Best riding lawn mower with a bagger 2023. Riding mower leaf mulcher

The Best Mower Height for Mulching Leaves Explained

Everybody loves having big shade trees in their backyard garden. However, we may start regretting our choices when the fall comes, and all these beautifully colored leaves end up on the ground. A lot of people prefer to rake them and discard them somehow. But they can be used for a greater purpose – the leaves can also be mulched or picked up with a lawn mower, using them as compost for your lawn or trees. However, when I first tried to do this I wasn’t really sure what height setting I should use on my lawn mower. After all, some of the leaf piles can be very intimidating, and I wasn’t sure if my lawn mower can deal with them. So, what is the best mower height for mulching leaves? The best mower height for mulching leaves is 3 inches. However, the right height can vary from 2 to 4 inches, depending on the height of your grass. If you aren’t sure, using the highest setting on your mower is generally a good practice for mulching leaves. As you can see, these numbers can vary a little, and I will get into that in a bit as there are some caveats and details that are worth knowing. So if you are interested in learning more, read on.

How Does Mulching Work?

Let me start by giving you the basics you need to know, then we can continue expanding on top of it. So what exactly is mulching? There are two types of mulch; (1) organic and (2) non-organic. Organic mulch consists of a tiny layer of decaying organic matter, which is spread out on the ground. For example, this is something that you would see naturally occurring in forests where leaves and branches fall on the ground and create a thick layer on top of it. Non-organic mulch consists of materials that will not break down and decay with time. Things like gravel, rubber chips and black plastic can be considered non-organic.

What Is the Purpose of Mulch?

Mulching is an excellent garden practice that a great many people do. Its purpose is to provide the soil and plants with nutrient-rich bio-degradable material. The mulch will lower the evaporation rate and keeps the moisture in the soil, and it will keep it from eroding, compacting, and crusting. The mulch is frequently used to protect plants during the winter by balancing out the soil temperature. It fertilizes the soil and creates an environment where microorganisms and worms will thrive and grow. Ultimately this will improve the plants’ health as well.

Can You Use Leaves for Mulch?

If you allow the leaves on your lawn to really build up without taking care of them, they will end up suffocating it. This happens because the thick layer of leaves that builds up over time will prevent any light and air from getting through it and reaching the soil underneath. This is where mulching comes into play. Mulching consists of shredding down the leaves into smaller pieces. The leaves will then act as a natural compost, fertilizer, and soil builder that will provide your lawn and soil with beneficial nutrients. Mulching your leaves can be an easy and readily accessible way for almost everyone to have a beautiful vibrant looking lawn without having to use chemicals, and best of all, it doesn’t require much time. Another advantage of using your leaves as mulch is that you don’t have to spend time raking them and collecting them into big piles. This can be extremely time-consuming, while in comparison mulching your leaves with a lawn mower takes very little time. Weeds are the bane of any gardener. But did you know you can also prevent weeds from growing naturally? Studies showed that using leaf mulch reduces the number of dandelions that will grow the following year.

Can You Use a Lawn Mower for Mulching Leaves?

Also, there are lawn mowers that come with a specially designed high-lift mulching blade(s) that tend to do a better job at mulching leaves.

But even the regular lawn mowers can do the trick, and a lot of people use them. After all, mowing thick grass can be more demanding compared to shredding dried leaves.

You have two options here:

  • You can use the leaves as mulch on your lawn, in which case you can just go over them with the lawn mower without attaching the grass catcher. Keep in mind that it may not be recommended to use some mowers without a grass catcher. They may not even start. Make sure to double-check that in your user’s manual that came with your lawn mower. After you are ready, you may need to rake up the leaves in order to spread them out more evenly across the lawn.
  • The other option is to use the mulch somewhere else, in which case you can leave the grass catcher on and pick up the leaves with the mower.

Also, before you start, make sure to have all the leaves on your lawn. This may be the only real time-consuming part of the work as you will need to rake or blow the leaves from the driveway and patios.

What is the Ideal Mower Height Setting for Mulching Leaves?

Mulching at the right height is crucial as it will reduce the stress on your lawn mower. And there is a little caveat here that I’d like to explain – we need to consider the height of our grass first.

Different types of grass have different high recommendations, so the right height will depend on what kind of grass you have. For example:

  • Bermuda grass and Zoysiagrass are cut at 1 to 2 inches;
  • Kentucky Bluegrass and Buffalograss are cut at 2 to 3 inches; and
  • Tall Fescue is kept at about 2,5 to 3,5 inches.

