Even though mowing your lawn is a chore, the mental image of your yard green and healthy makes it worth it. So, you get your gear set for mowing, only to remember something else that puts a damper on your mood: the grass clippings.
Every mowing season, you face this ordeal where you don’t really know what to do with the grass clippings. Rake them afterward? That’ll be too much work! Bag and ship them to the landfill? You heard that it’s bad for the environment! What to do, then?
The solution lies in mulching lawn mowers. In this mulching lawn mowers’ buying guide, you’ll find out all you need to know about these useful machines!
Ready to dive in?
What Is a Mulching Lawn Mower?
To explain the term, let’s break it up. Mulch is a layer that covers up the soil to promote its health—some sort of fertilizer if you will. As for lawn mowers, well, that part goes without saying.
Instead of tossing the grass clipping as a side discharge, mulching lawn mowers use these clippings as mulch. You may think that’s great because it’ll spare you the hassle of collecting the clippings—but a lawnmower with a bag attached to it can do that. Mulching lawn mowers go even further.
How Does a Mulching Lawn Mower work?
When the grass is cut into large pieces, it leads to a scene you’re all too familiar with: heaps of grass. Mulching mowers solved this by incorporating special blades that cut the grass one time after the other at high speed.
The result? Fine pieces of grass quickly decompose and nurture the soil. The word “nurture” here should be in all caps since that’s one of the most important uses of a mulching mower!
Why Use a Mulching Mower?
This handy tool is a key player that serves many roles in the field, and we’ll quickly go over them right now.
Fertilize Your Lawn
What mulching lawn mowers do is called grasscycling. As the name suggests, this process puts the grass clippings into better use; it makes fertilizer out of them. This way, you won’t spend extra money buying fertilizer, as the clippings constitute a natural fertilizer like no other.
These grass clippings supply the soil with much-needed nutrients, but that’s only half of the story. That’s as they give the soil something that helps it store those nutrients: the grass clippings supply the soil with organic matter.
Aside from benefits to the soil, mulching lawn mowers benefit the environment at large. They keep grass clippings out of the landfill, thus decreasing the solid waste by 50% in mowing seasons.
Insulate Your Lawn
The grass clippings hold a great deal of moisture within them. This doesn’t only hydrate the soil, but it also forms a protective layer that insulates the soil against the bad effects of the sun.
You may ask, what if the clippings are too abundant? Won’t they act as thatch? In other words, won’t they be overprotective and suffocate the soil?
Well, you can easily route around that by following the one-third rule: Don’t cut more than a third of the height of the lawn in one mowing session. This way, the useful clippings won’t turn into a burden on your soil.
No Grass Catcher – Easier to Push and Less Time
Many people pay extra money to get a collection system, like the grass catcher, so they don’t have to collect the clippings themselves. Of course, that’s a non-issue with the mulching lawn mowers that save you both time and money.
Types of Mowers With Mulching Settings
Nowadays, the four major types of mower include a mulching option, so let’s walk you through these different types to know which one best suits your needs!
This type of mower requires pushing just like a shopping cart, which makes it cheaper than the other types. The effort put into pushing the mower can be a major turn-off if the mower is heavy. That’s why many brands designed their mowers to be as lightweight as possible.
Additionally, most push mowers come with all three options regarding grass clippings: bagging, side discharge, and mulching. Also, they can be powered by gas or electricity, with electric mowers coming with a cord or a battery, aka cordless.
Otherwise known as walk-behind mowers, self-propelled mowers use motors to move on their own. They just need you to gently steer them where you want to mow. In return for this convenience, they cost more money.
A lawn tractor is a riding mower that takes on heavy-duty tasks. Namely, it can handle highly uneven, thick terrain. It also comes in handy when there’s a lot of thatch over the grass. Even more, lawn tractors can remove the snow that might blanket your lawn in the winter.
As for their ability to mulch, lawn tractors provide excellent mulching. Of course, it’s to be expected that such a machine will cost significantly more than the previous two types.
A zero-turn mower is a lawn tractor on steroids. It’s a riding mower, but one that’s bigger, mightier, and faster—in short, it’s a beast. That’s why it’s mostly used by professional gardeners and costs a sizable sum of money.
Features to Consider
Mulching lawn mowers are different from regular ones in many ways, including the blades. That’s why you should know more about this important feature.
The blades of mulching lawn mowers are significantly more curved than regular mowers. As a result, they have a higher “lift,” which translates to an uncanny ability to re-cut the grass multiple times.
