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Mulching Vs Side Discharge: Which One Is Better For Lawn?

You’re trying to decide whether to mulch your leaves this year or side discharge them, but you’re unsure which option is better for your lawn.

Mulching or side discharge are both popular ways to deal with leaves, but they have different pros and cons. Mulching keeps leaves from blowing around and compacting the ground, but it can take longer. Side discharge gets rid of leaves quickly but can leave a messy lawn. So, which is the best option for you?

We’ve compiled a list of the pros and cons of side discharge vs mulching so that you can make an informed decision about what’s best for your lawn.

What Are Mulching Blades?

Mulching blades are designed to cut the lawn and transport the clippings towards the deck, where they are mulched multiple times before dropping back onto the grass. Because of the curved surface and enhanced cutting edge, they can cut the lawn more effectively than regular blades.

Overgrown grass can cause clogs beneath the deck and clumps of grass on the trimmed lawn. Mulching is an eco-friendly technique to dispose of grass clippings and return vital nutrients to the soil. They are best suited for lawns mowed every three or four days. When the soil is nutrient deficient, it will affect your plants, like stroma the trio star leaves curling, calathea zebrina brown edges, calathea leaves pointing up, etc. Therefore, mulching blades are important to maintain healthy soil for your plants.

What Is Side Discharge?

Side discharge is a popular option for those who want a neatly trimmed lawn. It involves using a special mower that expels the grass clippings outward instead of having them chopped up and deposited back onto the turf as mulch.

Even though it sends clippings flying in all directions, This process is still a very common way to mow, especially for those with large yards. It is because it has a few key benefits over other methods. For one, the clean deck on these mowers allows for more precise cutting, which leads to a faster job overall. Additionally, since the clippings are not collected under the deck, the blades stay cleaner and require less maintenance.

While it can be messy if not careful, it is still an effective way to deal with tall grass or when speed is of the essence. It is also worth noting that most side discharge mowers come with a control valve lever that allows you to adjust the direction of the clippings, so you can avoid making too much of a mess.

Mulching Vs Side Discharge

There are two main ways to dispose of the grass clippings left over from mowing your lawn- mulching and side discharge. Mulching means leaving the clippings on the ground to decompose, while side discharge means shooting them out the side of the mower.

Both methods have pros and cons, so deciding which is best for you can be tough. Here, we’ll look at the pros and cons of side discharge vs mulching so that you can make an informed decision about which is right for you.


Mulching is adding organic or inorganic material to the soil’s surface. Its goal is to improve the soil’s structure, water retention, and fertility while reducing weed growth. It also helps protect plants from extreme temperatures and can increase their lifespan. Many types of mulch, both organic and inorganic, can be used for gardening.


  • Less cleanup: First and foremost, the blades chop debris into easily decomposable and very small pieces. It keeps your lawn neat and eliminates the need to rake or bag leaves and other yard waste. It helps keep pests at bay by eliminating hiding places for insects and rodents.
  • Safety: Perhaps the most notable advantage is safety. When using a standard side discharge mower, debris is tossed out from the side of the mower and can cause dangerous projectiles near people or automobiles. Mulching lawnmower blades keep all debris beneath the mower, eliminating this safety hazard.
  • Fertilizer: Mulching blades also work to fertilize your lawn as they mulch the organic material, providing essential nutrients to the soil. The clippings are chopped finely and deposited back into the lawn, where they decompose quickly. It provides valuable nutrients to help keep your grass healthy. It also helps to reduce weed growth.
  • Retain moisture: The blade action on the lawnmower cuts the grass and breaks up any thatch that has built up, allowing water to penetrate the soil more easily. Mulching also helps to retain moisture in the soil, which is beneficial during periods of drought. It can help to reduce watering frequency and conserve water.


  • Not suitable for long and wet grass: Mulching blades are unsuitable for long and wet grass because they can clog up and become ineffective. The grass will not be able to be cut properly, and it will become messy and difficult to work with. In addition, the wet grass will rust the blades on the mulching blade, which can cause damage to the tool.
  • May not provide a clean cutting: Due to the airflow, the mulching mower may not lift the grass blades as high, resulting in some blades being cut while others are not. It can leave your lawn with an uneven appearance.
  • Inefficiency: If you have a large lawn, this can be frustrating. It takes them longer to cut the grass, and you may have to go over the same spot more than once. Additionally, they can be difficult to maneuver, and you may miss spots.