Generally speaking, the height of your grass will be roughly between 1 to 3 inches.

Of course, this may not apply to your particular case if, for example, you haven’t mowed your lawn for a while. So take a quick look at how tall the grass is and start by adjusting your lawn mower accordingly. Usually, three inches or just using the highest setting possible should be good enough.

And if you want, you can also mow your lawn by lowering the height of your lawn mower after shredding the leaves.

How Do the Height Settings on Lawn Mowers Work?

Lawn mowers have various height settings.

However, these do not always represent the same height across the different models. And the numbers do not necessarily represent the height in inches, so a setting the height in position one doesn’t necessarily mean one inch.

Make sure to refer to your user’s manual for more information.

If there is not enough detailed information in the user’s guide, you can use a ruler to measure the height from the blade(s) to the ground manually.

Can a Lawn Mower Mulch Thick Leaf Piles?

Say you have your lawn mower set at the highest setting possible, but you are facing a mighty big pile of leaves. What do you need to do in this case? Can the mower do it?

If the leaves are really thick and in big piles, don’t worry. Just raise the lawn mower a little on its back wheels to get the leaves to pass under the blades. Make sure to keep the back of the lawn mower low.

Lawn mowers are super powerful, and even bigger piles of leaves have no chance of standing up against them.

How to Mulch Your Leaves with a Lawn Mower

Mulching leaves is not much different than what you would normally do when mowing your lawn.

Pass through the leaves one or two times and inspect the result. What you want to see is leaves, which are cut and shredded into very tiny dime-sized pieces.

You should end up with about a half of an inch of grass sticking out of the leaf mulch.

Generally speaking, there shouldn’t be more than an inch of leaf mulch. Make sure to rake it and spread it out as evenly as possible if it piles up.

You can also use the lawn mower with an attached grass catcher and go over the mulch to pick up some of it.

If you want to place the mulch around trees, use between 3 to 6 inches of mulch, and for flowers, you can use about 2 to 3 inches of leaf mulch.

I would recommend going once or twice over the same area and in a criss-cross pattern. That way, you will ensure good coverage and proper shredding of all of the leaves.

The last tip is to mulch only dry leaves. Wet leaves can:

  • Clog the mower;
  • Place the mower under a lot of stress; and
  • The mower may not be able to get a good hold of the leaves.

And trying to work on wet ground may be dangerous, as there is an increased risk of slipping and falling.

Hi! I’m Peter, the owner of BackyardGadget. Working around the house has always been a big part of my life. I’ve created this site to share my experience, and to help people choose the right tools for the job. Thank you for stopping by!

Recent Posts

Do you own a rototiller? You might be amazed to discover that this garden tool has hidden talents beyond its primary role in gardening. So what else can you use a rototiller for? There are a.

As you watch a farmer plow his field or a gardener going over their yard with a rotary tiller, have you ever wondered why tillers turn over the soil and what benefit it has? Turning over soil.

About Us

Hi! I’m Peter, the owner of BackyardGadget. Working around the house has always been a big part of my life. I’ve created this site to share my experience, and to help people choose the right tools for the job. Thank you for stopping by!

Legal information is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to also participates in affiliate programs with Clickbank, Commission Junction, and other sites. is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

Best riding lawn mower with a bagger 2023

The best riding lawn mower with a bagger takes the chore out of lawn maintenance.

Want to achieve a manicured lawn? Using the best riding lawn mower with a bagger help keep your yard pristine. Attaching a bagger means you don’t leave unsightly clumps of grass scattered across the lawn.

Riding mowers are convenient for large plots, making short work of lawns of several acres. If you’re mowing on a grand scale, collecting all the grass clippings can be daunting. But a riding lawn mower with a bagger does the work for you, sparing you from this mammoth task. It can save you time by tackling two chores at once.

If you’re in the market for a riding mower, there are several factors to weigh up. It pays to consider factors like speed, quality of the cut, and cost. Our guide to the best riding lawn mowers takes you through the buying process, step-by-step.

Look out for mowers that offer different options for your grass clippings to give you more choices. You may see products with a mulching kit attachment, which allows you to return nutrients to the grass.

Adding a bagger into the equation can make the buying process more complex. Be aware that most riding mowers don’t supply a bagger with the product. you will need to purchase this separately and factor it into your budget.

