Mulching your lawn is an important part of proper lawn and garden maintenance. Not only does it keep the look of your yard tidy, but mulching also helps the soil stay healthy by returning organic matter to it. Mulching mowers are designed specifically for this purpose, and they come with a variety of blade options.
When it comes time to mulch the clippings, you want to use the right blades on your mulching lawn mower. So, which blade is the best for mulching? If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend reading our buyer’s guide article which includes all the information you need about lawn mower blades and how each type works in order to make an educated decision. We’ll discuss the different types of blades available and provide reviews of some popular models.
So, whether you’re looking to buy your first mulching lawn mower or just need to replace your old blades, read on for information you need to make an informed purchase.
What is Mulching?
Mulch is just a layer of material, typically organic but not necessarily, that is applied and laid onto the surface of soil. Mulching, then, is the process of cutting grass or other mowable material into small pieces, and leaving it to decompose and fertilize the soil.
Mulching is a tried and true method for conserving soil moisture, increasing soil fertility and health, reducing weed development, and improving the visual appeal of your garden. Mulch can include
While it may sound like a complicated task, mulching can actually be done by anyone with a lawn mower!
What is a Mulching Lawn Mower?
Firstly, any gas or electric powered mower that has a rotating blade underneath it perpendicular to the grass can be used as a mulching mower. Mulching lawn mowers are simply mowers that use specific blades for mulching. You can buy a lawn mower that comes pre-fitted with mulching blades, or just buy mulching blades and fit them to the mower you already have.
The purpose of the mulching blade is to keep the cuttings circulating underneath the mower until they are reduced to a small size. Others have twin blades that chop the clippings into tiny pieces.
This method minimizes grass waste while also providing convenient compost for the lawn and eliminates the cost and bad environmental effect of fertilizer, plus you don’t have to do all the extra work of collecting and disposing of the grass clippings.
Different Lawn Mower Blades
The best blades for any lawn mower all depends on what you need them to do. There are three different types of lawn mower blades available – standard blades, which are also sometimes referred to as 2-in-1 blades, mulching blades (or 3-in-1 blades), as well as Gator Blades.
Standard Blades (2-in-1)
If you want an easy-to-use blade that does not require modifications or adjustments, then go for the standard blades (also called 2-in-1 blades). The 2-in-1 designation refers to either bagging or side discharge after the grass is cut. These blades are designed primarily for regular mowing of your lawn. There are normal, flat blades, as well as high lift blades.
A flat blade is a simple, standard style that has been used for years on push mowers and some riding mowers. It is the cheapest option but may not give you the best cut quality, especially if your grass gets too long, because it can rip at the ends rather than provide a clean, precise cut. These also are called low lift blades.
A high lift blade can be used when you want to shorten your grass length by a significant amount, such as in the case of overgrowth or when making a fresh start on your lawn. The angle on the edge of these blades provides suction to stand the grass straighter when cutting it. With high lift blades you are less likely to get grass in the chute, and it therefore bags a lot easier, so if you primarily bag up your grass clippings, this might be your preferred blade option.
However, this can also kick up dust or small particles of dirt into the air, making it harder to mow with as well as dirtying and potentially clogging up the mechanisms in your lawn mower.
Mulching Blades (3-in-1)
Mulching blades (also called 3-in-1 blades) are designed specifically for mulching, so they have raised surfaces on their blade edges, along with a unique curved design to maximize the amount of grass that is chopped up and sent back down to the lawn.
The 3-in-1 designation refers to either side discharge, bagging, or mulching the grass clippings.
These blades keep the grass under the mower for longer, cutting them more thoroughly and then dropping them back onto the soil for them to decompose. The curve of the blades sucks the grass up into the deck, and the extra teeth on the blades then cut the grass finer.
If you are looking for more advanced options that have 3+ functions in one blade but requires some modification to fit onto your machine, you might opt to try out Gator Blades. Gator Blades have raised cutting surfaces and deep scoops so they can catch more clippings. They can be used as mulch blades and will reduce the length of your grass clippings to half their normal size for better composting.
The unique angle of the teeth on gator blades create maximum suction on the grass and its clippings, continually pulling the grass toward the sharp cutting edge of the blade. Even the tallest grass will eventually be ground into tiny shards with these highly effective mower blades.
