Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Cool season grasses like Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescue & Rye
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Alex1389
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Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by Alex1389 »

Curious to see whether more folks mulch vs side discharge here. Are you finding that your clippings are small enough w/ side discharge that they disappear pretty quickly?

My Recycler seems to bog down and leave clumps every now and then while mulching, so I'm considering side discharging moving forward. Have also seen issues where mulching doesn't provide enough suction to lift all grass blades up to be cut.

Any other benefits to side discharging?

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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by zeus201 »

Side discharge does provide a bit more "suction". I typically side discharge and hardly ever see clippings laying around the next day.

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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by Suburban Jungle Life »

I used to be a die hard mulcher but it tended to leave uncut lines and if I didn't mow often enough, it left clumps. Now I always discharge. The vacuum is much better and the cut much cleaner. No more clumps and no more uncut lines. You do have to mow more often so the clippings aren't super long though. If it does get really long, I cut it 2 times. First, I mulch, then I recut but discharge it. This cuts down the long blades and tries to mulch them but the second cut gives the clean cut and disperses any clumps also.

My mower has rear discharge so while it gets on the shoes, it stays out of the flower beds. If yours is a side discharge, you have to mow a specific direction to keep the beds clean. Small drawback but not compared to the benefit of a much cleaner cut. Have you tried both to compare yourself?

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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by Alpine »

I have the Toro Super Recycler - and it is super! It is a mulching type - no side discharge and it does a really nice job. If you are getting clumps there might be two reasons I can think of: 1) Grass is too tall - need to cut sooner, 2) Walking too fast and the mower can't process all the incoming material. Or maybe a combination.

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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by ericgautier »

I side discharge only because my mower is older and I cannot find the complete mulch kit for it. :lol:

Go to around the :20 sec mark.. :bandit:



I had to double cut on this mow, but usually clippings are gone the next day.

When I had my Toro 22" (my brother has it now), I always mulch with it.
Last edited by ericgautier on Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by Tsmith »

I think this comes down to how often you mow. I tend to mow every other day when the grass is really growing and have no problems mulching but if the grass is too high I will at times side discharge then go over again mulching the clippings as I dont like to see clippings.
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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by Alex1389 »

ericgautier wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:40 am
I side discharge only because my mower is older and I cannot find the complete mulch kit for it. :lol:

Go to around the :20 sec mark.. :bandit:



I had to double cut on this mow, but usually clippings are gone the next day.

When I had my Toro 22" (my brother has it now), I always mulch with it.
That must have been a fun clean up in the beds!!

I'm usually pretty good about mowing 1/3 of the grass blade, but life does happen sometimes and it gets a little out of hand. Maybe I'll continue mulching when I have the lawn in check and stick to the side discharge when it's longer.

I've tried both and I noticed the side discharge did leave large clippings on the lawn, but they were probably gone within a couple days. Definitely had to adjust the mowing pattern to avoid clippings in the beds.

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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by ericgautier »

Alex1389 wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:50 am

That must have been a fun clean up in the beds!!
A quick blow is all that is needed and clippings are back in the lawn. :lol: But yeah, I usually try to discharge away from the bed.
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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by ForsheeMS »

A lot of how well mulching works depends on both the mower and conditions. Some mowers do much better at mulching than others. Mulching tall, wet grass is going to go bad for most any mower. I discharge and have no issues with visible clippings. I did remove the discharge chute mainly because it got in the way mowing around trees. With the chute off it disperses the clippings even better but if the wind direction is just right you will get them on you.

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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by Suburban Jungle Life »

Alpine wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:33 am
I have the Toro Super Recycler - and it is super! It is a mulching type - no side discharge and it does a really nice job. If you are getting clumps there might be two reasons I can think of: 1) Grass is too tall - need to cut sooner, 2) Walking too fast and the mower can't process all the incoming material. Or maybe a combination.
Does yours have a plastic flap on the side? I thought that was standard.

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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by steensn »

I switch back and forth. I do not have time to cut as often as I should, especially around vacations. If it will be a tall mow, I side discharge and make sure I mulch next time. I don't usually see the clipping after a few days either way.

