What's So Different About A Mulching Mower & Do You Need One?

If you are bagging your lawn clippings when you mow your lawn, you may want to consider a different method: mulching your grass. When you use a mulching lawn mower, you leave the clippings on the lawn, allowing them to decompose over time and to provide nutrients and food for the grass. While this sounds like a great idea, do you need a new mower that offers specific mulching capabilities? The mulching mower uses a system that circulates the yard clippings underneath the cutting deck, allowing the blades to continue chopping them until they are smaller and finer than the clippings from a standard mower. The system then forces the finely chopped plants back into the lawn, rather than leaving them sitting on top of healthy grass blades where they could block sunlight.

When selecting a lawn mower for your grass, you'll find mulching models in a variety of designs, including self-propelled, standard push, and riding mowers. It's important to note that an average battery-powered model doesn't have as much power for turning the blades at a high speed as a gas-powered one, which makes it more difficult to mulch successfully. If you want to go with a battery-powered model, select one with a greater amount of horsepower that is able to spin the blades at a high speed. Additionally, you need extra power for mulching when the grass is longer than usual. With longer grass, the blades need a faster spin rate to create extremely fine clippings properly.

Primary differences between mulching and regular lawn mowers

When trying to pick between a mulching and regular lawn mower, it's important to understand the differences. After all, the typical mulching mower has a slightly higher cost as compared to a regular mower. The blades represent a primary distinction between these two types of models. The curved blades in a mulcher are able to keep the clipped grass inside the cutting box for a longer period of time versus straight blades, helping to create finer clippings that are better for dropping back onto the lawn. To make it easier to mulch successfully, the clippings need to be small so they will decompose faster and add nutrients. The straighter blade on a regular mower simply cuts the grass once, rather than circulating it in the deck for multiple cuts.

The design of the deck on the mulching lawn mower is quite a bit different from a regular model, too, making use of a deeper design that almost has a dome shape, rather than the shallow and flat deck of a regular mower. The dome shape is ideal for allowing the curved blades to recirculate the cuttings, keeping them from falling to the ground until they become fine enough. Additionally, the shape delivers a recirculating airflow design that keeps the clippings inside the dome longer than the flat deck on a regular mower, which creates an airflow that pushes the clippings toward the chute that feeds the bag.

Is it a good idea to use a mulching lawn mower?

Choosing to mulch your lawn clippings offers a number of benefits for your yard and for the environment as a whole. You provide nutrients for the grass by recirculating old clippings, which means you may be able to use a smaller amount of fertilizer. Placing the fine cuttings back onto the lawn helps the soil retain moisture, meaning that you do not have to water as often. Recirculating your grass clippings into the yard also reduces the amount of yard waste that ends up in the trash. You will spend less time mowing and caring for the lawn when you are mulching your grass, as it takes far longer to stop and empty the bag multiple times during a cutting.

However, there are some disadvantages to using a mulching mower beyond the higher cost of the actual machine. If you don't like to cut your grass very often, your clippings may end up too long to allow you to mulch effectively. If you like cutting after a rainfall or when the yard is wet, mulching may not be as effective then either, as wet grass tends to clump together, making it tougher to cut into small pieces.