However, if your lawn mower has a high-performance engine or requires higher RPMs, gator blades may not work because they restrict airflow, so you may need to look for a mulching blade instead.
How do Mulching Blades Work?
Mulching blades are a must-have for any mulching lawn mower. They allow the user to get better performance and reduce maintenance, while also helping with air quality. The best mulching blades will slice through grass like butter, with no need to re-mow or go over the same area multiple times.
These blades work by throwing the clippings back under the mower, and lifting them and circulating them around the blade or blades multiple times. What this does is it ensures that all of the blades can get a cut at each piece, and ensures an each blade of grass is cut multiple times into very small pieces. Therefore the grass clippings are small enough to easily decompose and break down into the soil of your lawn, fertilizing it and making it more healthy overall.
What to Consider When Buying Mulching Blades
Now that you know how mulching blades differ from other, regular lawn mowing blades, let’s take a look at the multiple different factors that can affect your choice for the best mulching blades to purchase. There are many factors at play, so before you make a decision, be sure that you understand this will affect your entire lawn mowing experience, so don’t skimp out on getting the best possible mulching blades for you.
Yard Size and Mower Type
Often times, the size of your lawn affects what mower you then buy to cut the grass on it. Some types of lawn mower blades are not compatible with certain types of mowers, so consider first whether you have a riding lawn mower, push mower or lawn tractor. Then, when searching for blades, make sure they have listed whichever type of mower they are compatible with.
The length of the mulching blades that you buy is important, as they come in many different sizes and shapes. If you live in a hotter climate, with hardier grass, you may want to purchase blades that are longer and bigger than someone who lives in a cooler climate with short grass.
The first reason you need to know the length of the blade is to determine if it will be compatible with the type and model of lawn mower that you have. Basically, will it fit? This is crucial – you don’t want to buy blades and then find out they won’t fit in the lawn mower you’re using.
Secondly, the length of the blade directly determines how many passes you will need to make over the grass to finish mulching it, so a longer blade will save you time and effort.
Similar to the length of the blades, the weight of the mulching blades is something to take notice of. For one thing, the weight of blade influences the overall weight of the mower, and could make it more difficult to maneuver as well as heavier when moving it between storage places and your lawn.
Mulching blades are on average heavier than standard lawn mower blades. This is because these blades have more material to create the curved design and are thicker for a stronger and more precise cutting ability.
Generally, heavier is better for mulching purposes because it means that they will be more durable and long-lasting, but it also means you will have to exert more force in order to move the mower, and mower will use more energy in the form of gas or electricity to run at the same efficiency and effectiveness.
Number of Pieces
If you are replacing the blades from a standard mower with mulching blades, you have to replace all of the blades. Most lawn mowers and riding lawn mowers come with two or three blades. Replacing just one is dangerous and ineffective, because it won’t be able to provide the lift and cutting power necessary to fully mulch the grass clippings, and it could throw off the rotation of the mower and cause it to break down or wobble.
The majority of mulching blades are sold as a pack of three, but just make sure you are buying multiple rather than one single blade.
Fit and Mounting
Today’s mowers have a variety of mounting hole types, including five-point star, six-point star, bow-tie, and universal fit. The spindle – where the blade attaches – beneath the mower deck is designed for one of the shapes listed above, and blades that fit it should be easy to install.
The five-point and six-point stars are the simplest installation methods because they just need one bolt to be removed. Although universal fit replacement blades are not always the greatest choice since they aren’t made for any specific mower, they do remove the guesswork of which blade is best for your mower.
The Durability Dilemma
Mulching blades are typically more enduring than conventional mowing blades since to their thickness and construction. That could be a benefit for mulching riding lawn mowers and big commercial equipment with belt-driven decks.
However, for push lawn mowers that have direct-drive shafts, this durability can cause problems. This is because, if the blade is not attached to a belt, and it hits a stump or rock, it doesn’t have the built-in safety mechanism of slipping a bit of the belt out of place.
With a less-durable standard lawn mowing blade, this is okay because it will bend before ruining the rest of the mower, but mulching blades are thicker and heavier and therefore will not bend when hitting a stump and could then break the whole lawnmower.
Reviews For The Top 7 Mulching Blades
Now that you have a better understanding of how mulching blades work and what to look for, let’s take a look at the top seven mulching lawn mower blades. In these reviews, we’ll provide you with information about each blade as well as pros and cons so you can make an educated decision and purchase.