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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by Alpine »

Suburban Jungle Life wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:22 am
Alpine wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:33 am
I have the Toro Super Recycler - and it is super! It is a mulching type - no side discharge and it does a really nice job. If you are getting clumps there might be two reasons I can think of: 1) Grass is too tall - need to cut sooner, 2) Walking too fast and the mower can't process all the incoming material. Or maybe a combination.
Does yours have a plastic flap on the side? I thought that was standard.
@Suburban Jungle Life Mine is somewhat old - maybe 15 yrs or so. It doesn't have a plastic side flap. There is only a door on the back which can be removed for bagging. Would like to get something newer but it's been pretty reliable - can't convince the finance dept (wife) yet. :)

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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by Suburban Jungle Life »

Alpine wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:00 pm
Suburban Jungle Life wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:22 am
Does yours have a plastic flap on the side? I thought that was standard.
@Suburban Jungle Life Mine is somewhat old - maybe 15 yrs or so. It doesn't have a plastic side flap. There is only a door on the back which can be removed for bagging. Would like to get something newer but it's been pretty reliable - can't convince the finance dept (wife) yet. :)
Hey! If it works well, why spend more? Unless you like to collect them like some members here...

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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by gene_stl »

Almost sixty years ago my very sly father took me to the lawn mower store and let me select the new mower we needed since our Clinton Engine powered rotary push mower died. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maquoketa ... n_Building)
I selected a 3.5 hp "self propelled" (didn't work at all because it had metal herringbone friction drive wheels which milled the tires down to where there was no contact) mower, with the Briggs wind up starter. ( I was too light and skinny to pull a recoil starter :lol:). We let the salesman sell us a "mulching kit". It was a small sheet metal plate to go over the discharge port. No sculptured anything here. (circa 1959) It was like an extra $1.50

Dad knew what he was doing. Mowing became my sole responsibility. One of the first things (without asking Dad) I did was remove the mulching plate. I have tried mulching twice since then on mowers where it was convenient and have never liked it any better.

I don't like clumps of grass. If I have waited too long (probably why I don't have luck with mulching) and I get some clumps I go over them a second time to "mix them with air". This has worked fine since I got the orange monster in 1999 and works with my Hustler. Worst case if I really waited too long to mow I hit em again the next day after they have dried.

It seems that the suction to make the grass stand up using mulching blades and the air flow to make a better discharge may be mutually exclusive. Supposedly mulching blades used with the discharge chute open don't work as well as regular blades. Maybe others can comment on this. I was surprised.

I do have a tow behind vac that attaches to the mower deck which I used to use to suck up leaves. Since my soil testing showed low side organic matter I will probably just grind them up in the future. Bagger methods are a third choice which has going for it that you can start a nice compost heap. A tow behind really cleans up the lawn.

Anywas I vote for side discharge.
Last edited by gene_stl on Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:34 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by Green »

I side discharged the low input area today because it was a bit long. I hadn't mowed half of it in a while because of the heat, and today was low 80s so I did it this afternoon. The discharged pieces were long but spread out well and will dry up. Shooting weed parts out was fun. The mower seems to stay cleaner and of course no clumps. I could walk at a normal pace and not worry about it. I'll have to do it more often.
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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by Alex1389 »

Update: I think I’m a side discharge convert. Side discharged yesterday when the lawn was a bit overgrown. Mower went through everything like a champ. Definitely liked the pace I was able to walk, and the clippings aren’t much different than the clippings you’d see from a final trim pass.

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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by steensn »

Side discharge today, I don’t think you can tell.


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Last edited by steensn on Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by b0nk3rs »

my super recycler with gator mulching blades destroys anything i throw at it. i only side discharge when i feel like i need some extra suction.

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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by steensn »

b0nk3rs wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 7:33 pm
my super recycler with gator mulching blades destroys anything i throw at it. i only side discharge when i feel like i need some extra suction.
Did you buy the gator mulching blades an an upgrade? Are they pretty legit?

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Re: Mulch vs. Side Discharge

Post by b0nk3rs »

steensn wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 7:45 pm
b0nk3rs wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 7:33 pm
my super recycler with gator mulching blades destroys anything i throw at it. i only side discharge when i feel like i need some extra suction.
Did you buy the gator mulching blades an an upgrade? Are they pretty legit?
I just bought the blade on Amazon a month or two after I got the mower. It's a really strong blade and has been a workhorse for me. I have no problem breaking the 1/3 rule and still leaving a clean pass.

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