Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Mulching and Side Discharge

Well, it’s just cutting the grass, right? But it’s also one of the most important things to do to your lawn. So, it’s obvious that you’d want to do it right. You do it wrong and it exposes your lawn to disease and stress, and makes your lawn look really bad. Mowing is what separates formal lawns from a wild field of grass. Mowers come in a variety of sizes, types, and styles. It’s important to pick the right one for your mowing requirements because it affects how comfortably you can mow and how fast you can do it. Two of the most common options are mulching and side discharge, when it comes to mowing. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two.

Mulching

Mulching is a system of lawn care that is designed in such a way that the grass clippings go back to the soil, acting as a source of nutrients for the soil. As opposed to the standard mowing technique, mulching uses the clippings as a natural fertilizer by chopping off the clippings and throwing them onto the lawn where they break down quickly and providing nutrients. Mulching also gives a protective insulating layer for the soil that helps reduce water loss through evaporation. Mulching closes off all the ports, keeping the clippings within the deck where they are chopped into small pieces by special mulching blades. Most homeowners prefer mulching as it returns the clipping to the lawn, forming a thatch that can deter weeds.

Side Discharge

Modern lawn mowers come with all the three basic modes and are designed for side discharge, mulching or rear discharge. These are often called 3-in-1 mowers. You can modify the mode of discharge by opening and closing ports built into the deck or inserting a baffle. Side discharge is a rather different approach to mowing wherein the mowers have discharge chutes to eject grass clippings. Side discharge opens a port on the side of the lawnmower where the grass clippings are discharged in a stream onto the lawn and later raked up and bagged. It’s the classic choice for mowing the lawn favored by many lawn mowing companies. They provide a great cut quality and the deck pretty much cleans itself out, so it has the most suction available to pull the grass up. Side discharge is not that popular with homeowners though.

Difference between Mulching and Side Discharge

Operation

– Side discharge mowers, as the name suggest, have discharge chutes to eject grass clippings. In side discharge mode, a port opens up on the side of the lawnmower where the grass clippings are discharged in a stream onto the lawn and later raked up and bagged. Mulching mowers, on the other hand, do not have discharge chutes; instead, they have special mulching blades. Mulching closes off all the ports, keeping the clippings within the deck where they are chopped into small pieces by special mulching blades.

Natural Fertilizer

– Mulching uses the clippings as a natural fertilizer by chipping off the clippings and throwing them onto the lawn where they break down quickly and providing nutrients. It also gives a protective insulating layer for the soil that helps reduce water loss through evaporation, which in turn greatly reduces the need to water the plants. As the grass clippings go back to the soil, it also helps deter weeds. Side discharge doesn’t do that.

Cleanup

– Mulching mowers typically have an enclosed deck that keeps the grass clippings inside while they are chopped up. They are later chopped into small pieces by special mulching blades. The grass clippings do not get sprayed, so there is no cleanup required. In case of a side discharge mower, the grass clippings are blown several feet away into driveways, sidewalks, streets, etc, where they end up as trash. In small areas, side discharge is fine but in large areas you do not want to blow clippings onto walls or vehicles.

Mulching vs. Side Discharge: Comparison Chart

Summary

Well, both the mowing modes have their fair share of pros and cons. Mulching uses the clippings as a natural fertilizer by chopping off the clippings and throwing them onto the lawn where they break down quickly and providing nutrients. Side discharge opens a port on the side of the lawnmower where the grass clippings are discharged in a stream onto the lawn and later raked up and bagged. Mulching is great for small areas with no cleanup maintenance required whereas side discharge blows the grass clippings several feet away into driveways, sidewalks, streets, etc, where they end up as trash, so cleanup is needed. The cut quality is better in side discharge but the grass clippings are of no use for fertilization purposes.

Is a mulching mower better?

Mulching is the most preferred option for homeowners because it returns the clipping to the lawn, forming a thatch that can deter weeds and also acts as natural fertilizer for soil.

What does side discharge mean?

Side discharge means the grass clippings get blown out from the side of the mower which can be later collected and bagged. Such mowers have discharge chutes to eject grass clippings.

Can you convert a mulching mower to side discharge?

A 2-in-1 mower comes with two modes where you can either mulch and bag or mulch and side discharge. But it’s really tough to convert a mulching mower to a side discharge mower because mulching mower has special blade housing with no discharge chute or side opening.

Are mulching blades better?

Mulching blades are like all-purpose blades that can discharge, bag, and even mulch grass clippings in a single go. So, mulching is a great option when you mow your lawn every three to four days.

Can I use mulching blades with side discharge?

Mulching blades are sometimes called 3-in-1 blades because you can use it to mulch, bag and side discharge. In fact, you can put mulching blades into any mower.

Should you mulch every time you mow?

Mulching provides nutrients for your soil to stay healthy. So, mulching is recommended at least once a year or twice, but not every time you mow your lawn.


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References :


[0]Marek, John B. Ben and the Art of Lawnmower Maintenance. North Carolina, United States: Lulu Press, 2018. Print

[1]Peterson, Chris. Black & Decker The Complete Guide to a Better Lawn: How to Plant, Maintain & Improve Your Yard & Lawn. Minnesota, United States: Creative Publishing, 2011. Print

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