric and petrol cylinder mowers use a motor, which drives the blades to spin when the mower is switched on. Manual reel mowers don’t use a motor because they’re powered by the person pushing the mower.

📦 Grass Collection Box/Bag

Most cylinder mowers have a grass box that collects the grass blades as you mow. Some types of reel mowers, like manual reel mowers, might not have this feature.

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💪 Handle

The handles of a cylinder lawnmower extend up from the machine to a comfortable pushing height. There are two grips: one for each hand to hold as you mow.

🚲 Wheels

A conventional electric cylinder lawnmower has four equally-sized wheels: two at the front and two at the back.


Manual cylinder lawn mowers have two primary wheels and a set of smaller wheels or a bar of rear rollers for support.

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🤼 Cylinder Mowers Vs Rotary Mowers

Cylinder mowers are the less popular mower type sold for home gardening. When shopping for lawnmowers, you’re most likely to come across rotary mowers.


The key difference between cylinder mowers and rotary lawn mowers is the type of blade used: cylinder mower blades are vertically-rotating and can cut grass very short with a scissoring action, while rotary mower blades rotate horizontally and use a “smashing” or “chopping” motion that rips the ends off the grass blades.


Cylinder reel lawn mowers are better for your garden’s health because they cut grass neatly rather than tearing the ends. They also allow for a shorter cut. However, these mowers are also more expensive and aren’t usually worth the extra cost for the average person who just wants a regular mower to maintain their lawn.

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Cylinder Mower

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Rotary Mower

📝 Pros & Cons Of Cylinder Mowers

Let’s take a quick look at some of the pros and cons of cylinder mowers.

✅ Cylinder Mower Pros

📏 Cuts Grass Shorter

A cylinder mower cuts closer to the ground than a rotary lawn mower, so if you like the manicured, ornamental look for your lawn, this mower type could be your best option.


🕸 Reduced Risk Of Grass Diseases

The cylinder mower’s neater cut reduces the likelihood of grass diseases and helps you to maintain a healthier lawn.


🏋🏻 Manual Options Available

Some cylinder mowers are manual – an option that you don’t get with rotary mower models. If you want a mower that will help you keep fit and reduce your environmental impact, consider a manual reel mower.


↪️ Rollers For Striped Lawns

The high-end cylinder mowers have front or back rollers that help you to easily achieve that desirable striped lawn.


❌ Cylinder Mower Cons

👎 Not Ideal For Long Grass

Cylinder lawn mowers can’t handle long grass as well as rotary lawn mowers, so you might struggle to cut your grass for the first time in the spring with this mower type.


🌳 Not Good With Stones & Leaves

If leaves, sticks, or stones regularly end up on your lawn, a cylinder lawnmower will struggle to ride roughshod over this debris as a standard mower would.


🛠 More Maintenance

Cylinder blades require more maintenance than rotary blades for one simple reason: there are more of them and they’re finer. Sharpening the blades isn’t hard, but it’s a hassle.


💰 Costlier Upfront

Cylinder lawn mowers cost more money upfront than rotary lawn mowers, so they’re probably not right for you if you’re looking for a budget-friendly mower.

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📊Electric, Petrol, and Manual Mowers Comparision Chart

Electric Mowers Petrol Mowers Manual Mowers
Pros ✅ Quiet operation, lightweight, and easy to maneuver. ✅ Simple to use, no need for fuel or electricity.
Environmental Impact ✅ No emissions during operation, eco-friendly. ✅ Zero emissions, environmentally friendly.
Maintenance ✅ Low maintenance, no need for oil changes or spark plug replacements. ✅ Powerful cutting performance, suitable for large lawns. ✅ Minimal maintenance required.
Cutting Quality ✅ Consistent cutting performance, suitable for small to medium-sized lawns. ✅ Effective on various grass types, can handle tall or thick grass. ❌ Requires more effort and precision, may result in uneven cuts.
Noise Level ✅ Quieter operation, less disruptive to neighbors. ❌ Noisier compared to electric mowers. ✅ Silent operation.
Power Dependency ❌ Limited runtime, requires access to electrical outlets or battery recharging. ✅ Continuous operation with fuel availability. ❌ Relies solely on human power.
Fuel Dependency ❌ Requires a power source, either electricity or battery charge. ✅ Requires gasoline or petrol. ❌ No fuel required.
Cost ❌ Initial cost may be higher, but lower long-term operating costs. ✅ Lower initial cost, but higher long-term operating costs (fuel, oil changes, etc.). ✅ Lower initial cost and operating cost.
Mobility ✅ Lightweight and easy to move around. ✅ Suitable for large lawns, no cord limitations. ✅ Portable and can be used anywhere.
Pollution ✅ No emissions during operation, reduces air pollution. ❌ Emissions contribute to air pollution. ✅ Zero emissions, reduces air pollution.

🔧 How To Maintain A Cylinder Mower’s Performance

There are a few mower maintenance jobs that you should do to keep your cylinder lawnmower in good working order:

  • Checking and tightening the nuts and bolts – before every cut

  • Cleaning the underside of the mower – after every cut

  • Emptying out and cleaning the grass box – after every cut

  • Sharpening the blades – usually once a year

Mower maintenance is essential for any type of mower because it ensures a maintained high-quality cut and extends the life of the machine.

💳 Are Cylinder Mowers Worth It?

Cylinder mowers are worth it for you if you’re a gardening enthusiast who wants to spend extra money on a mower that will give you the neatest manicured lawn with a low risk of disease.


Cylinder mowers are more expensive than rotary mowers, and they’re also not as widely available. Plus, while cylinder mowers do produce a neater cut than rotary mowers, they’re unlikely to distinctly improve the quality of your lawn.


So, a cylinder lawn mower is only worth it if you’re very passionate about your garden’s health and appearance.


Otherwise, if you’re just looking for a mower that can handle all terrains and will cut your grass as quickly and efficiently as possible, you may as well save your money and opt for a rotary mower.

📈 Cylinder vs Rotary Mowers – Key Differences

Rotary Lawn Mowers Cylinder Lawn Mowers
Cutting Circular blade Horizontal blades
Mechanism Impact and chop Cut and trap
Cutting Rough and tall grass Short and fine grass
Height Adjustments Usually multiple Usually fewer options
Cutting Width Wider range (typically 18-22 inches) Narrower range (typically 14-20 inches)
Grass Collection Options for bagging or mulching Typically includes grass box for collection
Stripes Difficult to achieve Easier to achieve striped appearance
Maintenance Simpler and easier More complex and specific
Price Range Wide range of prices Generally more expensive