Buying a new lawn mower: a side discharge, rear discharge or mulching mower deck?
When buying a ride-on lawn mower, you can choose between different cutting methods: a mower deck with side discharge, rear discharge or mulching. But which one is best for you and your garden? To make a good comparison between the different methods, here is a list of the main advantages and disadvantages for each type.
Side discharge mower deck
A mower deck with side discharge ejects grass clippings out of a chute located on the right side of the mower deck.
The main advantages of a side discharge mower deck
Side discharge mower decks are less prone to clogging and particularly useful when mowing long or wet grass.
Grass clippings will be distributed evenly throughout your lawn, which creates a uniform appearance and prevents the buildup of clumps, reducing the need for raking or bagging.
The disadvantages of a side discharge mower deck
With a side discharge mower deck, grass clippings are ejected from the chute with great velocity. These clippings, and possible other debris on the lawn, can create a mess on patios, driveways and flowerbeds, and could lead to unwanted weed growth.
You can only mow past obstacles in one direction to avoid expelling grass clippings towards obstacles such as flowerbeds, fences or parked cars.
If you want to know more about the pros and cons of a mower with a side discharge mower deck, read the article Why use a side discharge mower deck?
Rear discharge mower deck
This type of deck is designed to discharge grass clippings from the rear of the mower.
The main advantages of a rear discharge mower deck
There is almost no risk of dispersing clippings into your flower beds or onto your patio, because the grass clippings are ejected from the rear of the mower.
You can easily cut around obstacles, as there is no chute in the way. You can approach objects from any direction, which saves you precious time.
The main disadvantage of a rear discharge mower deck
Less suitable for long or wet grass as clippings can get stuck and clog the deck.
A rear discharge mower deck could leave windrows, which doesn’t look very attractive.
In the article The pros and cons of a rear discharge mower deck you can read more details about the advantages and disadvantages of a rear discharge mower deck.
Mulching mower deck
A mulching mower deck is designed to chop grass clippings into very small pieces, which are then distributed evenly across your lawn.
The main advantages of a mulching mower deck
The chopped grass clippings act as a natural fertilizer, which help to grow a healthy lawn and reduce the need for additional fertilization.
As the grass clippings are very small, they fall to the ground. You don’t need to clean up any clippings which saves time and effort.
The disadvantages of a mulching mower deck
You have to mow regularly, once to twice a week, for the best results.
It is not suitable for high or wet grass as grass clippings will partially stick to the mower deck and can cause an uneven spread.
If you want to know more about mulching and why you should or should not do it, read the article What is mulching? Why mulch and when not to mulch.
So, if you have a large mowing area and are not concerned about the flying clippings, then a side discharge mower deck can be an excellent option for you. A rear discharge mower deck is perfect for those who need to mow near obstacles such as flower beds or fences. A mulching deck can be a good choice for those who want to keep their lawn looking healthy and vibrant and have the time to mow frequently.
Ultimately, the best choice for you will depend on your lawn design and personal preferences. Take into account factors like the size of your lawn, how often you want to mow, and the type of grass you have before making your decision.