How To Pick The Perfect Tow-Behind Mower

Whether you’re cutting rough trails, maintaining plots of land, or building your field of dreams, tow-behind mowers are up to any task.

Mowers Direct tow-behind mower
(Photo: Mowers Direct)

By Jose Castellanos

Whether you’re cutting rough trails, maintaining plots of land, or building your field of dreams, tow-behind mowers are up to any task.

There are three types of tow-behind mowers available:

  • Gang Reel
  • Finish Cut
  • Rough Cut

Designed to meet a variety of needs, these mowers have no propulsion of their own and must be towed using a riding mower, ATV, or UTV. Before choosing a tow-behind mower, be sure you know your towing vehicle’s towing capacity. You should not tow more weight than your tractor, ATV, or UTV is rated to handle. See the comparison chart below to see the differences between the classes of mowers:

Rough-Cut vs Finish-Cut Tow-Behind Mowers

Rough-cut mowers are designed for cutting through thick brush and weeds, and they can even hack through small saplings.

Finish-cut mowers are designed for cutting grass just like a lawn mower, and they can be offset behind your lawn or garden tractor to increase your cutting width and reduce the time it takes to finish mowing.

Gang Reel Mowers

Tow-behind reel mowers are ideal for mowing golf courses, very large lawns, athletic fields, and other open-range areas that require a quality cut. You’ll often see golf course landscapers towing gang mowers over fairways, cutting just grass.

Unlike most lawn mowers, gang reel mowers don’t have an engine. Instead, they’re towed behind an ATV or tractor at speeds up to 4 miles per hour. They’re easier to maintain because they’re entirely mechanical and require no gas or oil changes.

These ultra-wide mowers contain 3, 5, or 7 reels, stretching up to 11 feet wide so you can mow up to 5 acres per hour. Gang reel mowers cut like scissors, providing a precise finish for a well-manicured lawn. They’re not designed to cut high grass, weeds, or brush.

Finish Cut Mowers

Finish cut mowers, (a.k.a. trail mowers) are also designed for mowing large grassy areas — much like a gang reel mower. These mowers are built more like modern day lawn mowers with a high-powered engine mounted on top of a large cutting deck. If your property contains lots of trees shedding twigs and pine cones, you’ll need the extra engine strength to split them into smithereens.

With cutting widths up to 5½ feet, finish cut mowers aren’t as wide as gang reel mowers. However, the tow bar of a finish cut mower can be offset from the tow vehicle so that you can use both the mower deck on your tow vehicle (if so equipped) and the cutting deck of the finish cut mower in a side-by-side manner to increase the total cutting width. This would allow you to mow up to 30 or 32 acres per day.

A tow-behind finish cut mower will keep your lawn looking great. But if you have high grass, weeds, or brush that needs to be tamed, this isn’t the mower for you. Take a look below to learn about rough cut mowers.

Rough Cut Mowers

If you’ve got some over-grown, wild property that you’d like to tame, you’ll need the machete-like cutting action of a trail cutter. Tow-behind rough cut mowers — also known as trail cutters — use either one or two steel cutting bars that swing back and forth to cut vegetation up to 3” in diameter. Rough cut mowers feature powerful engines designed to thresh thick brush off the beaten path with no problem.

While these tow-behind mowers are capable of cutting through heavy brush, they’re not effective for cutting grass lawns.

tow-behind mowersJose Castellanos is a Lawn Mower Product Expert with Mowers Direct. Need more mower-buying information? Mowers Direct’s Best Mowers of 2018 is a buyers’ guide to everything from push/riding to commercial zero-turn and tow-behinds.