Let’s have a look at two of the best mulching mowers if you value the convenience of cordless. Both have plenty of power, and can run up to 45 min and 60 min respectively. Let’s compare their features —
Snapper XD 82V / 19″ / 21″
- Runs up to 45 minutes
- Briggs & Stratton 82V battery
- Includes fast charger
- 3-in-1 : mulch, bag, or side-discharge
- Intelligent load-sensing system
- 7 height levels
- Self-propelled / variable speed
- 1.6 bushel bag
- Models : 19” push, 21” push, 21” self-propelled
- 5 year warranty
Greenworks Pro (2501202) / 21″
- Runs up to 60 minutes
- Rapid Charge : 60 min. for 80V 4.0Ah battery
- 21″ Steel deck
- 3-in-1 : mulch, side discharge or rear bag
- Smart Cut Technology
- Digital brushless motor
- Quiet / Instant start
- 7 height levels : 1⅜” to 3¾” cut
- Models : Self-propelled (MO80L410) & Push (2501202)
Mulching is a great alternative to bagging your clippings, especially if you don’t have easy access to a compost pile. On larger lawns, it is almost impossible to bag all your clippings because there will be over a dozen bags that you’ve got to carry over to the curb so the municipality can pick it up. Some landfills have even banned yard waste altogether, so you have no choice.
A lot of people have certain misconceptions about mulching, which we aim to clear up in this article by providing you with information that displays the numerous advantages of mulching. Not only is it less time- consuming compared to bagging, but also more environment friendly. And you get to reduce your fertilizer and irrigation costs by simply redistributing grass clippings within the lawn. Sounds cool, right? It is important to understand that not all lawn mowers are capable of mulching.
Many manufacturers offer mowers with “mulching kits”, but these don’t come close to a dedicated mulching mower in terms of performance. We aren’t going to review any of the bigger, more serious mulching mowers today. No, instead we are going to take a look at the best walk-behind 3-in-1 lawn mowers that do-it-all — bag, discharge, and mulch. The average homeowner reading this article could benefit a lot more from versatility instead of being locked into a single dedicated model, taking up a lot of extra space in the garage.
As you will learn later in the article, mulching isn’t for every lawn type. And there are some seasons during which you would much rather bag the clippings. A 3-in-1 mower gives you options, since not everybody can afford to have a separate mulching and bagging mower. Besides, these are the ideal size for the average American lawn. A deck width of 19 to 21 inches is all you need. So without further ado, let’s get straight to the reviews after which we shall discuss mulching and its merits/ demerits in more detail.
VIDEO | Snapper XD 82 Mower — A CLOSER LOOK
Reviews : Best Mulching Mowers
WORX WG774 / 20″ / 56V— Intellicut 56V
Superb quality at a relatively affordable price
One of the best cordless mulching mowers if you can find it in stock. This WORX 56V model has proven itself to be a real workhorse with consumers.
► Consider buying the Worx WG743 40V mulching mower if you can’t find the 56V in stock. Worx makes affordable products so it’s hard to go wrong with any of their mowers.
- 3-in-1 : Mulch, bag or side-discharge.
- 56-Volt Li-ion Batteries
- 19” cutting width
- Patented IntelliCut technology delivers power on demand
- Two removable/detachable batteries
- Can cut up to 9,400 sq. feet per charge.
- Foam padded handle for comfort
- Cutting height : 1-1/4″ -- 4″
- Cutting height positions : 7
- Grass collection capacity : 1.4 bushels
- Weight : 56.9 lbs
- Warranty : 3 years
“One of the lightest, most easy to use mowers you can currently purchase. It is cordless, which means there are zero emissions and you won’t get angry noise complaints from neighbors while trying to cut the lawn in the morning. ”
Ideal for: Small lawns (under 5000 sq. Ft), grasses that require low to medium frequency mowing (Kentucky Bluegrass, centipedegrass, etc.)
This compact wonder of a lawnmower is perfect for people who own smaller lawns that feature level ground, as it lacks any form of self- propulsion. But its lightweight nature and incredible performance help it stand out from the rest of the cordless mowers, and there’s even a steel deck for added durability. The rear wheels are larger than the front wheels, which is really helpful while turning since you can just pull the handle back to lift the front end with ease. It weighs just 56.9lbs, so you shouldn’t have any trouble pushing it up on mild inclines. However, we wouldn’t suggest this mower for hilly terrain as you’ll probably get tired of constantly pushing it uphill. Unless you’re highly energetic and looking for a good workout while mowing your lawn, in which case this is perfect for you.
