Spindle Mower Buying Guide

To achieve a beautiful-looking lawn, you need to take proper care of it. This doesn’t just mean watering, fertilizing, and aerating occasionally. A thick, green lawn can be achieved mainly through proper mowing.

If you really want to take care of your lawn, for example in the garden of your family home, experts recommend that you use a spindle mower, which does not cut the blades but rather trims them. What’s more, you can achieve a beautiful English lawn with stripes because these machines often have rollers instead of wheels to smooth the grass in a certain direction.

In the following article, we’ll look at the mechanism by which the height of the lawn is shortened, but we’ll also look at the ideal width of cut, types of reel mowers, and other aspects of this garden treatment.

How to choose a reel mower in a nutshell:

Before you get into a really detailed review of the various parameters of a riding mower, it’s important to get the basics in a nutshell. That’s why we’ve prepared the following points.

  • Suitability – Reel mowers are designed for slower, gentle lawn maintenance. For quick mowing of a large garden, a rotary mower is better.
  • Drive – There is a choice of basic manual machines or more expensive ones with a drive. Manual mowers are the most widely used, with petrol, electric, or cordless mowers for larger areas.
  • The number of blades – The number of blades in the spindle affects the frequency of cutting as well as the amount of grass the mower can hold. Most often you will come across 5 blades, generally, there are models from 4 to 10 blades.
  • Swath width –The swath width of the mower affects the speed of work (the larger the value, the larger the swath of mowed area). Beware of more rugged terrain, where a large swath is more of a nuisance to handle.
  • Weight – The weight of the mower also has a big influence on maneuverability and overall user-friendliness, especially in the case of hand-powered models (but they are generally lighter than motorized models).
  • The richness of accessories – Accessories can be a secondary selection criterion. Look at what the dealer offers in price, and also at the possibility of extending the mower to a multifunctional device.
  • Service – Particularly with more expensive models, the availability of spare parts and fast service, or extended warranty, play a role.

Mowing method

And what makes a reel mower so different compared to, for example, the popular and widespread rotary mowers? Especially in the way the grass height is cut.

When mowing with rotary mowers, which are the most common, the grass is cut with the blade of the cutting blade and it takes up to a week for the plant to recover. When the blade rotates very quickly, like a helicopter propeller, the blades can tear the blades and the ends will fray, which then causes unsightly browning of the lawn. In addition, at high speeds, the blade cuts the grass several times in a particular place because the forward movement is not very fast in relation to the rotation speed.

The mowing mechanism, or rather the cutting mechanism, is different, more lawn-friendly, and more gentle on the lawn. There are several helix-shaped blades and counter-blades in the design of the mower. The helical blade rotates as it moves forward and cuts the grass blade. In addition, the more advanced models do not use wheels when moving, but ride on rollers, creating the typical stripes.

Mowing method

And what makes a reel mower so different compared to, for example, the popular and widespread rotary mowers? Especially in the way the grass height is cut.

When mowing with rotary mowers, which are the most common, the grass is cut with the blade of the cutting blade and it takes up to a week for the plant to recover. When the blade rotates very quickly, like a helicopter propeller, the blades can tear the blades and the ends will fray, which then causes unsightly browning of the lawn. In addition, at high speeds, the blade cuts the grass several times in a particular place because the forward movement is not very fast in relation to the rotation speed.

The mowing mechanism, or rather the cutting mechanism, is different, more lawn-friendly, and more gentle on the lawn. There are several helix-shaped blades and counter-blades in the design of the mower. The helical blade rotates as it moves forward and cuts the grass blade. In addition, the more advanced models do not use wheels when moving, but ride on rollers, creating the typical stripes.

SpindleRotary
SlowerFaster, suitable for larger areas
Most often hand-poweredThe most common types are petrol-powered with drive
Straw cutting (gentler lawn care)Straw cutting (more stress on the lawn)
Less noisyLouder
Cut 2 to 6 cmCutting up to 8 cm

When mowing with a spindle mower, there is no fraying of the stalk tips, the lawn does not turn brown and, if mowed regularly, the grass thickens into a pleasant green carpet. Such lawn care is particularly suitable for owners of smaller and flatter gardens who do not hesitate to spend enough time on lawn care.

With a spindle mower, bear in mind that you have to mow the garden quite often because if the grass gets too tall, the whole unit becomes overwhelmed. A cutting height of 2 to 6 centimeters is therefore ideal. Rotary mowers can handle up to 8 centimeters.