Best riding lawn mower with a bagger

Why you can trust Top Ten Reviews

Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

When choosing a bagger, compatibility is the top consideration. Not all baggers fit all mowers, so check this before you commit. You will also want to factor in the capacity of the bagger, which will depend on the size of your plot. Thankfully, we’ve researched the best riding lawn mowers suitable for use with a bagger. We’ve saved you a job by recommending a compatible bagger for each one.

Riding lawn mowers with a bagger

Reasons to avoid

If you want to take the chore out of lawn maintenance, the Troy-Bilt Bronco 42 has got you covered.

The Troy-Bilt Bronco 42 scores a solid 4.3 out of 5 from over 900 reviews on the Troy-Bilt website, with 84% of reviewers recommending the product. People praise the speed, with several mentioning it cut down on mowing time. However, several reviews suggest the pedal is stiff, which may be tiring if operating it for hours at a time.

Accelerating up to 5.5 mph, it makes short work of the largest plots. The extra-wide 42-inch cutting deck enables you to cover more ground and saves you time. This mower is designed with convenience in mind. The separate bagger accessory makes for easy clean-up, as you don’t have to comb the lawn for stray clumps of grass.

The AGM battery promises reliable starting, meaning you can feel confident it will fire up after long periods in storage. Want manicured results? Clever design features like the anti-scalp wheels help you minimize unsightly tire marks. At slightly over the 2,000 mark, it falls into the middle range of the mowers on our list, but remember to factor the bagger into the price too.

Compatible 42 Inch and 46 Inch Double Bagger This double bagger makes collecting grass clippings a breeze. It comes with 2 bags, providing ample capacity for up to 6.5 bushels. It’s suitable for other mowers with a 42 or 46-inch cutting deck, including Craftsman, Columbia, Remington, and Yard-Man products.

Reasons to avoid

The Cub Cadet XT1 is designed to be an absolute powerhouse of a riding lawn mower, making it a great choice for those with extra large lawns.

Cub Cadet XT1 scores a decent 4.0 out of 5 on the manufacturer’s website. Users were impressed with the power of the machine, with several mentioning it can handle bumpy and challenging terrain, including hills. A couple of reviewers complained about issues with the battery not holding its charge, though they were in a minority. It’s backed by a generous 3-year warranty to put your mind at rest.

With a 19-horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine, it can help you blitz through the mowing. Plus, it can even handle hills, ideal if you’re on an uneven plot. If you want a spotless finish, you’ll be pleased to know this mower is compatible with a bagger, saving you from raking unsightly clippings. This trusty machine can help with other tasks around the yard, with a range of accessories available to purchase separately, including a snow blower, mulch kit, and rear spreader.

The Cub Cadet XT1 makes for a responsive ride, thanks to a 16-inch turning radius. Plus, it spares you the effort of shifting gears with the hydrostatic transmission. simply press the pedal and go. The downsides? Some assembly is required, so you will need to factor this in. At around 2,400, the Cub Cadet XT1 isn’t the cheapest lawn mower with a bagger, but it may be worth the investment if you want maximum power.

Compatible 42 Inch and 46 Inch double bagger Eliminate the faff of raking grass clippings with this double bagger. It includes two bags with a 6.5 bushel capacity. It’s compatible with Cub Cadet XT1 and XT2 Enduro Series lawn tractors with a 42 or 46-inch mowing deck.

Reasons to avoid

If you want an upgrade for a walk-behind mower, look no further than the Troy-Bilt TB30B.

The Troy-Bilt TB30B scores a commendable 4.2 out of 5 out of 245 reviews on Home Depot. People are pleased with this model as a replacement for a push-mower, noting it’s ideal for mid-sized lawns. They are also confident in its cutting ability. A handful of reviews mention it is lightweight, which means it’s best suited to flat terrain to avoid tipping over.

This compact riding mower is similar in size to a push model, perfect for when storage space is at a premium. If you don’t want to spend a fortune on a riding mower but still want good results, the Troy-Bilt TB30B could be for you. At 1899, it’s the cheapest option on our list, ideal if you’re on a budget.

Plus, a mulching kit is included. It’s a fantastic way to return nutrients to the soil, resulting in a greener, healthier lawn. This mower is also compatible with a bagger, which you can purchase separately for sections you want to keep pristine.