VIDEO | A Closer Look at the WORX WG774
One of the features that we love about this mower is the simple cutting height adjustment. By using just one lever, you can choose from 7 different height settings between 1.25” and 4”. We’ve seen a lot of other push- behind mowers of this size which use individual lifting systems for each wheel, so you have to go through 4 levers just to change the height once (repeat all 4 steps for each increment in height). Not only is this method tedious, but it’s also very easy to set the wrong height on one wheel which causes your entire mower to become unbalanced and cut at an angle. The WORX WG774 tries to make things as easy as possible for the end user, and we appreciate the intuitive user experience. Want to know the battery charge levels? Just press a button on the center console which will light up an LED bar to give you an idea of how much charge is left.
In terms of performance, the WG774 performs incredibly well- better than what most people would expect from a 56V mower. It actually uses two battery packs, which combined give this mower an “official” max cutting area of 9400sq. Ft (which it rarely matches in real world applications). Nevertheless, you’ll still be able to cut around 2500 to 3000 square feet of thick grass with this mower before the charge runs out — and that’s with the turbo mode engaged, which significantly boosts cutting performance at the expense of battery life.
If you’re okay with doing things at a slightly slower pace, you can select the eco mode which increases runtime while reducing blade speed. The WG774 can mulch, side discharge, and bag. If you want to discharge from the side, just attach the side- discharge chute. Want to bag? Hook up the grass collection bag instead. Want to mulch? All you have to do is replace the side- discharge chute with the mulch plug which completely seals off the blade housing.
Intellicut: This mower uses WORX’s “IntelliCut” technology which is some really fancy stuff. It is a torque-on-demand system that senses your power requirements in real- time and increases or decreases motor performance accordingly. Basically, it sends more torque to the blade when it detects a bog down (typical while cutting thick or tall grass). This prevents the mower from stalling in thicker grass, and also extends battery life by conserving energy when you don’t need all the power.
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Snapper XD 82V MAX Cordless
Best self-propelled cordless mulching mower
“The front wheel drive makes this mower much easier to turn in comparison to a rear wheel drive mower, and it packs a 21” deck which is perfect for medium sized yards under 10,000 sq. Ft“
- Runs up to 45-minutes using the 2Ah Briggs & Stratton 82-Volt MAX battery
- Includes 2x lithium-ion batteries and 1 rapid charger
- 21″ steel mowing deck
- 3-in-1 : Mulch, bag, or side-discharge grass clippings with ease
- Intelligent technology adjusts power based on load
- Single lever, 7 height levels for optimal cutting
- Variable speed, self-propelled transmission
- Convenient vertical storage
- Push button start / 1.6 bushel bag
- Ergonomic rubber handle
Ideal for: Weekend mowing on the morning, small to medium- sized lawns under 0.25 acres.
You might not have heard of this brand, but they are a pretty old company with a rich history of developing some really interesting mowers. They invented the first self- propelled rotary lawn mower and are quite famous for their rear engine riding mowers. In 2002, Snapper was acquired by Simplicity Manufacturing which itself was acquired by Briggs & Stratton in 2004. So it seems they are under the leadership of Briggs & Stratton at the moment, with U.S. manufacturing facilities setup in Milwaukee, Munnsville, and Tupelo. Rest assured, these guys know how to make quality products.
Their XD series of cordless lawnmowers is perfect for residential properties of small to medium size, all XD series models are 3-in-1 with mulching, side-discharge, and bagging abilities. They are available in two different lineups- 82V MAX, or 48V MAX. We’re reviewing their 82V MAX model which is the plain version without any self propulsion. This is great if you’re dealing with small to medium lawns without any significant incline. The base 82V MAX version of this mower is available in 3 different versions: with a 2Ah battery, a 4Ah battery, or a 5Ah battery.
All of these have a 21” decks, except for model SXD19PWM82K which comes with a 19” deck. The decks are built from stainless steel, and you get to select from 7 different cutting heights by using just one lever. Not sure which version you should buy? Just go with more Ah equals higher runtime. For lawns between 2500 to 3000 sq. Ft, get the 2Ah model. For lawns between 3000 to 5000 sq. Ft, get the 4Ah model.