The rotary mowing system is also used by special types of lawn care equipment – robotic mowers and garden tractors. Other garden maintenance aids include string mowers and related brushcutters.

The number of knives

The number of blades that are located in the helix of the spindle is also important. The standard number of blades is between 4 and 10, and you should choose the ideal number depending on how often and how high you want to cut the grass. If the height of the lawn is too high, it will only be run over and smoothed out, the mower has no chance of cutting it well.

The number of blades directly affects the frequency of cutting, which is a key parameter. It tells you how many times the mower will cut in an area of one meter. For example, a spindle with ten blades may have a low speed and cut harder than a mower with fewer blades and faster rotation. The speed needs to be set so that the cut is of good quality but at the same time the blades do not wear out too quickly. In addition, high speeds can have a negative effect on noise levels.

The smaller the number of blades, the further apart they are and the more grass the spindle can hold. With a larger number of blades, the gap between the blades becomes smaller, and therefore less grass can fit between them.

Five knivesSix knivesTen knives
Cutting frequency (number/meter)6072120
Ideal cutting height (mm)25 to 4520 to 4010 to 20
UseManual and electricWalk-behind mowersProfessional mowers (golf courses)
Mowing frequency11 to 22 to 4

The five-blade spindle that is typical of hand mowers is the one that gardeners most often encounter. One reason is weight reduction and better handling, the other is practical usability. In fact, a spindle with fewer blades is capable of cutting even longer grass. On the other hand, spindles with a blade count of around 10 are usually found on golf courses, for example, where frequent trimming of the lawn is needed at a lower height. Higher blade counts are typical of powered spindle mowers.

Types of mowers by drive

As with conventional lawnmowers, there are several types of spindle mowers according to the drive that customers can choose from.

Manual drive

Almost everyone is familiar with hand-powered reel mowers, for example from our grandmothers’ gardens. The mower is not equipped with a conventional drive, so you have to take care of all the movement when mowing by pushing the mower in front of you. When you move forward, a special mechanism spins the blade cassette and mows. The great advantage of hand mowers is the very low purchase price, which starts at just a thousand.

Another indisputable positive is the very low noise intensity that this device emits (Source: Peoplepoweredmachines.com). You don’t have to think about cables, recharging batteries, or refilling gasoline. You simply pull the machine out of the shed and push it, which with a bit of exaggeration will also benefit your health as you get a workout. Another fairly major positive of handheld reel mowers compared to other power units is that they also have zero environmental impact, as no fuel or electricity is consumed. This type of machine is also quite trouble-free.

However, self-propelled power is of course associated with the problem that physically weaker individuals may have difficulty handling it. Furthermore, if the garden is on a slope, they will find mowing significantly more difficult than with machines that have some sort of self-propulsion. According to some experts, mowing with a hand mower is not as good as with petrol mowers, for example, where the blades move faster.

Other drives

Lawnmowers that do not rely on users’ manual power but have their own drive are fewer in number on the market, and their big disadvantage is the significantly higher purchase cost. For all types you also have to add the need for refuelling, battery charging, cable pulling and last but not least the environmental footprint associated with the drive. In addition, these cylinder mowers (especially the petrol ones) are relatively heavy and more prone to breakdown.

On the other hand, the positive side is easier handling when mowing in the case of walk-behind machines, faster rotation of the blade helix and the resulting better lawn care. In addition, the airflow helps to blow the grass clippings straight into the collection basket.

With these mowers, which often use special rollers for movement, you can achieve a neat English lawn with neat stripes of varying shades of green. In addition, you can also use the various exchange cartridges, where you can attach a brush, aerator or verticutting cartridge instead of the blade helix, for example.

Other powered mowers include:

  • Petrol spindle mowers – Generally, this category can be described as the most expensive, but the wide cutting range speaks for it, which saves you time because you can cut a larger amount of grass at any given time than with narrower mowers. It’s also better suited to larger lawns and has its own running gear. You always have to think about refuelling, these machines are also noisier.
  • Electric spindle mowers – The advantage is quieter and more environmentally friendly operation compared to petrol-type cylinder mowers. However, you always have to think about where you connect the machine, if you have a long enough extension cord, where you also have to watch out not to run over it. Electric mowers are considerably cheaper to get and lighter than petrol ones, but you can mow a smaller area with them.
  • Cordless spindle mowers – Battery-powered mowers combine the advantages of petrol and electric mowers. You don’t have to worry about a power cord, but you also have a fairly quiet and eco-friendly garden helper. The more significant disadvantage is the limitation of the battery capacity, which means it is intended for smaller mowing areas. Always find out if the battery is supplied directly with the mower or if you will have to buy it separately. This can significantly increase the purchase cost.

