What Is the Difference Between a Mulching Mower and a Regular Mower? (Solved & Explained!)

There are a few differences between a regular mower and a mulcher, but from an operational perspective the answer is that a regular mower is good for side discharge and for bagging, while a mulching mower is good for side discharge, bagging, and mulching as well. Think of it like this – a standard mower is a 2-in-1 mower, while a mulching mower is a 3-in-1 mower.

In this article we’ll answer more questions about mulching, mulching blades, and their care and maintenance for getting the most work hours out of your investment. Let’s take a look at the most commonly asked questions!

Is a mulching lawn mower better?

A mulching mower is actually a very good idea. You can convert most current mowers with a mulching conversion kit and you won’t lose any functionality, you’ll just gain the ability to mulch with your mower. Bagging and side discharge can still be don’t, if you like, as the mulching blade are compatible with these functions.

Can any lawn mower be a mulching lawn mower?

Just about any mower can be converted. Check first with your manufacturer to see if they have any mulching conversion kits that are specific to your make and model, but if you don’t find one then be sure to check around. Many 3rd party kits are compatible and they will list your model as being a candidate for their kit.

Is a mulching lawn mower worth it?

Definitely. Mulching means less work for you, as you may simply leave the clippings in the grass, and it also means better health for your yard. As the finely chopped clipping decay, they produce nutrients for your lawn that will make the grass grow fuller and more vibrant. You’ll definitely notice the difference!

When should you use a mulching mower?

The best time to use your mulching mower is when the grass is decently managed and you will only be cutting off the top 1/3. If it is overgrown, then mulching is not ideal yet. Seasons are important, too.

You don’t want to mulch in winter or in the summer, and in spring you’ll want to wait until it warms up a little, as mulching doesn’t help when it’s cold.

Can you convert a regular mower into a mulching mower?

Conversion kits are easy to find and will be compatible with most makes and models of mowers. They typically consist of a ‘mulch plate’ which will help to control the flow of the clipped grass, as well as specialized mulching blades which have some slight curvature and extra sections of cutting edges for finer-quality cutting.

Can you mulch with regular blades?

You could, but you are looking at a lot of extra work. You could rake all of the clippings into piles, and then run over them multiples times with your mower, but even then, not all of it will convert into mulch!

Afterwards, you still have to distribute it across the yard – it’s a lot of work and an inexpensive mulching kit can do it right with one pass.

What makes a mower a mulcher?

Mulching mowers will typically have a domed deck that helps to control the flow of grass clippings, so that the specialized mulching blades can do their job of cutting them into smaller and smaller pieces. The blades will typically have a noticeable curve to them when compared to standard blades, making them easy to identify.

Can I use mulching blades with side discharge?

Yes! If you like to do bagging or side discharge, you might want to consider a Gator mulching blade. Standard mulching blades are great as mulching, but they don’t circulate the air as efficiently, which can lead to the bag showing as full when it’s only 2/3 of the way. Gator blades are specifically designed to compensate for this and perform side discharge and bagging efficiently.

Is mulching better than side-discharge?

You can do fertilize a yard with side discharge, provided that after you mow a strip, you immediately turn around so that the side discharge is always directed to cover the area which you’ve just mowed. That said, mulching looks nicer, as the pieces are smaller, and you can mow however you like – the mulched pieces will be distributed as you mow.

How do I know if I have a mulching blade?

Look at the blade and see if it has a slight curve and most often the cutting edge with be 3 – 4 inches long, often with different edges designed for a more efficient cut. The only exception that we are aware of is John Deere mulching blades, which look rectangular, with one side of the rectangle being smaller and with a star-shaped hole for installation.

Do you sharpen mulching blades?

Yes. Mulching blades do need to be regular sharpened, perhaps even more so than other types of blades. This is because they do a lot of extra cutting in order to turn all of that cut grass quickly into mulch.

You can bring them in for a professional sharpening or you can do it yourself at home, just keep in mind you will need a few different types of files to accommodate the multiple edges.

How often should you sharpen mulching blades?

Mulching blades should be sharpened every 20 to 25 hours of use. If you are using them to provide yard service commercially, then you should sharpen them more frequently – at least once a week. This will help to ensure that they are always at their best until the time comes for their yearly recommended replacement.

How do you balance mulching blades?

In order to balance your mulching blades, you’ll want to secure them firmly in a vise with the thickest metal side accessible so that you can get at it with an angle grinder. Balancing is important and should be done every time that you sharpen the blades, otherwise your mower will vibrate more and the blades will cut inefficiently – greatly reducing their work life.