As you would expect for a smaller mower, it may take you slightly longer to get the job done. The cutting deck is narrower than other options, so you may need more passes to cover the space. For that reason, it’s best suited to medium plots.

Compatible 30 Inch Double Bagger This bagger is designed for compact rear-engine riding mowers, including Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, Columbia, Remington, and Yard machines from 2013 or later. It fits a cutting deck of 30 inches and provides a capacity of 3.2 bushels. You can use this bagger to collect leaves in the fall, making it a versatile choice.

Reasons to avoid

If you’re searching for a premium model, the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 fits the bill. At around 3,800, it is a splurge, but several features justify the price tag.

The Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 has rave reviews, scoring 4.6 out of 5 with over 3,000 reviews on Home Depot. 89% of reviewers recommend this product. People love the superior performance and maneuverability of this zero-turn mower. One reviewer commented that “it turns on a dime.” The drawbacks? Several are disappointed that there is no hour meter, which makes it hard to know when to perform maintenance tasks. A few people suggest it could benefit from a gas display level too.

Thanks to a Kawasaki 23-horsepower engine, it offers impressive power. Combined with a super-sized 50-inch cutting deck, it makes light work of mowing the largest yards. This beast of a machine can tackle plots over 5 acres, including ones with slight hills.

All of this means it cuts down on mowing time, allowing you the leisure to sit back and admire your handiwork. With the help of this nippy machine, you can transform lawn maintenance from a chore into an enjoyable experience.

It doesn’t disappoint on mowing performance either. The Aeroforce cutting system was judged best-in-class according to independent testing, offering a precise, even finish. If we’re being picky, it could benefit from a few features to finish it off, like armrests and an hour meter, but overall, it’s a top-quality mower.

Compatible 50 Inch and 54 Inch Double Bagger This extra-large double bagger fits Ultima ZT1-50 and ZT1-54 zero-turn lawn mowers, offering ample room with a 6.5 bushel capacity. The hood design has been improved to provide optimal performance, delivering a neat finish.

Pros and cons of having a riding lawn mower with a bagger

If convenience is a priority, a riding lawn mower with a bagger may be a sound investment.

“When selecting a bagger, make sure that it is compatible with your riding lawn mower, and always be sure to select the bagger with the appropriate capacity. The larger the lawn, the higher the capacity.” Mark Bradley, CEO of Landscape Management Network

“Riding lawn mowers can make maintaining large patches of grass easy, but without a bagger, they can often create a larger mess than you started with. Purchasing a riding lawn mower with a bagger attachment will make picking up clippings an afterthought as they are conveniently picked up and placed in the attached plastic bin,” says Mark Bradley, CEO of Landscape Management Network (LMN).

This may be important to you if you’re on a large plot where it might not be practical to rake a huge area or if you want to minimize physical exertion. The other main reason people choose a mower with a bagger is to enhance curb appeal, as it creates a well-groomed look.

Yet, you’ll want to weigh up the pros and cons. “One of the biggest trade-offs users of baggers will have to make is not having the additional fertilizing benefit of leftover trimmings on their manicured grass. Instead, they will have to frequently use fertilizer to keep their lawn in pristine shape,” explains Mark. This means you will need to factor this into your schedule to keep your lawn healthy.

A greener option might be to purchase a separate mulching attachment. You could use this to give the grass a nutrient boost or on areas out of sight where looks are less important.

Mark Bradley, CEO of Landscape Management Network, has decades of experience in the landscape industry and is an expert on all things yard care. Before co-founding Landscape Management Network, Bradley built TBG Landscape from a backyard business into one of North America’s Top 100 landscape contracting companies.

Get the Top Ten Reviews Newsletter

The best reviews, product advice, news and more!

By submitting your information you agree to the Terms Conditions and Privacy Policy and are aged 16 or over.

Louise Bond is a UK-based writer specializing in health and wellbeing. She has over eight years of experience in management within health and care and brings this passion and expertise to her writing. Louise has been published in The Guardian, Live Science, Fit Well, Tom’s Guide, Planet Mindful, Breathe, and Psychreg. She is at her happiest when she is out in nature, whether that’s on an invigorating hike or pottering in the garden.