#1. Oregon G3 Gator Blades
- Three long-lasting and heavy-duty 18-4/9 inch replacement mower blades, with superior cutting edge for enhanced mulching, fits many residential and commercial mowers
- For 54" Cut. Replaces: Ariens 21546235; AYP 112053; Craftsman 187255; Dixon 532187756; Husqvarna 112053, 24541, 33954; Murray 187256; Poulan 187254, 187255; Rotary 12121, Stens 302-430 and other...
- Oregon mower blades are premium replacement parts, built to fit your your original brand of equipment, offering superior design and outstanding performance
The Oregon G3 Gator Blades are the number one option on our list of the best mulching blades. Oregon is a manufacturer of gardening and outdoor equipment and tools, including a professional tool line, and they are probably the best-known company for mulching blades. They have a large number of dealerships across the country, and their customer service is excellent, which is a significant benefit for items meant to endure, as these mulching blades do.
The Gator Blades utilize austempering to improve the material’s fatigue resistance as well as its impact strength. Due to this method, it’s composed of a steel that is 20% more durable, making it more hardy, sturdy, and long-lasting. It’s also unaffected by tough mowing obstacles, such as branches or walnuts, thanks to its resilience. It also has a top of the line blade sharpening technology.
The blades on this mower are extremely sharp, making them ideal for cutting through grass and optimizing airflow. The aggressive angle provided by the blades ensures excellent performance when utilized on a lawnmower. Additionally, the Oregon G3 are easy to use and can save you time and effort.
These blades are sold in a set of three. They are compatible with any 54-inch deck for lawn mowers from any manufacturer. It can fit on riding lawn mowers Ariens, Poulan Pro, Husqvarna, and Craftsman, as well as non-brand names mowers of a similar size.
#2. Rotary Copperhead Toothed Mulching Mower Blades
The Rotary Copperhead Toothed Mulching Mower Blades are also high-performing mulching blades that come in a set of three blades. These blades are 17 1/2 inches and should fit any model cutting deck that is 50 inches in width, although they are designed to be used for a Toro Timecutter or other Toro brand models.
Rotary is a great manufacturer of mulching blades and has been around since 1957. They fit their blades with high carbon steel that is premium-grade, giving them better performance and a longer blade life. The blades are also austempered to create optimal durability and hardness.
Other features include a precise, sharp cutting surface for optimally cut grass and less vibrations when mowing, vertical teeth to improve mowing efficiency, and centrifugal air lift to more speedily and uniformly distribute the grass clippings – there is 50% more airflow at discharge. This efficiency also then helps your mower to use less fuel and operate at a lower cost.
#3. 8TEN LawnRAZOR Mulching Blade Set
- Replaces OEM Part Numbers: Cub Cadet 942-04126-X, 942-0616A, 942-0616-X, MTD 742-0616, 742-0616A, 742-616A, 942-0616, 942-0616A, 942-0616-X, 942-616, 942-616A, Troy Bilt 742-0616, 742-0616A-0637
- Compatible with Models: Cub Cadet: 19A30006, 19A70041, RZT42, XT1-LT42 KH with 42" Mower Decks
- Compatible with: MTD: LT-542G, LT-542H, LT-942H, RZT-42, LT4200, T110, T130, T210, M175-42 with 42" Mower Decks, Troy Bilt: LTX1842, Pony, Bronco, Range Rider, Super Bronco, RZT42, Mustang Colt RZT42,
The 8TEN LawnRAZOR Mulching Blade Set are a great option for those with self-propelled and other riding lawn mowers. These specific blades fit on many popular brands such as MTD, Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, Toro, and Bolens, and particularly those models with 42 inch cutting decks. However, you can also find other 8TEN LawnRAZOR mulching blades for John Deere and other brands if you need to as well.
LawnRAZOR are great blades for heavy duty mulching, even in the toughest conditions, like tall grass and weeds. These 21 1/4 inch blades offer a perfect cut every time, and an overall simple and effortless mulching experience. The blades on the 8TEN are produced of 10B38 alloy steel, dynamically balanced, thoroughly heated, and precisely sharpened to a 30 degree angle before being thermoset powder coated.
#4. Maxpower 561713XB Commercial Mulching 2-Blade Set
- Includes 2 commercial mulching blades for a 42" cut.Fits Craftsman models manufactured by Husqvarna. Does not fit Craftsman models manufactured by MTD.
