Can you use mulching blades with side discharge mower

While mowing lawns, cutting the grass into smaller uniform pieces for effective mulching is every landscaper’s desire. So, you’re probably considering getting a set of blades to combine with your mower for the job. However, one of the questions that often arises with most landscaping hobbyists is: can you use mulching blades with side discharge mower? 

You can use mulching blades with side discharge mower. They cut the grass into finer pieces – usually 2.5-3 inches – far better than regular blades. Even so, specific mulching blades work best on specific side discharge mowers. So, check the recommendations provided by the manufacturer. 

As you think about combining your side discharge mower with suitable mulching blades, keep reading this article to learn about the essential considerations to evaluate for the best results. 

What Is a Mulching Blade and How Does It Work?

Can you use mulching blades with side discharge mower

A mulching blade is a lawnmower blade that helps cut grass and collects it into the cutting deck for finer chopping. Once the grass is of the desired size or height, it’s recycled into the lawn as mulch. 

The following are the key features of mulching blades: 

  • Curved design: Generally, the shape of a mulching blade is curved rather than a straight footprint seen in standard blades. The curved design helps with airflow circulation in the deck to cut clipping finely. 
  • Longer cutting surfaces: The blades offer extended or longer cutting surfaces to enhance thorough grass cutting. 
  • Lift and recirculation function: As the mower cuts grass, the design of the mulching blade lifts the clippings in the deck and, through the swirling airflow pattern, facilitates the clippings to be cut into smaller pieces. 
  • Clippings recycling capability: Mulching blades may not be the best for discharging or bagging grass clippings. But, they are tailor-made for recycling grass into the lawn. 

In a nutshell, mulching blades incorporate the abovementioned functions to create a unique design. This facilitates efficient airflow that helps cut grass clippings into smaller desirable pieces. 

Grass cutting happens in the mower deck. The mulching blades then help return grass to the lawn for mulching. The mulch distribution is usually even across the lawn to give your lawn a neater appearance. 

To get the most out of mulching blades, mow regularly and adequately maintain the mower deck. By doing these, mulching becomes more effective using the mulching blades. 

What Is Side Discharge and How Does It Work? 

Side discharge is a function on lawnmowers designed to release grass clippings from the side of the mower deck during mowing. When your mower has this feature, there’s no reason for bagging. 

In the design, lawnmowers made for side discharge function have a discharge opening on the deck’s side to expel the clippings. The opening is usually placed on the side opposite the operator

Side discharge uses high-velocity airflow within the deck to disperse the clippings. Blade rotation underneath the mower deck is at the center of the high velocity during mowing. 

Grass expulsion happens under this pressure generated by the airflow. The speedily rotating blade lifts the cut grass towards the discharge opening, directing it outside into the lawn. 

The process can be messy as clippings may fly in all directions to create an unsightly scene of your lawn. However, some side discharge systems come with baffles to control the direction of clippings ejection

In that regard, you simply adjust the baffles to ensure clippings are well controlled. When you do this, you may achieve uniform discharge because grass clippings are evenly distributed. 

Advantages of Side Discharge

  • Easy and convenient 
  • It’s the best method for mowing on a wet lawn
  • No clogging 
  • Quick and efficient mowing 
  • Great mowing technique for taller grass
  • Requires less engine power 

Disadvantages of Side Discharge

  • Clippings may be thrown in different directions, causing a mess on your lawn.
  • If you desire a clean, well-done lawn, you can’t use side discharge 

How to Use Mulching Blades With Side Discharge Mower

Mulching blade vs. bagging blade

To use mulching blades with a side discharge mower, you need first to understand the size of your work for better preparation. Fortunately, this combination can work both for small and large lawns. 

Here’s how you can use mulching blades with side discharge mower:

1. Choose the Right Mulching Blades

The key is to buy the mulching blades compatible with your side discharge mower. If you have planned to mulch your lawn, the regular factory blades should not be used. 

Also, ensure the mulching blades are high quality and their cutting edges are designed for the job. Remember, the blades should be able to cut grass clippings into finer pieces. 

2. Read Manufacturer’s Instructions

Every machine or equipment comes with its own set of instructions in a manual. Make sure to read and understand the guidelines. 