Width of cut

The cutting width, i.e. the width of the cutting strip that you can cover at one moment with the reel mower when moving forward, is also directly related to the size of the lawn area the machine is designed for.

Handheld – The reach is most often between 30 and 40 cm. These types of models are slower, so they are most often suited for maintaining lawn areas up to 200 square metres.

Electric and cordless – The width of reach is normally a little larger than that of hand mowers. It ranges most commonly between 35 and 45cm, but you’ll also find 50cm widths on the market. The drive also makes the mowing faster, so we can recommend the mowers for areas of around 300 square metres.

Petrol – You can use this type in medium and larger gardens. The mowing is fast and the cutting width is often over 50 centimetres, but you can also find a model with a width of over 70 centimetres, but these can only be used on very flat terrain. Manufacturers claim that petrol spindle mowers can cover up to 2,000 square metres. Here it depends on whether you need to take advantage of the spindle mowing mechanism. If not, you might want to consider getting a smaller garden tractor for such a large area.

Weight

Especially in the case of hand mowers, weight is a really important parameter when choosing one. The heavier the machine, the quicker user fatigue will set in. Especially if the reel mower will be used in a larger area, make sure to choose a lighter model that is easier to handle.

The weight of hand-held reel mowers is around 15 to 20 kilograms. Electric and battery-powered mowers are similar. For petrol ones, expect a significantly higher weight figure.

Accessories

A reel mower is not just about cutting the height of the green carpet in your garden. In some cases, you can turn this helper into a machine with several functions in one thanks to interchangeable cartridges:

  • Brushing Cartridge – Brushes out old thatch, removes grass after verticutting, needles, bark and so on. The grass is also combed, highlighting the stripes.
  • Aeration cassette – Breaks up the surface of the grassed soil so it can breathe and take in water, air and nutrients properly.
  • Verticutter – Designed to cut through the turf to a certain depth so that the plant is not damaged, but at the same time air and water can reach the roots better. Verticutting cuts off the overgrown rhizomes of longer grasses and clears away the old growth.
  • Brush – Use the rotary brush to accentuate strips of lawn, sand in sanding and pick up small messes after grooming.

Among other accessories, we can mention the following for spindle mowers:

  • Collection basket – If you don’t want to leave the grass lying loose on the lawn (which is sometimes recommended for fertilisation), you can catch the cuttings in the collection basket. Unlike conventional mowers, this is positioned both front and rear on different models. The basket at the front gives you an overview of how full it is. Once the basket is full, you can easily detach it from the mower and dispose of the biomass in a pile or, for example, in a compost or grass bag.
  • Grass bag – You can also buy a large bag for your grass clippings, where you can dump them directly from the collection bin and then load the whole bag and take it away.
  • Special wheels – For some models you can buy, for example, transport wheels, wheels suitable for taller grass, etc.
  • Holders and stands – If you want to store your mower well, you can get special holders for the machine as well as interchangeable cassettes. You can then mount drink or mobile phone holders directly on the mower.
  • Lighting – If you want to garden in the dark or in the dusk, you can equip yourself with special torches.
  • Tarpaulin – A handy accessory if you want to protect the mower when storing it outside.
  • Cleaning and maintenance tools – On some models, you can get special tools for cleaning the mower.
  • Sharpeners – During the mowing season, you can use sharpeners that you spray on the blades and they grind themselves against the counter blades. However, keep in mind that at least once a season you should have the blades sharpened by a professional on a specific sharpening machine. The ideal time is before the season starts in the spring, or at the end of the season in the fall.

Price

Because there are more ways to power a reel mower, there is also a wide range of prices you can get the machine for. We recommend looking at mowers from proven brands such as Gardena, Bosch, Fieldmann, AL-KO, Hecht, Allet, and Swardman.

Price up to CZK 5,000

Here you will find the cheapest models of handheld reel mowers with a cutting width of up to 40 centimeters. Most of them are designed for a cutting area of around 200 m2.

Price from 5 000 to 15 000 CZK

At the lower end of the range, look for premium handheld reel mowers with a wider reach. At the same time, however, you’ll also start to find electric and battery-powered mowers that are already capable of taking care of larger gardens of around 400 to 500 square meters.

