Is a Mulching Blade Better? (Solved & Explained!)

Mulching blades are considered 3-in-1 blades, in that they will work with side discharge, bagging, and mulching. Standard mower blades, by contrast, are 2-in-1 blades, in that they are designed for bagging and side discharge only. Mulching blades do provide slightly less efficient air circulation, but if you purchase specialized blades such as Gator blades then you won’t suffer from this problem.  

For the remaining space of this article, we’re going to answer the most popular questions when it comes to mulching blades in regards to their proper use, maintenance, and functionality. Let’s take a look at the facts that you need to know before you purchase a mulching kit of your own!

What is the benefit of mulching blades?

Mulching blades have a number of benefits to them. They are curved and have additional cutting edges, which allow them to take regular grass clippings and to cut them into smaller and smaller pieces, after which they are released into the lawn as you mow to fertilize your newly-cut grass. Bagging and side discharge may still be done, but with mulching blades you have the additional option of mulching.

Are mulching blades worth it for leaves?

Yes. Mulching blade work wonderfully with leaves. The additional cutting edges and teeth of the blades will make short work of a leaf pile and save you quite a lot of time, converting that pile of unsightly leaves into tiny fragments that will now fertilize your lawn.  

Do you need mulching blades to mulch?

With the exception of Zero turn mowers, which move the blade tips fast enough to remove the need for specialized blades, mulching blades will be required if you want to mulch efficiently. Mulching blades work in conjunction with a plate which suspends the cuttings from leaving the mower until they have been chopped into smaller, useful pieces. After this, they are distributed on your lawn – all as you mow!

How long do mulching blades last?

That will depend on the blade, but with regular cleaning and maintenance you can expect anywhere from 100 to 200 working hours before your blades will need replacement. Some vendors, such as Gator blades, do provide higher-end mulching blades with stronger metals, and these may last up to 400 hours of work us.

Which is better mulching blade or high lift?

It is not really a comparison, as they both have different functions. Mulching blades sit low, generally about 3 inches above the ground, and are designed for cutting off the top 1/3 of the grass and turning the clippings into useful fertilizer for your lawn.

High lift blades sit higher and are designed to have improved air circulation so that you can effectively cut taller weeds and grasses without stalling your mower – they are unsuitable for mulching, just as mulching blades are unsuitable for high weed and grass patches.

Are mulching blades better for bagging?

Standard mulching blades are less efficient for bagging, sometimes resulting in the bag not fully filling as intended. Specialized blades such as Gator blades compensate for this with a more aerodynamic design, capable of circulating air at or above the efficiency of a standard mower blade, so if you use side discharge and bagging a lot then a specialized mulching blade such as Gator provides is best.

Can I use mulching blades with side discharge?

Yes, but you want to use Gator blades instead of standard mulching blades. Standard mulching blades push down on your grass, while Gators are designed to lift up on them. The increased circulation from the Gator blades will make for more efficient side discharge than you would get with standard blades.

Are mulching blades louder?

Mulching blades are louder than standard blades. The process of drawing in the grass, keeping it there, and grinding it to useful bits for fertilizer is a more involved process than simply trimming the grass. As such, a mulching kit upgrade will make your mower a little bit louder but this is to be expected.

Are mulching blades dull?

Mulching blades actually come from the factory quite sharp and you’ll need to maintain the cutting edges if you want them to perform properly. Every 20 to 25 hours of work use should be followed by cleaning the blades, mounting them in a vise, and sharpening the working edges.

The teeth will not need to be sharpened, however, so after the cutting edges are done you may install the blades back into the mower.

Can you sharpen mulching blades?

Yes. You can and should sharpen mulching blades every 20 to 25 hours of use. It is easier to do if you have a few different sizes of files or you might also employ an angle grinder. Just be sure that after you sharpen your mulching blade that you check the balance and correct it as needed for best results.

How sharp should a mulching blade be?

You want your mulching blades to be sharp, but never sharpen them to razor sharpness. This thins the blades too much and may result in them dulling more quickly or even becoming damaged during normal use. Try to attain the same sharpness that the blades came with new and ideally they should not be sharper than a butter knife for best performance.

Do I need to sharpen new mulching blades?

No, you shouldn’t have to sharpen new mulching blades, as the manufacturer has already ground them to the proper degree of sharpness. You SHOULD use your finger to check the edge and this is perfectly safe – it won’t be sharp enough to cut you. Note the current edge and after 20 to 25 hours of use you should sharpen the blades to the previous level of sharpness.

What height should a mower be when mulching leaves?

For best results, you’ll want to set your mower to a height of 3 inches before you attempt to mulch the leaves. This setting should be perfect and you’ll end up with the leaves being shredded down to the size of dimes or even smaller!

Can you use mulching blades with a bagger for leaves?

 Yes, you can, but there is a caveat. Due to the standard mulching blades design, there is a loss of performance when it comes to air circulation. This may result in the bag not fully filling. You can work around this by employing Gator blades or other mulching blades which have been designed to have improved airflow with use.