Side Discharge

Side discharge directs the clippings out of the side of the mower instead of into a bag or chute. It is a convenient option if you do not want to stop and empty a bag or chute, but it can also be more dangerous because the clippings can fly back at you.


  • Excellent for extra-long and wet lawns: The side discharge mower is excellent for extra-long and wet lawns. It has a side opening that allows it to move through long and wet grass regions without bogging down. The mower will remove extra-long or damp clippings before they accumulate inside, causing the blades will slow down and cause other issues.
  • Faster for large areas: The design of the side discharge mower allows it to move faster and cover more ground in less time. The clippings are discharged from the mower immediately so the blades can continue spinning at high speed. It enables you to continue going without having to stop to clean up clippings.
  • Excellent cut: The blades suck air from beneath the mower and blow out the side, so this airflow goes under any lying grass blades. It allows for a clean and even cut every time. Its chute will also pick up your blades and allow them to be trimmed to a consistent length. It is especially helpful if you have a lot of grass to trim.


  • Less effective clippings: When using a side discharge mower, the clippings from the grass are blown away and do not get distributed back onto the soil. It can cause problems with fertilizing and can lead to an unhealthy lawn. Additionally, the fast ejection of clippings can cause them to be bigger and take longer to decompose back into the soil.
  • Potential hazard: The blades on these mowers can kick up stones and other debris. They can cause serious injury if thrown in the direction of people or pets. The discharge from these mowers can also contain harmful bacteria that can cause skin irritation or infection.
  • Messy: The blades on the mower chop up the grass and spit it out the side, resulting in bits of grass and debris flying all over the place. It can make it difficult to work near the mower, as you will constantly be dodging flying objects, and can also create a mess in your yard.

The Bottom Line

Mulching lawnmowers are so named because they are designed for chopping the clippings from the grass into finer pieces, which decompose more quickly.

It is an excellent way to recycle nutrients back into the soil, and it also helps to reduce the number of clippings that need to be disposed of. These mowers typically have a smaller cutting width than other lawnmowers. It can be beneficial if you have a lot of grass to mow, preventing the blades from becoming clogged and losing power.

Side discharge lawn mowers, on the other hand, expel the grass clippings out the side of the mower. They also typically have a larger cutting width than mulching lawnmowers, making them better suited for larger yards.

Which type of lawn mower is right for you? That depends on your individual needs and preferences. If you have a small yard and want to recycle the nutrients back into the soil, then a mulching lawn mower is a great option. If you have a large yard and don’t mind disposing of the grass clippings, then a side-discharge lawn mower may be more suitable.

Can I Use Mulching Blades With Side Discharge?

Yes, you can use mulching blades with a side-discharge lawnmower. Mulching blades chop the grass into smaller pieces, which is a better approach to delivering the soil with nutrients. Use a lawn sweeper to collect the mulch, or put it onto the lawn to let it grow. Mow the lawn with the blade of the mower pointing inward.

The benefit of mulching blades upon the side discharge is that the lawn does not clump beneath the deck as quickly. They mow the lawn into ultra-fine particles that exit the side discharge, avoiding collecting beneath a damp lawnmower. Also, they aid in absorbing sunlight without becoming obscured by thick, inconsistent grass clippings.

However, tall grass necessitates regular standard lawnmower blades. Due to its thickness and unevenness, mulching blades may not be powerful enough. And after you’ve finished cutting, use a sweep-up with a lawn sweeper.


Mulching vs side discharge are two popular ways to deal with the clippings left by your lawn mower. Mulching leaves the clippings on the ground while side discharge blows them away from the mower.

Each method has its pros and cons, which we will explore in this article. By understanding the benefits and drawbacks of these two processes, you can decide which one is best for your needs.

Kelly Lawrence

Kelly Lawrence

Kelly Lawrence is the CEO of Swipe Garden. Over 10 years in the writing and passion for gardening, she brings a wealth of expertise and creativity to the world of gardening. Kelly Lawrence has cultivated a community of plant lovers, making gardening accessible and enjoyable for all.