Price above 15,000 CZK

In this price range, you will find really demanding users and professionals who want to take very good care of their lawn and want to spend quite a bit of money on it in addition to their time. These are mainly electric and petrol spindle mowers, even with a very wide reach, or even self-propelled. The result is professional lawn care for lawns of more than 1,000 square meters. Prices for the most expensive models can run into hundreds of thousands of crowns.

Tips for mowing and garden maintenance

It’s a good idea to avoid stressing the lawn. Mowing with a rotary mower is drastic on it and if you want a really good-looking green carpet, look for a good reel mower. A good lawn should be uniform and complete, with no empty spots or weeds. A dense root system is important, and the above-ground part should be deep green.

But before you start landscaping your garden, keep the following tips and hints in mind.

  • Try analyzing the condition of your lawn with a soil probe.
  • If the ground is very trampled, for example, water may run down it and not reach the roots, as well as fertilizer with nutrients.
  • Verticut at least twice a year – cut through the sod so that air, water and nutrients can easily reach the roots. The depth of the cut with a special device or rake is between 2 and 5 millimeters.
  • After verticutting, top up the lawn.
  • Remove broad-leaved broadleaved weeds – if there are fewer plants, just remove them mechanically, if there are more in one place, use selective herbicides. Apply the herbicide 2 to 3 days after mowing at low temperatures, then wait about a week to 10 days for the herbicide to penetrate from the leaves to the roots. Prevent access by children and pets. It is best to spray the lawn with herbicide before going on holiday.
  • If the lawn is mowed poorly, lots of weeds will appear and the lawn will thin and turn brown. Remember, proper mowing makes the lawn. When it is regular, it encourages the grass to grow back, creating a uniform, dense sward. Depending on the type of lawn, mow between 2 and 5 cm (summer around 4 cm, never mow below 2 cm as scalping occurs). A sharp blade is needed, otherwise, the grass will fray. Cut the grass by no more than one-third of its height.
  • By mowing, the lawn loses a lot of biomass. If you do not leave the grass loose but collect it, you need to fertilize it. Fertilize approximately once a month (2 to 3 days after mowing), the ideal rate is around 20 to 30 grams per square meter. The most important ingredient in fertilizer is nitrogen, which can promote growth, and the iron will also add dark green color. There are also fertilizers directly with selective herbicides (smart fertilizer).
  • Water the lawn adequately, especially after fertilizing.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cylinder Lawnmowers

How and what kind of Cylinder Lawnmower should I choose?

When a user is looking for a spindle mower that is generally more lawn-friendly, they will most often come across the non-powered version, i.e. manual models. In the minority, there are mowers on the market powered by mains electricity, batteries, or even petrol. When choosing, the most important thing is to work with the parameter of the width of the cut and the number of blades in the spindle. The wider the reach, the faster you can mow the lawn, but the machine is harder to handle and heavier. The larger number of blades then limits how thick and mature the grass you can cut. The most common constellation is 5 blades and a width of around 30 to 40 cm.

As already mentioned, the weight of the mower and the overall ergonomics of the work are very important factors. A lighter mower will be much easier to handle, especially with a manual mower. Of course, the accessories included in the price can also be a factor in the choice, which may include maintenance tools, replacement cartridges (combing, aeration, etc.), a collection basket, and so on. Cylinder mowers can be conceived as truly multifunctional devices. Find the best cylinder mowers in our comparison.

What makes a reel mower better?

Compared to conventional lawn mowers, cylinder mowers are better for your lawn. In practice, they cut the grass rather than mow it. This avoids frayed stalk ends and browning of the lawn. In addition, when using this gentle mechanism, the lawn tends to thicken more and forms a soft green carpet.

Do petrol and electric models have any advantages?

You’ll pay more money to buy a mower from these categories, plus you’ll be faced with regular refills of petrol or worrying about the range of electricity. Not surprisingly, hand-powered products lead the way among walk-behind mowers. However, even automatic models have their advantages, such as self-propelled and faster blade rotation, or the ability to extend the use by fitting cartridges for aerating the soil or cutting through the sward.

How do I look after my lawn?

If your goal is a soft, lush green lawn, you can’t do without regular maintenance. At least twice a year, you should verticillate, i.e. prune the grass clumps, and then reseed the lawn. You also need to think about aeration, fertilization, and ongoing weeding. We have written a more complete procedure in this chapter.

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