For lawns between 5000 to 8000 sq. Ft, get the 5Ah model. Apparently, blade speed stays pretty much the same (if the batteries are at full charge) no matter which 82V MAX battery you use. But as charge levels start to drop, you’ll notice less of a performance decline if your mower has a larger capacity battery (5Ah vs 2Ah). We recommend that you spend the extra money on a 4Ah kit, since it doesn’t cost a lot more compared to the 2Ah kit if you consider the near- 2X runtime increase.
For larger properties and hilly terrain, you might want to spend the extra money for Snapper’s XD 82V MAX “StepSense” series. These are equipped with self driving tech that automatically adjusts propulsion speed based on how fast or slow you’re walking, which is probably the coolest feature we’ve seen yet on a residential walk behind cordless mower. Most electric self- propelled mowers come with a predetermined speed that you can’t even change, so you’re either pushing the mower forward or it is pulling you along with it.
People of different builds and heights can all feel comfortable while using the Snapper XD StepSense series of mowers, since the mower itself adjusts according to what makes you feel the most comfortable. And on top of that, the StepSense models also have dynamic power adjustment similar to WORX’s IntelliCut so you get a nice boost in torque exactly when you need it (while cutting tall and thick grass). The motor uses only as much power as it needs to make a smooth cut, conserving battery life and increasing service life at the same time. StepSense models also include a slightly larger grass bag and can house two batteries in their powerhead instead of just one (which means twice the runtime).
Greenworks Pro 80V 21″ — Self-Propelled
Model : MO80L410 — One of the best mulching mowers if you want the convenience of a cordless model.
The power of gas with the convenience of cordless. Equivalent to the power of a 160cc gas mower.
“Thanks to a 5Ah 80V lithium ion battery, this cordless mower can keep running for up to 60 minutes while mulching up grass into fine pieces with its unique blade that is designed to work in 3 different modes- side discharge, bag, and mulch“
Ideal for: All season operation in small to medium sized yards (up to 0.25 acres), hills, and thick grass.
Part of the Greenworks “Pro” series of 80V lawn maintenance tools, the MO80L410 is a self- propelled cordless mower with rear wheel drive. What benefits are offered by rear wheel drive? First off, it is better suited to uphill climbs since all of the weight is transferred onto the rear axle which also happens to be the drive axle. That results in extra traction over the large 10” rear wheels when you’re pushing this mower up a slope/ hill. Rear wheel drive does have its disadvantages too. Like being less maneuverable around tight turns compared to a front wheel drive mower.
With a front wheel drive mower, you simply pull back on the handle and lift the front end off the ground. The free spinning rear wheels are super easy to turn. But with a RWD mower you can’t do that, instead you’ll have to drag it sideways or turn off the propulsion before making a turn which is super tedious.
The MO80L410 has a dynamic power adjustment function just like the Snapper XD and WORX WG774, so it conserves battery power during periods of reduced load and increases power when you’re cutting thicker grass. Like the other 2, this is also a 3-in-1 mower which means it can mulch, side- discharge, or bag. You can buy it without the battery and charger, as a tool- only unit if you already own Greenworks 80V garden tools (battery is interchangeable between all 80V tools like string trimmers and leaf blowers). If you don’t own any cordless 80V Greenworks tools, you have the option to buy a dual 2.0Ah kit, or a 4.0Ah kit (mower+ charger + battery + grass bag).
The MO80L410 gets ergonomics right, as all the important stuff is within reach of either thumb. Also, the handlebar is foam padded so you stay comfortable and maintain a solid grip while mowing. You can easily adjust mower speed on the fly, and monitor charge levels by pressing a button on the battery pack.
The ideal gas mower for small yards
“It isn’t self propelled, but can deliver better cutting performance than any of the much more expensive cordless electric mowers out there. What it lacks in term of features, it more than makes up for with solid build quality and efficient design.“
Ideal for: Yards under the size of 8000 sq. Ft, without any slopes.
Craftsman originated as the “premium” line of Sears tools, all the way back in 1927. It now makes tools for everyone from casual hobbyists to professionals working in commercial sectors. Craftsman lawnmowers in particular are considered some of the most well-made yet value for money products in the gardening world. The M105 is powered by a 140cc OHV 4- stroke engine which is super reliable and incredibly easy to start. All you have to do is pull the recoil starter cord, and that’s it. No more priming or choke adjustment needed, since it comes with an auto- choke preinstalled (Craftsman calls their auto choke ReadyStart).