LG LWC3063BD Stainless Convection Double Wall Oven review

How to Mulch Leaves Without a Mower: Creative and Easy Ways

How to mulch leaves without a mower is a very interesting question we get regularly. Did you know that common gardening equipment like a weed whacker or a leaf-blowing vacuum can be used instead of a mower?

best, riding, lawn, mower

This article has compiled seven of the most innovative methods you can employ to shred leaves when your mower cannot. So without further ado, jump down below and see what these simple methods are!

How Do You Mulch Leaves Without a Mower?

To mulch leaves without a lawn mower, you can try using machines like a weed whacker, a leaf shredder, or a leaf-collecting vacuum instead. When you find nothing else, spread out the leaves over an even area and walk or drive over them.

Mulching leaves is always the better option when compared to picking them up and throwing them into the waste bin. Leaf mulch has several beneficial uses in lawn care and will help your garden flourish more. You can use it as the green component of compost or as a moisture-retentive layer on top of lawn grass.

Use a Weed Whacker

A weed wacker, also commonly known as a string trimmer, is your go-to machine instead of a mower. The main purpose of this machine is to remove weeds from the ground from the roots up using a vibrating piece of nylon string. Naturally, you can use this nylon string to mulch leaves as well.

Before going about mulching through a weed whacker, make sure everyone else is off the lawn for the time being. The vibrating string makes a lot of mess, and there will be lots of cut leaf debris flying around. Wear proper eye goggles and a face mask to prevent things from entering your eyes and mouth.

Take a large garbage bag and fill it halfway through with the leaves you have collected. Ensure to support the bin well; otherwise, it might topple over during mulching and send everything flying.

Insert the trimmer in the trash bin as low as it would go, and holding its handle steady with your hands, turn it on. The trimmer will shake with a lot of force, so be ready for that and try to keep it as near the center as possible.

The trimmer will shred the leaves to appropriate-sized pieces within two to three minutes. If there are more leaves, keep adding them to the bin in small quantities and mulch them.

The larger the trash bin, the less mess the trimmer will create. The mulched pieces will also be conveniently present within the bin, and you can either store them there or move them to the compost pile.

Drive Your Car Over Them

This is our favorite method of mulching leaves simply because it is convenient. Why do you even need a leaf mulcher if you have a car and know how to drive? Collect as many leaves as possible by placing a tarp on the ground and using a rake to move leaves over it.

After you have collected as many leaves as you like, spread them over the driveway in two or three rows. You can place them on the lawn even if you do not have a driveway. Make sure no twines, sticks, or sharp objects are present in the leaf pile as you don’t want to risk puncturing your car’s tires in the process.

best, riding, lawn, mower

Next, drive your car back and forth on the collected leaves in the driveway five to six times. If you feel more mulching is needed, mix up the pieces and drive the car over them. This is not necessary, but if you like, you can wash the tires clean before mulching leaves with them.

However, let them dry first because you cannot use wet or moist tires to turn leaves into mulch. After crunching your leaves this way, park the car at a distance and collect mulch for use elsewhere.

Use a Leaf Shredder

The whole purpose of this machine is shredding leaves and converting them to mulch. This would be a worthy investment if you regularly mulch leaves or have a large lawn that drops a ton of leaves weekly. All your neighbors can pitch in the money to buy a leaf shredder for your collected neighborhood.

The most common design of a shredder is in the form of a basket or a bin where you can place the leaves. The good news is that it comes with a fitted lid that prevents the shreds from flying in the air. Turn the shredder on for the specified time the manufacturer advises. It takes barely five minutes, and mulches leave better than a lawn mower.

Most shredders come with the option of attaching a bag under it where you can collect the shredded leaves. This would save you the trouble of collecting the mulched-up leaves by hand and the ensuing cleanup afterward.

Leaf mulchers give you several options when it comes to shredding the leaves. You can crunch leaves either very finely or coarsely. Be careful if your leaf collection usually contains pieces of twigs and woody branches or similar things. These machines are not meant to cut wood and might get damaged quickly.

Get a Leaf Vaccum

For most lawn and yard owners, a leaf cleaner or a leaf blower is a must-have gadget. It is a vacuum cleaner but only to pick up fallen leaves off the ground. Its engine produces suction, so the leaves are sucked into an elongated oval chute.

best, riding, lawn, mower

Some manufacturers are now selling leaf vacuums with a chopper attached that breaks the collected leaves into smaller pieces. At the end of the vacuum, you can attach a bag into which the shredded pieces of leaves are collected. Unfortunately, the bags that come with most vacuums in the market are quite small, and you will have to empty them repeatedly.