- Replaces Poulan, Husqvarna, Craftsman 134149, 138971, 138498, 127843, PP24003, AYP7143A79, AYP7158A49, AYP9149A69, DPR20H42STA, TS14H42C, 2P4B9A, 9169A99 and 9178B99
- Each measures 21" long by 2-1/2" wide
The Maxpower 561713XB Commercial Mulching 2-Blade Set are a perfect option for those with a 42 inch cutting deck on a riding lawn mower from brands such as Husqvarna, Craftsman, and Poulan. Notice that this set only contains two blades, however – while this should be fine for most models that they would fit, if your lawn mower comes with three blades be sure to purchase two sets. These blades are 21 inches long, and come with a 5-point star center hole.
These mulching blades have bigger cutting surfaces and sharpened cutting teeth for greater mulching, a cleaner, finer cut, and uniform chopping distribution thanks to their centrifugal air lift design. All of Maxpower’s blades are quality made and manufactured to meet or exceed all of the O.E.M specifications.
#5. MTD 942-0741A Replacement Mulching Blade
- MTD original equipment part
- 90-day warranty for defects in material or workmanship
- Length: 21-inch
Next on our list of the best blades for a mulching lawn mower is the MTD 942-0741A Replacement Mulching Blade. This is a single blade, so be sure to purchase as many as you need. This replacement blade is compatible with MTD-supplied brands such as Troy-Bilt, Rover, Remington, and Yard-Man. It is a 21 inch blade, and will fit many of the 21 inch push mower models from these manufacturers.
Simply plug in your model number when it comes to buying it to make sure you can plug it in and start mulching right away. It’s also backed by a 90 day warranty for material and workmanship defects, so if you don’t immediately see results, you can return it.
#6. Maxpower 331528B Mulching Blade
- Replaces OEM numbers 742-04100, 742-0741, 742-0741A, 942-0741 and 942-0741A
- Also fits Craftsman CMXGZAM100067
- Includes 1 mulching blade for many 21” cut MTD, Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt and Craftsman mowers
The Maxpower 331528B Mulching Blade is a great mulching blade for a 21 inch push lawn mower. These 21 inch blades are made for lawnmower brands like MTD, Cub Cadet, Craftsman, and Troy-Bilt. It has a bowtie center hole design, and meets or exceeds all necessary O.E.M. specifications. It only includes one mulching blade, however, so be sure to buy as many as you need – you don’t want to be stuck missing a blade or two!
Maxpower mulching blades have large cutting surfaces and sharp cutting teeth for efficient and powerful mulching, in addition to a cleaner, finer and more uniform cut due to their centrifugal air-lift design.
#7. MaxPower 561739B 2-Blade Set
- Includes 2 blades for many 46 in. cut Craftsman, Husqvarna and Poulan mowers
- Replaces OEM #'s 405380, 532-405380, PP21011
- Also fits Craftsman CMXGZAM110146 and CMXGZAM110147
The MaxPower 561739B 2-Blade Set is a set of 2 mulching blades to fit riding lawn mowers from brands such as Husqvarna, Poulan, and Craftsman. These blades fit on a 46 inch riding lawn mower, they have a 5 point star center hole, and exceed or meet all O.E.M. specifications.
These mulching blades by Maxpower, due to their larger cutting surfaces and sharpened cutting teeth, provide better mulching, a cleaner, finer cut, and uniform chopping distribution owing to their centrifugal air lift design.
A mulching blade is an excellent choice for your lawn mower if you want to reduce the time and effort it takes to keep your yard looking great. The blades will cut up grass clippings into tiny pieces, which means less work on your part when performing other tasks like weeding or fertilizing. These blades are also ideal for those with allergies because they won’t release as much pollen as standard blades do.
However, when it comes to mulching blades, there is no one blade that will work for everyone. The best thing you can do is educate yourself on the different types of blades and what they are good at before making a purchase. The best blade will depend on your yard type, size, weight of your machine, and budget; but luckily we’ve narrowed it down to 7 top picks that should meet all needs.
Our #1 choice, if you want our recommendation, are the Oregon G3 Gator Blades.
Keep in mind when purchasing these blades you may need an adapter kit if they don’t come pre-installed with yours (although this is rare). We hope this buyer’s guide has helped you find just what you’re looking for!