Once you get it started, the raw cutting performance will handily beat any cordless or corded electric mower out there. The only downside is that you generate a lot more noise and some fumes, but hey- such is the cost of power. Oh, and you’ll also miss out on one important feature who’s existence you only remember when it’s time to finally clean that deck of your lawnmower. It’s called the washout port, and is used to fit a garden hose directly to the top of the deck so all the grass clippings and dirt get flushed out from the bottom. Most mowers intended for semi- serious usage are equipped with a washout port. Even the WORX WG774 which is a cordless electric mower, comes with a washout port. Flipping over your mower and cleaning the deck manually is just so much more time consuming, and takes the joy out of mowing. But if you’re okay with that, then the M105 is perfect for you.
It is the ideal size and weight for a small yard, and controls are fairly rudimentary. Engine on/ off controls are easy to access, and both the oil filler cap as well as gasoline cap are located conveniently towards the top of the engine with oversized features that are easy to grip even when you’re wearing gloves. Deck height can be adjusted with 2 levers, which give you access to 6 different preset modes between 1.25 and 3.75 inches. The mower can mulch, discharge, or bag. You get a 1.9 bushel grass bag. There is no option for vertical storage to save space, like almost every other modern cordless mower these days.
Easy to use, yet extremely powerful.
“This is the lawnmower we recommend for most homeowners who want a simple yet powerful mulching mower, it is self-propelled and even has electric start to make your life easier.“
Ideal for: Wet grass, roots, medium- sized lawns (under 0.25 acres) with a lot of landscaping work and obstacles such as flower beds, stone walls, or furniture.
Basically, an M105 with a larger engine and FWD self propulsion. Oh, and it also has electric start. This means you don’t have to frustrate yourself with multiple failed pulls of the starter cord on a cold morning. Auto choke is standard on all Craftsman gas mowers, so you just press a button, and the mower should fire right up. No more fiddling around with primer bulbs or choke settings, those are so 2012. And no, you don’t have to hook up an external power cord because the mower comes with a built-in battery and they also give you a charger to make sure that battery is always ready whenever you need to fire up your mower. But just in case you left your mower out in the cold on low charge and the electric start won’t work, you can always fall back on the good old recoil starter. It will probably not be an easy experience since even the commercial grade 4- stroke engine in this mower will have trouble starting up after being left out in the cold, but eventually it should fire up.
The front wheel drive is perfect for level ground since you don’t have to worry about lack of traction. However wet grass is a completely different story, because you will have to lean forward a bit in spaces where the grass is thick to get this mower moving. Remember, there isn’t a whole lot of weight on top of the front axle which means the mower will struggle in low traction situations like wet grass or uphill inclines.
A 21” deck is perfect for small to mid-sized lawns (anywhere from 2000 to 9500 sq. Ft). The mulching action on this mower is going to be a fair bit better compared to the smaller M105, because of the larger engine (159cc vs 140cc). More power equals faster spinning blades, and faster spinning blades give you finer mulch that decomposes faster and nourishes the soil better. Finer mulch also doesn’t form up in clumps on top of the grass layer, so your garden is going to look better.
Talking of the grass layer, you don’t want to cut the blades too short. Somewhere between 2.5” and 4” is the perfect spot for most turf grass. Plus, you shouldn’t cut off more than a third of the blade length while mowing. That’s where the height adjustment on this mower comes in handy because it allows you to choose the perfect cutting height based on the type of grass you have and the terrain type. There is a dual lever adjustment system which lets you choose from 6 different heights, just like the height adjustment on the M105. And thankfully, you get a washout port on the deck this time which makes the task of post mowing deck cleanup a lot easier.
Great choice for hilly terrain
“Real- wheel drive gives this lawnmower a traction advantage while climbing up hills, and it’s equipped with a very capable prosumer- grade 4 cycle engine from Kohler that comes with a 3- year Tru- Start commitment.“
Ideal for: Uneven lawns with hilly terrain, medium to large- sized lawns up to 0.5 acres.