Even if your leaf vacuum is only a simple one, you can still use it to mulch leaves without a mower. Just vacuum the leaves up and then collect them in the bag, then use a mullet to crush the leaves present in the bag. This method might not be as effective as a leaf shredder or a lawn mower, but it still works.

Walk Over Them

Yes, you can walk all over the leaves instead of using a mulching mower. Do this several times, and the leaves will break down into smaller pieces acceptable for compost or a layer of mulch over grass. This can also be a fun activity to do with your kids or pets.

The fallen tree leaves must be dry to be crunched into smaller pieces. You must collect the leaves and have them strewn over the lawn under the sun for a day or two. This would dry them and make them easy to break under the feet. If it is to rain anytime soon, place an impenetrable tarp over the leaves to keep them from getting wet.

After the leaves have dried, walk over them for 10 to 15 minutes. Let your dog out into the lawn to help you with this task. Get your kids out and involve them in the activity too. There is no better option for mulching for those who are already into walking.

Use a Wood Chipper

If you own a wood chipper, you don’t need anything else for mulching leaves. Unfortunately, this is not something that most of us own at home. Go to your local hardware store or the gardening shop and ask them to lend theirs.

best, riding, lawn, mower

A chipper is good at producing leaf mulch, but you can also add wooden branches and twigs. This would make your mulch so much richer compared to using only leaves for the mulch.

Don’t worry about chippers being too expensive to rent regularly. All of your friends and neighbors can pitch in on this investment. It is also much more reasonable than investing in expensive equipment like leaf mulcher or blower that most stores do not usually even rent.

Purchase Some Hens

If you own hens and chickens, they will be useful when shredding leaves into mulch. Hens like to eat everything and will not leave leaves around your yard. Of course, they will only be able to eat part of the leaf as it is. The result will be leaves converted into shredded mulch.

Spread the leaves you have collected in an enclosed space within the lawn and let the hens in. You can throw their food within to encourage your hens and chickens to convert the leaves into mulch. This will attract them more to the fallen leaves.

An unexpected benefit to getting the help of hens is that they add chicken manure to the mix as well. This would convert the simple leaf mulch into a much richer mix. Once the hens are finished, shoo them off toward their coops, then collect the unevenly chewed down pieces of leaves and use them as per your wishes.

Use Your Hands

Yes, you can mulch leaves by hand, although it takes a lot of time. Mulching by hand is easier when the leaves have been thoroughly dried before mulching. Collect the leaves to be mulched and have them lay under the sun for a couple of days until they become crunchy and dry. Then just put them in a container and crush them using your hands.

best, riding, lawn, mower

To promote the decomposition of mulched leaves, mix them with nitrogen-rich ingredients. The most common and easily available lawn nitrogen source is grass clippings. Whenever you mow your lawn, collect the lawn clippings in a bag and mix them with mulched leaves to help them break down faster. This would ensure that nutrients are provided to the lawn and plants faster.


Now you know that there are a lot of great alternatives for mulching leaves if you don’t have a mower. For our final thoughts, let us recap this article on mulching collected leaves using various methods.

  • Place the leaves in a large bin one-half of the way and use a string trimmer to mulch them all within a few minutes.
  • Spread the leaves over a driveway, and either drive your car over them a few times or walk over them until they are all mulch.
  • If you have a leaf shredder or can rent a wood chipper, this would help create the best quality mulch.
  • You can also get the help of chickens and hens in shredding leaves into tiny pieces suitable for use as mulch.
  • You can even mulch leaves by hand, although this is going to take a lot of time. Just make sure that the leaves are dry and crunchy when you do this.

Quickly refer back to this article the next time a lawn mower isn’t available when it’s time to convert leaves into proper mulch. See which of the methods that we have discussed you like best and use it for a creative outcome.

Top 10 Tips for Lawn Mowing Mulching

best, riding, lawn, mower

Whether you are maintaining your residential lawn or providing the landscaping for a commercial property, everyone knows that the grass is always greener where you put the work in. That may not be the standard quote, but it tells the truth about lawn maintenance. One of the best ways to fertilize and feed your grass is to let your grass clippings do the work for you. We’ve gathered some of the top tips for understanding and using a mulching mower or mulching kit for your lawn mower along with some ways that John Deere can help you achieve the best mulch for your lawn.