This way, the blades chop the grass into fine bits, so it can degrade easily and fertilize the soil. True, there’s a specific blade for each mode, be it mulching, bagging, or side-discharge. However, there are 3-in-1 blades that work with all three of them.
Another characteristic feature of mulching blades is their width; they have a wider diameter, which means they’re considerably thicker. The thickness, however, can vary depending on your needs.
For a small lawn, one that’s between 5,000-1,000 square feet, you’ll need a blade on the thinner side of the spectrum, around 16 inches wide. With a bigger lawn, up to 20,000 square feet, you’ll need a blade with 20-22 inches of cutting width.
Finally, if the lawn extends over one acre of land, then you’re going to need a riding mower with above 40-inches blades.
Mulching Lawn Mower Tips
If you decide to use a mulching lawnmower, you have to know when to turn the mulching setting on. It’s inadvisable to mulch when you have exceptionally tall grass, especially if you’re cutting more than a third of its height.
Another situation where you don’t want to mulch is when dead leaves are all over your lawn. Also, if there’s a disease in your lawn that you want to stop from spreading, then making the clippings fall back into the soil is a no-go.
Here’s one final pro tip: use your mulching lawn mower only when the grass is dry. This way, you’ll have a clean-cut, and the clippings will disperse better in the soil.
The Top 5 Mulching Lawn Mowers – Reviewed
#1. Snapper NX-100 Ninja Mulching Lawn Mower
- Briggs & Stratton 850 professional Series engine features easier starting, smoother and quieter operation, increased durability and spin on oil filter for longer life
- Rear wheel drive improves walk behind mower traction and the smooth turn differential helps ensure easy maneuverability without damaging your grass
- Ninja blade features 6 powerful cutting surfaces to finely mulch your grass while the deck design blows them back into the lawn
The Snapper NX-100 Ninja Mulching Lawn Mower is the ultimate mulching mower for your lawn or garden. It is self propelled, so you don’t have to push it at all; it will drive itself at any speed between 1.9 and 6.4 km/h, and it only needs you to guide the way. It boasts a strong Briggs & Stratton 190 CC 875EXi-Series engine that performs well in any lawn conditions, and it has a ReadyStart functionality, meaning you don’t need to manually prime the engine before starting.
High 25 cm rear wheels provide its rear wheel drive system superior traction and purchase on both level and uneven surfaces. Additionally, the cutting deck is 21 inches wide and is made with durable powder-coated steel, so it will last a long time and won’t wear down easily.
When it comes to mulching features, the Snapper NX-100 Ninja is second to none. It has uniquely made and shaped cutting blades that have 6 different cutting surfaces. It therefore produces mulch that is extremely fine, meaning it is more easily absorbed into the soil and provides more of its nutrients, improving the soil health and quality. The deck also functions as a blower to blow the mulch back directly onto the lawn as it is being cut. If you sometimes don’t want the mulching function, however, don’t worry. The Ninja has 4-in-1 functionality so you can mulch, collect the clippings, or sweep them back onto the lawn without mulching via rear or side discharge. You can do anything and everything with this self-propelled mulching lawn mower.
#2. Honda HRS 536 VK Petrol Mulching Lawn Mower
The Honda HRS 536 VK Petrol Mulching Lawn Mower is another great mulching push mower that is powerful and efficient. You can use it in virtually any situation and on any terrain, around orchards and trees, driveways, and grass verges, or even in a large open yard with rough or long grass. It boasts a reliable GCV160 OHC engine with an automatic decompressor for a rapid and easy start every time, and although the engine is very powerful it runs at a relatively quiet 98 dB so you won’t disturb your neighbors when mowing.
The HRS is so maneuverable because it is one of Honda’s most compact and lightest lawn mowers yet; it features a lightweight but incredibly durable 31.5 kg steel cutting deck that is 21 inches wide and has 6 cutting heights between 26-88 millimeters high for maximum flexibility if you have certain patches of grass that grow faster than others.
When cutting your lawn with the HRS you have the option to bag your grass clippings, eject them out the side or mulch them. To change between side-ejection and mulching all you have to do is open or close the ejection chute. It is also very fast and streamlined – having free-rolling ball bearings on all four wheels and a single speed drive, this lawn mower can get your entire lawn mowed in very little time, and it is perfect for almost any sized garden up to a few acres large.