If you ask any lawncare professional the question “who makes the best lawnmower engines?” they’ll say- Briggs & Stratton, Honda, and Kohler. Many budget brands charge customers a premium for including Kohler or Briggs & Stratton engines. There are often two versions of what is essentially the same mower, with the only difference being that the cheaper model uses a “standard” engine, while the other comes equipped with a Briggs & Stratton installed. Craftsman has done this very same thing.
Let’s get back to the Lawn-Boy 17732, you might be wondering “who are these guys?” Most newcomers only hear the big names like Craftsman, Husqvarna, Troy-Bilt, Black+ Decker, etc. But these big brands often own subsidiaries that act as the “budget” brand for the company, like how Snapper is owned by Briggs & Stratton.
Lawn Boy’s parent org is Toro, a famous American lawn equipment manufacturer. And their walk- behind mower model 17732 is one of the best deals you can get in the lawnmower market. It costs less than most 21” alternatives from bigger brands, yet it’s equipped with a Kohler XTX OHV engine pumping out 6.5 pound- feet of torque which is significantly more torque than what you get in the Craftsman M105 (5 pound feet) even though both engines have the exact same displacement (149cc). This additional torque doesn’t come at the cost of reliability, since Kohler is the gold standard alongside Briggs & Stratton when it comes to lawnmower engines.
Startups are effortless, and rarely take more than a single pull. Lawn Boy even offers a 3- year “Tru- Start” commitment in which they state that you’re allowed to return the mower if it doesn’t start within 2 pulls, and they will fix it for free. That is a sign of quality right there, a company that’s confident in its product. And why shouldn’t it be confident? Kohler engine, steel deck, a high quality blade- all the ingredients are there to create the ideal walk behind mulching mower.
And the best part is that all of this is available for a relatively affordable price even when you compare it to entry level 21” gas mowers. Even the grass bag offered alongside this mower is bigger than what the competition has, at 2 bushels. The variable speed rear wheel drive system gives you complete control over cutting pace, and it has no trouble finding grip on an incline which makes this a great mower for hills.
What is Mulch?
Mulch usually refers to a layer of organic or inorganic material applied to the top of the soil layer, in order to increase its fertility and reduce the growth of weeds. It is derived from the German word ‘Molsch’ which translates to something that is “soft and beginning to decay”. In the context of lawn care, mulching is a highly effective and environmentally friendly alternative to bagging your lawn clippings since it requires no extra work and doesn’t pollute the landfills.
According to the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), yard trimmings accounted for over 35 million metric tons of municipal solid waste in 2017. This includes grass, leaves, and brush trimmings from both commercial as well as residential sources. Yard trimmings alone constituted 13.1% of all municipal solid waste generated that year. While the majority of it is turned into compost, around 8.65 million metric tons of waste ended up in landfills. Raking up leaves into giant piles and squeezing them into bags will make your yard look cleaner, but it isn’t very healthy for the environment. Besides, mulching will make your soil more fertile. All your ornamental trees, flower beds, etc. will grow healthier and faster alongside the grass.
Organic mulches: Grass clippings, straw, hay, shredded bark, sawdust, woodchips, composted kitchen waste, etc.
Inorganic mulches: rubber, rock, gravel, plastic, etc.
What benefits does mulching provide to your lawn?
The first and most obvious benefit compared to a regular side discharge mower is the amount of time you’ll save. Some independent reviewers claim up to 60% quicker mowing times vs cutting your grass and collecting all the clippings afterwards. Even if you have a bagging mower, you’ll have to empty the box of clippings into an approved yard waste container/ bag which is then picked up by the municipality.
If you choose to go with the more environment-friendly route, you can turn the bagged clippings into compost. But that just adds an extra step of labor, and most homeowners living in urban areas simply don’t have the time. Instead, you can purchase a mulching lawn mower which will also double up as a compost generator. No more bagging, and you get free organic fertilizer for your yard. Let’s break down the major benefits of mulching:
Less chemical fertilizer required: With a mulching lawn mower, you can recycle grass clippings. Fine pieces of mulched grass decompose, assimilating into the topsoil layer. This provides all plants in your yard with key nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. According to a recent government study on yard wastes, the average half- acre lawn produces up to 4.5 tons of grass clippings each season. And these clippings contain as much as 55 kilos of nitrogen within them, which is entirely wasted if you send it to the landfill. With that much nitrogen, you could get just as good if not better results than any commercial fertilizer. And the best part is that you don’t “shock” your lawn with periodic doses of chemical fertilizers. Instead, it gets to maintain a steady natural diet consisting of all the essential resources such as iron, calcium, magnesium (although these are present in much smaller quantities than nitrogen).
