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The Drawbacks of Mulching Mowers

lawn image by Allyson Ricketts from

A mulching mower is an adaptation of a rotary mower, which is a conventional, motorized lawn mower used for residential lawn care. The difference is that a mulching mower cuts grass blades into minuscule pieces, allowing the grass to decompose faster than grass cut by a conventional mower. Despite this advantage, mulching mowers also have drawbacks.

No Discharge Chute

Certain rotary mowers have a discharge chute that either traps grass clippings in an attached container or emits them from one side of the mower once the grass blades are cut, making it easier to dispose of grass trimmings in a receptacle or compost pile. Mulching mowers do not have discharge chutes. Instead, they release grass trimmings underneath the mower as they cut grass. However, because they produce tiny grass clippings, decomposition occurs quickly and therefore lessens yard waste.

Less Effective on Wet Grass

Another drawback of mulching mowers is that they are less effective when used to cut wet grass. In some cases, the machine may not cut the grass at all due to the blade configuration. As mulching mowers glide along the turf, they tend to push grass leaves down rather than lift the leaves to cut them. Mulching mowers can only be used to cut dry grass.

More Maintenance

Although a mulching mower has several razor sharp blades that enable it to finely chop grass, its blades must be kept sharp in for it to perform effectively. Repeated use of a mulching mower dulls its blades over time. While all mower blades should be sharpened at least once per year, mulching mower blades may require additional sharpening, such as two or three times per year depending on mower use. Regular sharpening guarantees consistent results.

Mulching Mower Blades

Blades designed for mulching have a greater cutting surface or more cutting edges than standard blades. The best blades are only as effective as the person using them. To get the most out of your mulching lawn mower, set the blade height to cut off only about a third of the grass. This will reduce clumping, as will mowing when the grass is completely dry. Very wet or tall grass cannot be effectively mulched in most cases. In these cases, it might be best to bag the cuttings and then spread them evenly over the grass by hand, or use them as mulch around trees or in the flower bed.

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