  • If possible, make sure your grass is dry when you are using your mulching mower.
  • Make sure you sharpen your mower blades before cutting. The sharp blades will give you the quality cut you need.
  • When looking to fertilize with mulch clippings, raise your blades to take no more than the top third of the grass blade. This means that when the seasons are such that your grass is growing more quickly, you will need to mow more often.
  • Using your lawn mower for mulching will help feed your lawn and reduce the amount of fertilizer you will need to apply. Each blade of grass or piece of leaf is full of nutrients that when left in place, can improve the overall health of your soil and even help reduce weeds. This combination of the coverage of mulch and the health of the soil increases the soil’s ability to hold more water. This allows any water applied through irrigation or rain to be more likely to stay put, making your soil or turf more resistant to swings in temperature and drought conditions.
  • The nutrients will be good for your soil, and by leaving your lawn clippings and leaves in place, this practice eliminates the process of needing to bag and carry your clippings to the curb or compost pile.
  • Mulching is good for the environment because it keeps grass clippings out of landfills. According to the EPA, yard trimmings make up approximately 13 percent (or 28 million tons) of the national waste stream. Grass clippings account for two-thirds of all yard waste.
  • If you have tall or wet grass conditions, it is best to use a side-discharge model, like the MulchControl TM System from John Deere to mitigate unsightly clumps of grass.
  • Leaves should be mowed frequently as they fall to keep them from smothering your lawn. To finely chop leaves as you mulch, you should make two or more mowing passes with your mower each time you mow to speed up the composting process.
  • While lawns benefit from clippings, they don’t want to be smothered by them. Using best mowing practices can leave grass with room to breathe and looking as clean as it would with bagging. Using a mulching lawn mower that is designed for mulching will give you the best results.

What is a mulching lawn mower?

A mulching mower is a machine where the mowing deck and blade will chop the grass multiple times before the grass falls to the lawn. This will provide more finely cut grass that can decompose and provide nutrients for the soil.

If you have or want to purchase a standard lawn mower, you can also convert your equipment into a mulching lawn mower with a mulching kit.

What is a mulching kit?

The standard lawn mower deck, where the mower covers the blades has a side chute that pushes grass clippings onto the lawn or into an attached bag. A mulching kit will alter the blades to chop the grass clippings into the smaller pieces needed for decomposing. Each kit will include a set of blades, a plug, and the hardware you will need to attach the kit to your mower. You can use and modify a mower by adding mulching blades without an actual mulching kit, but the difference in deck sizes and trying to block the funnel and close the discharge chute can be hard to modify on your own. This can cause the grass to build up beneath the deck if it is not installed, aligned, and covered correctly

John Deere MulchControl Kits include pull-of-a-lever technology and are available on S240 Riding Mowers with Accel Deep Mower Decks, Select Series Mowers, Signature Series Mowers, and all Residential ZTrak Mowers. Each kit includes mulching blades for best grass mulching results.

Eduardo Ruiz, Jr. grew up in the farming industry and is a lifelong resident of the Watsonville/Salinas area. As account manager, he focuses on both consumer products and compact construction equipment sales for both new and used equipment. ‘Eddie’ works out of the Watsonville store but serves as an account manager for the RDO Equipment Co. store in Salinas as well.

A Cut Above

From mowers and trimmers to tractors and more, our experts can help you get the job done. Contact Sales

Why You Should Mulch Leaves, Not Rake Them

Tom Oder is a writer, editor, and communication expert who specializes in sustainability and the environment with a sweet spot for urban agriculture.

best, riding, lawn, mower

  • Share
  • Email

It’s the annual fall dilemma. The leaves that have fallen on the lawn need to be removed, but there are more on the trees. Should you rake them up now or wait until the limbs are bare?

Neither! Bag the rake, not the leaves.

Instead of raking leaves, stuffing them into lawn bags and hauling the bags to the curb, mow them with a mulching mower — a lawnmower with a specially designed high deck and a mulching blade that chops leaves into fragments as tiny as confetti. As the shredded leaves decompose, they will act as a natural fertilizer and weed control agent.

For those who insist on a spotless lawn year-round and might be concerned about what the neighbors will think of the brown leaf bits the mower leaves behind, don’t worry. The shredded leaves will filter through the grass and disappear from sight. In northern lawns that go dormant or in grasses such as Bermuda or zoysia that turn a dormant brown color in winter, the shredded leaves may even blend right in. Better yet, if you continue this practice each fall, in a few years mulching can help you have a luscious spring and summer lawn free of dandelions and crabgrass that will be the envy of people up and down the street.