You save time: It’s pretty much proven by now that bagging is a much more time- consuming (and less environment- friendly) process as opposed to mulching your grass. With a bagging lawnmower, you have to pause in the middle of work to empty the bag whenever it fills up. And let’s not forget having to deal with the pain of carrying all those bags of grass clippings over to the curb so the municipality can pick them up. Mulching lawnmowers are particularly effective on larger properties (0.5 acres and above) where you simply can’t operate a traditional bagging mower as you’d have to empty the bag dozens of times within a single mowing session.
No need to rake leaves: That’s right, you don’t have to waste your weekend mornings raking leaves in the backyard. Instead, pull out your mulching mower and get two jobs done at the same time. Since fallen leaves are already dried, they decompose into manure much faster once you break them down into tiny chunks that sink between the blades of grass. Make sure to mulch the leaves right when you see the tips of grass blades poking through the carpet of leaves. Don’t wait too long, otherwise the leaves will smother and kill the grass underneath them.
It prevents weed growth: A lot of professional gardeners and homeowners claim that mulching protects your lawn from unwanted plants, aka weeds. The theory behind it is that mulching creates an insulating layer on the surface of your lawn’s soil, preventing weed seeds from germinating since they can’t get any sunlight. This is especially useful in areas where the weeds can’t be accessed easily like vegetable and flower gardens, as well as the underside of bushes. In such situations you’d much rather prevent weeds from growing in the first place, instead of taking a string trimmer to sensitive parts of your lawn.
Moisture retention: This is one of the biggest benefits of mulching and it really shows its merit during the summer season, when you want to reduce evaporation from the soil. Grass and leaf clippings left behind by your mower will absorb moisture, and they also protect the soil from direct sunlight exposure. Not only does this help your plants, but also the water bill.
Less soil erosion: Mulch also protects your lawn soil from getting washed away during the rainy season. The mulch layer acts as a barrier against rainfall, lessening the impact of water as it hits the ground. It also helps pack the soil more tightly, preventing erosion.
Gives your garden a “fuller” look: Not everyone has a lush green lawn resembling a gold course, with thick and even grass cover all over the place. Sometimes you have ugly bald patches in between clumps of grass, much like the head of a middle aged man struggling with hair loss. That’s where mulching can help you- it acts as a filler in the empty spaces, and barely requires any maintenance.
Misconceptions About Mulching
A lot of people who are new to lawn maintenance have the wrong idea about mulching. They read posts on online forums and blogs about how mulching promotes fungal growth and thatching, from people who don’t follow appropriate maintenance procedures and blame the issue on mulch instead of researching the underlying reasons behind thatching or moss buildup. We want to set the record straight on mulching, and what it actually does for your lawn. Is it perfect? Of course not, there are occasions when you’re better off bagging your clippings. Mulching isn’t for every lawn type, which is something we are going to cover in the next section of the article. But first, let’s understand what thatching means-
Thatching: It’s the accumulation of lawn thatch- a layer of dead but undecomposed turfgrass tissue lying between the green vegetation of the grass above, and the root system in the soil below. It is mainly composed of stolons, rhizomes, and roots which haven’t been broken down by microbes and insects (like earthworms). Unlike grass blades, these parts of the grass plant don’t decompose easily. When this thatch layer becomes too thick, it blocks sunlight, air, water, and vital nutrients from seeping down into the soil to be absorbed by the root system later. A thick layer of undecomposed grass tissue will also act as a hotbed of insect infestations, many of these insects bring with them diseases that will kill your otherwise healthy grass.
I have to cut more often with my mulching mower :
No, you don’t have to cut more frequently with a mulching mower. Ideally, you want to cut the grass once a couple of weeks and always remember- don’t shave it. Follow the 1/3rd rule, if you have really long grass don’t slice away 70 percent of the blade at once. Take it down bit by bit, never cutting more than 1/3rds of the blade length at a time and allowing at least a week between cuts. This rule applies irrespective of the mower type you use, whether it be a walk behind mower, riding mower, reel mower, etc. Grass is like any other plant, it manufacturers food by the process of photosynthesis. And photosynthesis takes place in the blade where sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide are combined in a chemical reaction that produces glucose. The longer the grass blade, the more food reserves it has. The more food reserves your lawn grass has, the better it will be at fighting off diseases, harsh weather, and pests.
