If you are mulching for the first time then there is a lot of information about the practice that can be really confusing. Mulching blades come in varieties and the key is to understand them before engaging in mulching. You will hear things like “3-in-1” or “high-lift”.
Standard mowing blades will have designations like “2-in-1” which means you can use them effectively for cutting grass and then discharging the grass clippings from the mowing deck back to the lawn. This is done through a vacuum kind of system that creates a higher airflow to capture the clippings. These blades are also called high lift blades.
A closer observation of the mulching blades will reveal that they are curved with inclusion of extra cutting surfaces on the blade edges. Other blades have a plus design which is when two individual blades are arranged in a perpendicular fashion to boost mulching.
The mulching blades are also referred to as 3-in-1 blades. This means they do mulching, bagging and discharging. The problem with the 3-in-1 blades is that the re-circulating of airflow may make them less efficient at discharging grass clippings than the 2-in-1 blade. If you are not getting the desired cutting or the discharging is not as you expected you may want to switch from the all purpose blades to the 2-in-1 blade.
Mulching kits generally consist of a mulching plug and blades. The mulching plug is essential for closing off the discharge opening so as to contain the clippings that are under deck.
Mulching blades have the benefit of cutting the grass and pushing the clippings into the deck where they are cut multiple times until they are smaller. This are then pushed back to the ground and act as mulch.
Why use mulching blades?
If you are going to be moving your lawn up to 2 to three times a week then you need to eliminate the stress that comes with emptying your catch bag all the time. The mulch from the cut grass acts as fertilizer for your grass as it is rich in water and nitrogen. In fact, when done right, you should be able to supplement up to a quarter of the needed nitrogen for your soil.
Mulching blades are used in conjunction with the mulching mower. When moving start with the top left corner of the garden then progress to the bottom left corner. After sometime, start changing direction by turning left and then change direction again towards the bottom right corner.
So, can you use a mulching blade without a mulching kit?
The answer is Yes. The mulching kit consists of a set of accessories that you can use on your lawnmower that enables it to work as a mulching one. In most cases, you will find in the kit items like mulching baffles, restriction plates, mulching blades, defectors, and decals. You will also find instructions on how to use the items. Depending on the type of mower you are using you may realize that the mulching blade is enough to do the mulching.
When purchasing a lawnmower it is critical that you get your dimensions right as this will determine the kind of mulching blade you get. If your kit has a restriction plate, place this at the rear chute. The purpose of the restriction chute is to deflect and block any grass clippings from discharged through the chute. The overall purpose for this to allow the cut grass to remain under the deck so that they can be cut further. Restriction plates are harder to use unlike the mulching blades as they are not universal. You have to get one that clearly fits your mower. This means you have to get a mulching kit that suits your mower brand.
It is also possible to put any mulching blade on a variety of mowers. However, ensure the blade fits properly in the deck and secured tightly before commencing operations. Also, know that not all mulching blades perform as expected due to poor mower deck design and engine power.
Turning normal lawnmower into a mulching mower
The other question many who own lawns ask, is whether it is possible to use their lawnmower for mulching? The answer is it will not be that effective. Standard blades are very different from the ones used for mulching. Since mulching is an inexpensive way to fertilize your grounds many people are switching to mulching mowers.
If you have a standard lawnmower, you do not necessarily need to purchase a new mower. The first thing is change the blades to the ones suitable for mulching. The standard mower has 2-in1 blades which are ideal for bagging and side discharging. This is ideal for dealing with most lawns.
The main purpose of a mulching blade is to cut the grass multiple times. This is done by ensuring there is constant airflow in the decks that keeps the cut grass longer hence allowing it to be cut into multiple pieces. The deck for a mulching mower is also different as it is circular with not edges where grass can get stuck. Since there is not discharge chute the mowers rarely come with a rear bag.
To turn you regular mower into a mulching one the first thing you need to do is change the blade then add a restriction blade. In some instances, you can decide to block the chute and this can give you some mulching results without necessary purchasing a new mulching blade. The design of your mower varies so the solutions may be different from one machine to another.
The next thing you need to put into consideration is that not all mowers are suitable for mulching. This is due to their engine power. Mulching is an intensive exercise that puts a lot of strain on the engine and you therefore need something more powerful. At the very least, look for a lawnmower with five or more horsepower. Anything less and you are going to be struggling achieving the required torque for mulching.
There are various types of mulching blades like the typical standard mulching blades that comes with a distinctive curved design. This works well for creating the necessary suction to draw in the cut grass for further cutting. However, they are not that good for side discharging and bagging. The Gatar (toothed) blades, are considered to be 3-in-1 blades. This means they are ideal for side discharging, bagging, and mulching. There uniqueness lies in their raised teeth behind the cutting edge of the blades. The purpose of the teeth is to create superior suction. This allows you to have more cut grass in the deck and the sharp edges of the blade keep cutting the grass. The end result, is you get finer cut grass with the gatar blades.
When you are identifying the right blade for your mower you will need to first get the length of the blade right. To do this take the diagonal measurements from one cutting edge to another. Next, get the measurements for the center hole. Most of the center holes can either be 5,6,7 point stars or the H pattern. Once you get the measurements right it is now easier to get the right mulching blade.
Mulching is cheaper way to fertilize your lawn by re-using grass cuttings. However, not all lawnmowers are capable of mulching and you may need to make adjustments to your existing mower by purchasing a mulching kit.