Here’s a guide on how to take advantage of autumn leaves, the best free resource for your lawn.

The problem with fall leaves

Leaves that are not removed from your lawn block sunlight and air from reaching the grass. The problem becomes worse when it rains or there are early snows that turn fluffy layers of leaves into soggy mats. The lack of light and air circulation can cause turf diseases or, in a worst-case scenario, may even smother the grass and kill it.

The answer

best, riding, lawn, mower

Homeowners can easily solve this problem with a mulching mower. “Mulching mowers are designed with a high deck and are shaped so that the mulching blade spins leaves and grass more than once as it cuts them into small pieces,” said Kevin Morris, president of the National Turfgrass Federation. Just change the mower to its highest setting, remove the bag attachment and mow the leaves and grass, letting the shredded leaves and grass blades remain on the lawn. If you don’t have a mulching mower, an alternative is to buy a mulching blade from a hardware store a — mulching blades have special serrated edges — and attach it to the mower. Morris cautions, though, that regular lawn mowers may not shred leaves as well as a mulching mower because regular mowers may not re-circulate leaves inside the deck the way that mulching mowers do. Mowers with side shoots or old-fashioned push mowers can be used, but also are not as effective in shredding leaves into small pieces as mulching mowers. If you use a landscaping service, ask them to use a mulching mower in the fall and not bag the leaves.

When to mulch

The optimum time to shred fallen leaves is when you can still see some grass poking up through them. Depending on the number and size of trees on your property — or your neighbor’s — you may need to mow your yard more than once a week. Studies by turf grass specialists at Michigan State University show that up to six inches of leaves can be mulched at one time, depending on the type of mower you have. There’s also a common sense approach about when to mulch. If the leaves are so thick that they make mowing difficult, you may need to add the bag attachment or even rake them. You can also put the bag attachment on a mulching mower and spread mulched leaves on landscape and vegetable beds.

What not to do

Don’t wait until spring to mulch leaves and spread them on landscaped beds. If you place leaves on garden beds in the fall, they will biodegrade almost completely, if not completely, by spring. If, on the other hand, leaves are not placed on garden beds until spring, the decomposition process will compete with plants for nutrients just when the plants need it most, to make energy to produce the flowers you’ve waited all winter to enjoy!

Why mulching works

Micro-organisms that live in the soil beak down organic material such as leaves. Worms get in on the action, too. The roots of some grasses such as fescue can grow slowly in the fall and a mild winter and the decaying action of mulched leaves left on the yard will provide these roots with nutrients. Mulched leaves will biodegrade and disappear from the lawn by spring. The same type of activity with micro-organisms and worms that is happening in the lawn area is also happening in landscape and vegetable beds.


best, riding, lawn, mower

Shredding leaves with a mulching mower will save homeowners time and money. Mulching is faster and far easier on the back than raking. It’s also easier on the wallet. The decomposing leaves and grass cover the soil between the individual grass plants where weeds can germinate. MSU studies found that homeowners can attain a nearly 100% decrease in dandelions and crabgrass after mulching fall leaves for just three years. In addition to reducing the occurrence of weeds and the need to spend money on weed control products, mulched leaves keep the soil warmer in winter and cooler in summer and the nutrients provided by mulching reduce the amount and expense of fertilizer need to achieve green-up in the spring.

Bonus tip

If you are using a side-discharge mower, begin mowing on the outside edge of your lawn, making sure that you shoot the leaves toward the middle of the yard. Mowing in this pattern also allows you to mow over the leaves more than once and keeps them from ending up on sidewalks, driveways and the road. If the leaves are still in fairly large pieces after your first pass, go back over the lawn at a right angle to your first cut.

Other options

Depending on how many hardwoods you or your neighbors have, you can use leaf blowers to blow leaves into landscaped beds or use a lawn vacuum to vacuum up leaves. Leaf vacuums will produce finely chopped leaves that are excellent for placing in flower or vegetable beds. When spreading leaves in garden beds, be careful not to smother ground covers.

Whatever you do, don’t let fall leaves get away. Use them somewhere in your landscape!

| Denial of responsibility | Contacts |RSS | DE | EN | CZ