Owning a big lawn or property often means grass care through serious efforts during the growing season. Lawn mowers, riding mowers and tractors fall into the major equipment list that help keep lawns and acreage maintained. Many types of push and riding mower models can be found through a variety of manufacturers, and in recent years, the addition of mulching capability has made big strides for the industry, as well as for landscapers and home owners.
Mulching Kit Overview
Regular lawn mowers have a deck with a side chute that sends grass clippings out, either directly onto the lawn or into a catch-bag. The deck is the part that covers they blade. A mulching kit is a type of conversion package that tractor or mower owners can purchase to alter their standard mower blades and function to mulch, or recycle, the clippings rather than needing to bag, rake or collect them. Typical kits include blades, a mulch plug, a bag and brackets or hardware. They are made for push and riding mowers with various deck sizes including 42-, 44-, 48-, 50- and 54-inch decks. Costs range from about $50 to $150.
Kits vs. Mowers
According to tests done by West Virginia University Extension, the conversion kits were found to be less effective than mowers designed specifically for mulching or recycling. The reasoning is because the mulching/recycling efficiency quotient is contingent upon the design of the blade, the shape of the deck and how much power the engine has. They concluded (and others have found) that converted mowers may be underpowered. Other users report that the blades from kits work fine, as long as the grass isn't too dense or wet.
How It Works
Grass is pulled into the deck via the mulching blades. The side chute is closed via a plug or cover to prevent the grass from blowing outward, as occurs is standard mowers. The special blade chops and re-chops the grass, yielding smaller pieces which easily break down. No bagging or clean-up is required, unless a problem area exists, the ground is too wet, or blades are dull. The mulching aspect converts autumn leaves on lawns, too, which helps everyone save time, money and energy.
A Note About Thatch
One of the big buzz words in lawn care is "thatch." Dr. Bill Pound of Ohio State University says, "Thatch is a layer of living and dead rhizomes, roots, and stems growing between the green layer and the soil, not the result of grass clippings." The buildup of thatch seems more due to improper watering and fertilizing. So leaving short clippings from mowing a couple times a week, or using a mulch kit or mulching mower is totally acceptable.