Mulching can result in thatch and moss :
Not true! Mulching isn’t the cause of thatch or moss buildup within a lawn. Thatching is the result of a variety of factors including, but not limited to- too much water, too much chemical fertilizer, super aggressive mowing, etc. A lot of people mow their lawns too short, hoping that they won’t have to mow as often. What this does is kill the grass blades, by depleting their energy reserves in a short amount of time. If you consistently scalp your grass, it will leave brown spots and bare patches since the grass doesn’t have enough time to recover. And the grass also becomes more vulnerable to weed invasion, since there is no protective canopy of grass blades preventing sunlight from reaching the weeds underneath.
Mowing your grass improperly, like with dull mower blades will cause it to grow laterally instead of vertically. This will introduce a layer of stems, stolons, roots, and other partially decomposed organic matter (thatch) on top of the grass canopy. Mulch is composed of tiny grass clippings that break down really fast, they don’t stick around to form a layer of thatch. And it certainly doesn’t cloud over the actual grass layer. Mulch always settles between the grass blades allowing for proper exposure to sunlight, water, and fertilizer (mulch itself is a highly effective organic fertilizer).
Let’s talk about moss- it is a spore that flourishes in poor soil conditions, namely soil that is damp with low levels of nutrients and very little exposure to sunlight. You might think “well mulch retains moisture and cuts off sunlight to whatever’s underneath, so isn’t it the perfect breeding ground for moss?” Actually, no because mulch contains nitrate and potash- two compounds that inhibit the growth of most moss species. Another thing to remember is that mulch promotes the growth of earthworms, these tiny critters are incredibly useful when it comes to aerating your lawn soil and their droppings act as additional fertilizer for grass. Moss doesn’t tend to grow in well- aerated soil. It prefers compacted, damp soil with low mineral contents.
Pro tip: Always mow with sharp blades to get clean edges on the grass blades, this ensures lower chances of the grass becoming diseased and it also helps individual blades grow vertically instead of horizontally. Never cut off more than 1/3rd of the grass blade in a single mowing session if you want to keep your grass healthy and green. The minimum mowing height for most turf grasses is 2.5 to 3 inches.
When SHOULDN’T you mulch your grass?
There are two situations in which you don’t want to mulch your grass-
- Either you have a mower that isn’t designed for the job, or
- there are specific conditions in your lawn which make mulching an unwise choice (soil quality, grass type and height, weather, etc.)
What do we mean by a mower that isn’t designed for the job? Well, mulching requires the formation of super tiny grass clippings- typically under a quarter of an inch in length. Most people have lower end or midrange walk- behind mowers which just don’t have the engine power or blade type necessary for this kind of task. You can outfit your mower with a mulching blade, which is going to improve mulching performance significantly. But the engine power has to be there, because a standard mower only cuts the grass once whereas a “proper” mulching mower slices it up into tiny bits after repeated cuts. This increases resistance on the bearings and shaft, which is another reason mulching mowers tend to have sturdier drive shafts and more powerful engines (on top of the specialized mulching blades).
Now, let’s talk about the specific lawn conditions that dictate whether you should mulch or not. Let’s say you already have a pretty substantial thatch layer consisting of semi-decomposed grass tissue. You don’t want to overload it with even more thatch, especially during the winter season where decaying takes longer due to lower temperatures and drier air. We already talked about the issues caused by excessive thatching, so you want to avoid that. Another problem with mulching is all the tiny bits of grass clippings which stick to your shoes or bare feet, especially if it is wet outside.
Your kids and pets will leave a trail of grass clippings all over the house if you aren’t careful. You also don’t want to mulch if there’s a worm epidemic in your lawn, since the free food will only make things worse and fill up your lawn with even more worm castings (and moles, you might want to consider those as well). And finally, not everyone likes the look of grass clumps lying around in their lawn. Many folks prefer a cleaner look, one that is provided by bagging your grass clippings.
Are there any design differences between a standard mower and mulching mower?
Yes, more than a few in fact. Firstly, mulching blades are different from standard blades found on your average push mower. Unlike a standard lawnmower blade which is straight, a mulching blade has a curved design which recirculates the air flow within the deck so that the clippings repeatedly fly across the cutting path. A mulching blade has multiple cutting surfaces along its entire length, whereas standard high- lift mower blades only cut at the ends of the blade.