#3. Greenworks G40LM35 40V Cordless Lawn Mower
The Greenworks G40LM35 40V Cordless Lawn Mower is a small and lightweight push lawn mower that is great for a small lawn or garden. If you have just a small patch of grass that you need to take care of, this is the best option for you. It doesn’t rely on gasoline or need any oil changes, and therefore it is environmentally friendly and doesn’t produce any emissions. It is also battery-operated, so you won’t have any of the hassle that a corded lawn mower has; simply pop the battery in and start mowing.
The G40LM35 is by far the most inexpensive lawn mowing option on this list, so if you are looking for a starter model that gets the job done but doesn’t cost an exorbitant amount, look no further. It also saves you enough money that you can purchase an extra battery or two – this way, even if you have a medium sized garden, all you have to do is swap one out when it dies and continue mowing. A Greenworks mower with multiple extra batteries can still mow almost the same amount as the other mowers on this list, but at a far lower cost.
This mower is a 2-in-1 model that can either bag your clippings as they are made or mulch them by evenly distributing them across the grass as you cut. It has 5 different cutting heights ranging from 20 millimeters to 70 millimeters, although it has a fairly narrow 14 inch cutting deck width. Additionally, the electric engine is much quieter than comparable gasoline models, and it is very light and small so you can easily store it in a small place in your garage or garden shed.
#4. Sun Joe MJ403E 17-Inch 13-Amp Electric Lawn Mower/Mulcher
- Questions, Text 563563 to chat directly with a Sun Joe expert
- POWERFUL: 13-amp motor cuts a 17-inch wide path
- HEIGHT CONTROL: Tailor cutting Height with 7-position Height control
The next mulching lawn mower on our list is the Sun Joe MJ403E 17-Inch 13-Amp Electric Lawn Mower/Mulcher. This is one of the most reasonably priced models around, and it comes with the Sun Joe commitment to reliability and performance, as well as its two year warranty. This is a lightweight – weighing only 31.5 pounds! – and compact mower that can fit in any nook or cranny in your garage or garden shed, for easy storage, yet it still manages to pack a 17-inch wide cutting deck and 13 amp motor, so your lawn can be mowed quickly and in just a few passes.
Simply push the instant start button and the Sun Joe MJ403E starts right up. You do have to make sure it is connected to an outlet or extension cord, so this mower is better suited to small or medium sized gardens. This mulcher mower has 7 different height positions that you can adjust between, so you can specify the grass cutting height from 0.98 to 2.87 inches. Easily convert between the mowing and mulching functions with its detachable bag and mulch plug. The bag holds up to 12 gallons of grass at a time, and the rugged, sturdy all-terrain front and rear wheels allow you to use this mower in any lawn conditions.
#5. WORX WG779 40V Power Share 14-Inch Lawn Mower w/ Mulching & Intellicut
- [6 HEIGHT ADJUSTMENTS] A single lever lets you set the height you want to cut your lawn, depending on the season, or just your preference
- [INTELLICUT] feature provides torque on demand for tougher conditions
- [SAME BATTERY, EXPANDABLE POWER] Worx Power Share is compatible with all Worx 20v and 40v tools, outdoor power and lifestyle products
The WORX WG779 40V Power Share 14-Inch Lawn Mower w/ Mulching & Intellicut is the final mower on our list of the best mulching mowers. It weighs in at just under 30 pounds, and is sleek enough to maneuver around any obstacles that might populate your lawn, but still has a 14 inch cutting deck width so it can finish a mowing or mulching session in very little time. A single lever allows you to adjust between 6 different height positions for your cutting deck, so you can change the grass height according to the weather, the season, or your own preferences.
The WORX WG779 comes with 2 20V batteries included, with each 4Ah battery giving you up to ⅛ of an acre on a single charge. Not only is this more environmentally friendly than gas powered mowers, but it also is quieter and easier to start with the push of a button. This mulcher and mower also comes with patented Intellicut torque technology, which allows you to turn the power of the mower up when you have higher, more difficult grass, and down when the grass is thinner or easier to manage. It also comes with a removable bag and mulch plug for an easy switch between mowing and mulching.
Grass clippings constituted a hassle for many lawn owners for quite a while. Not only do collecting and dumping the clippings take time but throwing them in the landfill also harms the environment.
That’s where mulching lawn mowers come into play, as they use the clippings as a natural, free fertilizer. With mulching lawn mowers available in different types, you’re bound to find the mower that you’re looking for! If you want our top recommended mulching lawn mower, look no further than the Snapper NX-100 Ninja Mulching Lawn Mower.
We hope this article has helped with your ongoing search for the best lawn mower for mulching your lawn. Thanks for reading!