You shouldn’t assume that you know how to use such equipment. You may not be well-versed in one or two things regarding the particular model you purchased. Models have slight variations in blade installation and usage. 

3. Wear Appropriate Safety Gear

It’s no rocket science that safety comes first, any day. So, wear protective gear such as safety glasses, closed-toe shoes, and ear protection. 

In addition, always make sure the mower is not turned on before you are ready to begin mowing.  

4. Get Your Mower Ready

Usually, the side discharge mower will have its factory regular blades. This means you first must remove these blades, which involves undoing a few bolts and nuts. Then, mount the new mulching blades.

Even so, make use of the instruction manual for a smooth interchange. If you undertake the process mindlessly, you may do the replacement wrongly, leading to malfunctions. 

5. Adjust the Mower to the Recommended Mulching Height

Most importantly, you want to set the mulching height of the mower to the recommended 2-4 inches. Generally, mowing heights range from 2.5-3 inches, depending on factors such as the mowing season. 

That said, the instruction manual contains these recommendations, and you can refer to it for further directions to help you adjust the mower to the correct standards. 

Don’t cut the grass more than one-third of its height at a go. 

6. Consider Mowing at the Right Time

Morning mowing is better because temperatures are cooler, less wind, and less disturbance. Evening mowing offers a flexible schedule for busy people, convenience, and the grass gets an extended period to enjoy recovery.  

7. Mowing Should Be Slow

Don’t be in a rush to mow the entire field in a short period. This could lead to blades not cutting the grass well. 

However, mulching blades have enough time to chop clippings to the finest pieces if you do the mowing slowly and in a more controlled manner. The result is well-worked mulch for use on your lawn, giving the lawn an aesthetically pleasing appearance. 

8. Mow With Overlapping Passes

Even mulch distribution across the lawn results from controlled mowing and proper cutting of the clippings. You can enhance your lawn neatness by making overlapping passes to ensure more every area while mulching thoroughly. 

9. Finish By Cleaning Up Any Mess

You should now clean up any mess that happens when mowing. Large clumps of grass left behind can be unsightly. If you notice any, it’s time to run another pass to mulch them further. 

Mulching Blades Vs. Normal Blades on a Side Discharge Mower (Comparison)

The two primary blades of a lawn mower are mulching and normal blades. Both are used for lawn maintenance, but they serve different purposes. Let’s look at the table below to compare the two blade types. 

AspectMulching BladesNormal Blades
Blade design Specially designed with multiple cutting surfaces. Curved blade designStandard cutting surfaces. Straight edges. 
Cutting styleFine grass clippingsMay cut grass into slightly larger pieces
Clipping disposal Clippings recycled back to the lawnClippings are collected
Grass appearance Neat lookSome grass clumps may be seen, making the site unsightly
Nutrient recyclingIncorporates nutrients into the lawnClippings are collected for disposal elsewhere
Bagging required No bagging requiredBagging is required
Mulch thicknessThin layer of mulchNo mulch layer left behind 
Ideal grassBest for short grassGreat for long grass
Noise levelA bit quieterComes with some noise level
costSlightly expensiveStandard blade costs

Advantages of Mulching Blades on a Side Discharge Mower

The advantages of mulching blades are far and wide. Whether you are looking to increase your lawn vigor and efficiency, you’ll love having mulching blades on your equipment. 

Here are the benefits; 

  • Nutrient recycling: the clippings returned to the lawn decompose to add nutrients to the soil. 
  • Mulching blades encourage on-site recycling and soil conservation
  • You perform two activities at the same time – saving time, hassle, and money.
  • Your lawn grows healthy due to the nutrient benefits of the decomposed mulch.
  • Mulching blades build soil cover over time.

Final Thoughts

The question, “Can you use mulching blades with side discharge mower?” may have seemed complex at first, but we’ve unraveled the mystery for you today. 

While the choice ultimately depends on your specific lawn care needs and preferences, it’s clear that versatility is at your disposal. 

Whether you opt for mulching blades to nourish your lawn or stick with the trusty side discharge for expediency, the power lies in your hands.

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