In addition, the decks on mulching mowers are deeper and more dome-like compared to standard lawnmower decks. This gives grass clippings more room to fly around the blade, and more airtime equals finer mulch. The whole goal of a mulching mower is to cut grass blades as many times as possible to transform them into tiny pieces that decompose easily, in essence it is both trimming your lawn and creating compost at the same time. Engines on dedicated mulching mowers are larger, and generate more power to spin the blades faster. Bearings and drive shafts are also engineered to have a higher service life despite encountering more resistance.
You will find regular lawn mowers that are available with separate “mulching kits” that might add a new blade or even an entirely new deck. If you ask us, the real thing is way better. A dedicated mulching mower will produce finer thatch than a standard mower with a mulching kit installed. Some dedicated mulching mowers even have an additional blade installed underneath the main blade to further assist with mulch generation.
Note: Because a mulching mower is designed to keep the grass clippings flying around within the deck for as long as possible, it isn’t very good at discharging large amounts of grass from the side. You can find mulching mowers with adjustable baffles that allow for side-discharge or bagging (3-in-1 operation), but these tend to lag behind regular side-discharge or bagging models in terms of speed since they can get “choked” with grass clippings if you take things too fast in non- mulching modes. Remember — despite being multi- functional, the deck on these mowers is still optimized for delayed processing of grass clippings rather than spitting out the grass after just one cut.
What kind of oil to use in a mower?
The safest choice is to go with the exact same oil that your manufacturer recommends in their owner’s manual for your specific mower model. If you aren’t sure or the manufacture hasn’t provided any clear instructions on which oil to use, SAE 30 motor oil is commonly recommended for small 4 stroke engines running in warm weather(some manufacturers also recommend 10W-30 or 10W-40 for all- weather operation). That is if you have a newer mulching mower model which is equipped with a 4- stroke engine. Older mowers run 2- stroke motors which are louder, less fuel efficient, and require you to mix in the engine oil with the gasoline.
Never mix the gas and oil together if your mower has a 4 cycle engine, you could easily cause the engine to seize up. Find out what type of engine your mower has, how often you should change the oil, which oil type to use, etc. via the official website or manual. Electric and cordless lawn mowers will require much less frequent oil changes, since the lubrication needs of an electric motor are very different from that of a gasoline internal combustion engine.
Important: Always check oil levels before starting your lawnmower engine, this can be done by removing and visually inspecting the dipstick. You will also need to make periodic spark plug changes and clean the air filter if it’s a gas mower.
Lawn mower storage
Your lawn mower keeps the garden nice and tidy, so it’s only natural that you should care for the lawnmower’s health too. Especially during winter season, which can prove to be an inconvenience for both battery powered as well as gas mowers. Corded mowers don’t care about weather, they just need an outlet to plug into (and some occasional hosing down of the deck to clear all grass clippings). But gas engines tend have to issues with starting in cold weather, since oil thickens and clogs up the engine. Even batteries don’t function normally in really low temperatures.
For example, the lithium ion batteries used in outdoor power tools don’t charge at their regular rate if it’s too cold, and the lifespan of each individual cell within the battery is shortened by prolonged exposure to cold weather. Batteries are expensive to replace, so you want to store these indoors. But what about the mower itself, you may not have enough space in the garage.
Maybe, you have a larger gas lawnmower that needs a shed of its own. Well, we’ve got just the thing for you- the Suncast 6′ x 3′ Cascade Storage Shed is a perfect place to stow away all your gardening tools, including the lawn mower. Protection from rain, extreme cold, and dust is important to ensure that your mower has a long lifespan. Steel decks on mowers are vulnerable to rust over time, which is why you need an enclosure which is moisture resistant.
The Cascade Storage Shed is built with multiple layers of propylene resin panels that are both tough and impregnable to moisture. It is also tall enough to accommodate your long- handled gardening tools like rakes, shovels, forks, scythes, etc. If you don’t have enough garage space, invest in a proper storage system for your lawnmower that protects it from the weather. Even regular sunlight can harm the paint on a lawnmower, since UV rays will oxidize paint and give it a faded look that makes the mower seem much older than it really is. This can damage resell value if you ever decide to upgrade or get rid of your lawn mower in the future.