Regular mowing is an important factor in proper lawn maintenance. The type of mowing blade required will depend on how short the turf needs to be or what task you are performing. Regular maintenance of your mower blades is essential to keeping your lawn looking its best. Just as with scissors, a dull mower blade will not give you the clean cut you need, so always remember to sharpen and clean your mower blades on a regular basis.
Reel mower blades consist of a minimum of 5 separate blades which are connected to a shaft. This shaft spins between two wheels with a stationary bedknife. During mowing, the grass is caught between the bedknife and the blades, resulting in a precise, clean cut similar to using scissors. Reel blades are commonly used on areas where the turf must be kept quite short, such as golf greens and sports fields. In these instances, it not unusual to use a reel that has 11 to 13 blades in order to mow the grass to the length required with precision. (reference 1 graph 5 and 6)
The rotary blade is the blade most people are familiar with. This standard blade consists of a horizontal blade that spins in a circle, at high speed, cuting the grass upon impact with the first 1/2 inch of the blade. Keeping your rotary blades sharp will give your lawn a better cut. If the blade is allowed to dull the result is a tearing of the grass that leaves unsightly brown tips. A rotary blade is not able to cut grass as short as a reel blade, but its lower price and ease of use makes it a suitable choice for home lawn maintenance. (reference 1 graph 5)
The mulching blade is similar in design and function to the rotary blade. Where the two differ is the shape of the blade's cutting edge. Unlike the rotary blade, with its straight edge, the mulching blade's face is curved. This curved cutting edge creates a vacuum within the mower deck and continues to cut leaves until they become a fine mulch. The mulching blade is typically used during the fall to clean up leaf litter and return the mulched leaves to the lawn as organic material. (reference 2 > Mowing Equipment > graph 2 and 3)