Lawn mower blades are not universally compatible with different lawn mower brands, so you can only install blades that will fit your mower. If you use the wrong blade, you will most likely cause damage to both your mower and your lawn.
In this article we will break down what different types of mower blades there are, and what they’re used for, how to change a mower blade, and why you shouldn’t use the wrong type of blade.
What different types of lawn mower blades are there?
There are five main types of mower blades, and all have a specific niche purpose for different cutting scenarios.
- Standard blade. These blades are slightly curved and have medium lift, which makes them unsuitable for bagging.
- Low-lift blade. These blades are less curved than the standard blade, providing little upward force to propel the grass out of the chute.
- High-lift blade. High-lift blades have upward sloping curves which produce higher suction than other blade types, propelling grass out of the chute. Ideal for bagging.
- Mulching blade. Also known as 3-in-1 blades, these keep the grass clippings in the deck longer than other models, cutting them several times.
- Toothed or gator blade. These work similarly to mulching blades, but don’t have an extended cutting edge. They also have upward facing teeth that provide lift to the grass clippings.
Which lawn mower blade should I use?
Like most simple questions, this one has a complicated answer. In short, it depends on the situation. Mower blade manufacturers USA mower blades recommend the following uses for each blade type:
- Standard blades allow bagging while retaining some durability. Bagging is preferred when a clean lawn aesthetic is desired, as there will be less grass clippings deposited on your lawn compared to other blades.
- Low-lift blades are ideal for sandy or dusty soils. Since they have low suction, they will not spray large amounts of dust in the air when mowing grass in these types of soil. This extends the life of the blade, mower and possibly even the person operating it, since they won’t be breathing in excess dust.
- High-lift blades should be used when bagging the grass clippings is the priority, particularly on lawns that are not mowed regularly.
- Toothed or gator blades. These are a great all-round blade that has good lift and mulching capabilities. Think of a gator blade as a “jack of all trades, master of none” type of blade.
- Mulching blades are best for grass that is cut every three to four days. If you use a mulching blade to cut overgrown grass, expect the deck to become clogged and clumps of grass to litter your lawn.
How do I know what type of mower blade I have?
If you have the manual the mower came with, you can find the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) number for the blade. Use your search engine of choice and the manufacturer’s name and you can easily find out what type of blade you have.
If you’ve misplaced the manual, don’t worry as most modern mower equipment manufacturers have a website with a digital manual. Simply use your mower model number to look up which blades it uses.
What happens if you put the wrong blade on a lawn mower?
If you try to install a blade into your mower that it is incompatible with, the results won’t be pretty. At best, you’ll be looking at a blade which doesn’t cut effectively, while in the worst case you could be trying to dodge a mower blade flying at high speed. Not a good look.
How do you change a lawn mower blade?
Changing a mower blade is relatively straightforward, but here are a few useful tips to make your life easier.
- Remove the spark plug. Safety first.
- Drain the fuel. Who wants mower fuel dripping on their clothes?
- Turn the mower on its side and unscrew the center hole nut from the bolt.
- Remove the blade, and install the new one. Ensure that the cutting edge is facing the direction of rotation. Most blades have an engraving indicating which is the proper direction.
- Fasten the nut again tightly with a wrench.
Do ride on mowers use different blades to walk-behind mowers?
Generally, ride on mowers have the same basic blade types as walk-behind mowers, although you shouldn’t expect them to be interchangeable because they have different measurements. The type of blade you should use on a ride on mower also depends on the type of mowing you’re doing.
Mulching blades are the most practical blades to use on a ride on mower, because they’re usually used to cover large lawns. If you use the high lift, bag-type blades, you’ll be emptying that bag constantly.
Can I use a mower blade from a different brand?
While it’s possible to use a mower blade from another brand, it’s not recommended. You’ll have to match the blade length, and more importantly the center hole shape and size to your mower.
If you can’t tighten the center hole nut and bolt, your mower can become a deadly blade launching machine that can cause massive damage. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Which mower blade lasts the longest?
Generally, low lift blades last longer than their higher lift counterparts. This is because they produce comparatively lower suction due to their design. Lower suction results in less debris coming in contact with the blade, extending its lifetime.
Additionally, low lift blades are usually smaller than other mower blades, and therefore exert less strain on the mower. This means that you may get more mowing hours out of your mower in the long term by using low lift blades.
How long do different mower blade types last?
Low lift blades can last up to 200 hours, while higher lift blades typically last closer to 100 hours. Of course, this depends on how the blades are used (or abused), and whether they are sharpened often and correctly.
Hi, I’m John Stephens, chief editor and writer for Totalgardener.com. I’ve been gardening and raising animals for over 15 years starting with a small backyard plot in Northern Virginia where I grew corn, potatoes, squash, and using a high mulch technique called the Ruth Stout Method. I also raised ducks and small mammals for meat and eggs in a movable pen similar to the ones used by Joel Salatin. I later moved to Colorado where I experimented with growing greens using aquaponics inside. I eventually added a microgreens setup and home sprouting operation. I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned plus more from the other local gardening and animal raising experts I know.