When most people think of mowing the lawn it’s with the intention of cutting, and by definition removing the grass. This is usually with the aid of a grass collection box or bag mounted to the back of the lawn mower which can be removed and emptied onto a compost heap or into a bin for collection by the local authority. There is however an alternative to this approach, and it comes with several advantages over simply discarding the cut grass.
What is Mulching?
Mulching is essentially the practice of returning the cut grass back onto the lawn immediately as it is cut. This can be achieved crudely with any mower simply by removing the grass collection container, however this will obviously result in large clumps of long grass covering the lawn which won’t look too pretty and will take some time to break down. A specialized mulching mower or mulching attachment takes care of this issue by dicing the grass into much finer pieces so that when it is discarded it is concealed within the lawn.
What are the advantages of Mulching?
Mulching grass rather than discarding it boasts several clear advantages:
- As the grass is discarded you don’t need to worry about having to make stops during your mowing session to empty the grass from the mower. This amounts to at least a third less time than would normally be spent mowing.
- Mulching allows you to cut and fertilize the grass in one operation. The discarded clippings will decompose and redistribute nutrients back into the soil which in turn feeds the grass.
- Mulching creates a healthy lawn fueled by nutrients from the grass itself
- Contrary to what you might think, mulching actually reduces the build up of thatch by creating a healthy ecosystem. Problematic thatch is much more likely to arise as a result of shoddy lawn care such as over watering or over fertilization that can make the grass grow at an abnormal rate
So with the aid of a proper mulching mower or mulching ‘plug’ attachment, a great looking, healthy lawn can be achieved.
What Makes a Good Mulching Lawn Mower?
We know that the name of the game when producing mulch is to produce a finely diced compost at the same time as cutting the lawn, therefore a lawn mower that has the ability to chop the grass in this manner is going to be the best option. The underside of the deck on a good mulching lawn mower will be designed such that once the grass is cut it continues to spin within the vortex of air created by the specially designed cutting blade, thus giving the blade several opportunities to keep on cutting in much the same way as a blender or food processor. Once the grass is sufficiently diced it will be forced downwards onto the lawn where it can easily decompose and return nutrients back to the lawn.
It’s important to note that a dedicated mulching mower will perform better than mowers that both collect and mulch, or have a mulch ‘plug’ attachment. This is because the mechanism by which a collecting mower and mulching mower work are totally different, and therefore one that claims to be able to do both will be making a compromise somewhere along the line. If you want a truly effective mulching process, then a dedicated mulching mower is the best way to go.
The Best Mulching Lawn Mowers
Makita PLM5121 Mulching Lawn Mower
Makita do serious tools, not cheap tools, but certainly ones that are built to last. They don’t concern themselves with gimmicks, just good solid reliable machines that get the job done.
This is a proper mulcher, and it doesn’t claim to be anything else. As mentioned above, mulching will shave about third of the time out of your mowing routine, no problem, and with a monstous 51cm cutting width this mower will literally mow down everything in it’s path until you wish to stop. Naturally you won’t be stopping to empty any grass collection bag either so you’ll probably find it’s even quicker than expected.
With a Briggs and Stratton engine on board you know that you’ve got a reliable powerhouse backing up Makita’s solid mower design, and the four large bearing driven wheels will ensure you get good smooth traction even on slippy grass.
It’s pretty much no frills from there really, meaning there isn’t a lot to worry about going wrong! Though of course you’ll need to carry out all the same maintenance checks and tasks as you would with any other petrol driven lawn mower, but that’s to be expected.
The handlebar grip is primitive, but still padded with foam and features an ambidextrous dead mans lever to suit all tastes.
Lawnflite MTD Smart 53MSPB Mulching Lawn Mower
Mulching lawn mowers are trditionally more expensive than their collecting counterparts, possibly because they offer such an attractive feature – never having to dispense of cut grass again is certainly a favourable proposition! The great thing with the 53MSPB is that it comes with a more affordable price tag than other mulching mowers, whilst not compromising on quality.
In fact this mower has an even more monstrous 53cm cutting width, so again you’ll be getting the job done in no time at all, and what’s driving this ensemble? Yep, you guessed it, it’s a Briggs and Stratton, so zero concerns on the engine front. In fact the engine will also self propell this beast (a good job too at 34kg) so you don’t have to worry about taking the strain.
The only minor drawback of this mower is it’s more primitive handlebar design, it could do with at least some padding to take the edge off the vibration, so that’s worth taking into consideration.