The first lawn mowers didn’t actually have grass collection bags, they simply redistributed the cuttings over the lawn. Although most of today’s lawn mowers include a bag to collect clippings, it’s not always the best idea. It can actually be a beneficial to recycle the grass clippings and feed natural nutrients back to your lawn. This is where mulching mowers come in. So, are mulching mowers any good?
What is a Mulching Mower?
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The term ‘mulching mower’ is actually pretty confusing – because there is not really any mulching that happens. Mulching is when you put stuff, usually compost or manure, on top of the soil to prevent weeds and retain moisture.
This is fantastic for the soil, helping earthworms and creating fertile land for the next round of crops, but this would not be good for lawns, leaving them with no sunlight to grow!
What mulching mowers do is rotate the grass around the blades several times, meaning that what finally drops on your lawn is a fine, powdery nutrient rich substance made of your grass clippings that contains around 10 percent nitrogen that your lawn will love.
Experts, like myself (!) suggest that by returning these perfect nitrogen-level clippings to your lawn, you can greatly reduce the amount of food the lawn needs, and help keep it healthy.
That’s at the heart of it, but here are a few more details to help you decide whether a mulching mower will work for you.
Why you Should use a Mulching Mower
A Natural Fertiliser
If you do it right, then mulching will nourish your lawn without the need to buy dodgy chemical fertiliser, and spend extra time labouring to spread it round the garden.
Think about it, usually most people who bag up their clippings end up putting them into compost bin, or whacking the whole bag in the green bin so the council can put it in their big compost bin.
But by mulching, you take advantage of the organic nutrients to help your lawn be more healthy, by recycling its own organic material.
Not only does mulching make your lawn healthier, and greener, but will also reduce the time you have to spend mowing, as there’s no need to ever empty out the bag when it gets full!
Think of all the time taken up by endlessly trawling back and forth from the mower, emptying the bag into the bin, hitching it back on to the mower, and then five minutes later doing the same thing. Mulching can dramatically cut the time you spend mowing your lawn.
But… What about the messy grass clippings?
The best mulching mower will not leave behind large clumps of grass. But if you find that you are still getting clumps, then you may need to mow more frequently.
Ensuring the blades are kept sharp will also help the mower to cut each blade of grass into finer, almost powdered grassy goodness, preventing the big thick clippings that some old mowers shoot out.
Oh, and it should go without saying that mowing in the wet will make for some nice big grass clumps.
When Is A Mulching Mower A Bad Idea?
Of course, mulching mowers aren’t perfect. Here’s a few ways mulching mowers can be a bit of a pain:
- The cycling of the grass on to the blades means they dull faster. You will need to sharpen the blades more frequently than most other types of mowers
- If you don’t keep the blades sharp or your don’t mow regularly, mulching mowers can actually be much slower than normal mowers as you need to make several passes to mulch through your long grass with dull blades
- If you’re lawn is already seeing a lot of organic debris, such as leaves and twigs, then adding more organic matter can actually make things worse, creating a breeding ground for mushrooms, fungal infections and lawn disease
- Weeds may thrive as a result of the increased nutrients in the soil – if you don’t stay on top of weeds with a quality weed and feed regime, you may be making matters worse
- If you soil has poor drainage, adding additional weight and organic matter to the surface may result in too much moisture retention, again creating a home for fungi and disease
Are Mulching Mowers Any Good? A Quick Summary
As with many question, it depends. Primarily on whether you, as the caregiver to your lawn, are an enthusiast who regularly tends to their lawns needs, or whether you just do what is needed to get by.
If you are the latter, then perhaps your better sticking with a nice, compact hover mower. If you’re a lawn lover, then mulching mowers could bring you already gorgeous lawn to a whole new level of beautiful!