Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Reviews 2023. Riding mower with mulcher

Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Reviews 2023

Deciding on the best self-propelled lawn mower isn’t as easy as it used to be. Do you need commercial or residential quality? Do you want to use gas or batteries for power? How much grass do you need to cut? Are you a mulcher or a bagger?

Having tested dozens of the best walk-behind lawn mowers from entry-level residential to the top professional models, we got our Pro team together to choose our top mowers in a range of scenarios.

One of the big things changing in the market is Honda’s announcement that the brand is exiting the lawn mower market. While you can still buy Honda mowers until they run out of stock, 2023 marks the end of production. We still highly recommend them, but due to the news and iffy availability, we’re not considering Honda as part of our choices this year.

Want to see more, including ride-on and robotic recommendations? Read out Best Lawn Mower Reviews main article!

Best Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower

Commercial: Exmark Commercial X-Series Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

As we bid adieu to Honda this year, the HRC series still gets two thumbs up from us while you can get them. From there, we turn to Exnark and its Commercial X line that complements its Lazer Z zero-turn mowers well. Some professionals will certainly turn to the higher-capacity 30-inch model, but we expect the 21-inch model will find its way onto more trailers.

Exmark wisely uses a Honda 163cc GXV engine with a legendary reputation for reliability. It’s fed by a generous 1-gallon fuel tank and turns the blade at tip speeds up to 18,500 fpm. There’s also an option for a Kawasaki FJ180V engine if you’d like to step up to a 179cc engine.

The deck is 1/4-inch aluminum construction that keeps the weight down (112 pounds) while maintaining high durability. The deck is adjustable from 4.5 inches on the high side all the way down to 1 inch while the drive runs at speeds up to 4.2 MPH.

Residential: Toro Super Recycler Series 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

Toro runs deep in the residential lawn mower sector and our favorite among them is the Super Recycler series. Getting the best of all the technology Toro has to offer, our top recommendation (model 21565) includes the Personal Pace drive system and the Smart Stow design that allows you to vertically store the mower even though it’s a gas model.

It uses a 163cc Briggs Stratton engine that produces 7.25 ft-lbs of torque and just under 17,000 fpm blade tip speed.

Toro touts a commercial-grade construction on this model and includes a lighter aluminum deck rather than steel. In addition to that, you get outstanding cut quality, especially on the mulching side (you better with the name Super Recycler!). Wrapping it up, the Personal Pace drive system adjusts to your walking pace so there are no levers or dials to adjust.

Best Self-Propelled Electric Lawn Mower

Just a few years ago, if you wanted to find the best battery-powered lawn mower, you could only find residential models. Now, there’s an emerging class of professional-grade options and we have picks for both Pros and homeowners.

Professional: Milwaukee M18 Fuel 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

There aren’t many true commercial self-propelled lawn mowers with lithium-ion power sources. Milwaukee launched their effort in 2022 with a monstrous 10 ft-lbs of torque that tops what you typically see from a 200cc gas engine. It’s more than just muscle, though. Its blade and deck combine to handle mulching and bagging better than most.

As you roll into fall, the mower’s high-lift mode keeps the blades at 3300 RPM to help pull those lightweight leaves and clean up your lawn. Other features include 180° LED lighting, LED battery indicators facing you, variable speed thumb bar (in addition to the speed wheel), a durable build, and much more.

Price: 1099.00 with two 12.0Ah batteries and dual-port Rapid charger

Residential: EGO Select Cut XP 21-Inch Lawn Mower with Speed IQ

The evolution of EGO’s flagship mower is interesting. It started with the dual-battery Peak Power model that raised the bar of what lithium-ion is capable of. Then, we saw the first stacked-blade SelectCut options that improved cut quality and effectiveness in tall grass. The two technologies combined in the SelectCut XP. Now EGO adds Speed IQ to the mix.

Speed IQ is a self-propelled drive system that automatically adjusts to your pace. However, it’s not a spring-loaded set of handles like Toro uses on its Personal Pace models. Instead, there’s a sensor doing some serious engineering magic… and it works like a charm from our brief time with it at Equip Expo 2022 (formerly GIE).

Price: 599.00 bare, 999.00 with a 12.0Ah battery and Turbo charger

Best Large Walk-Behind Lawn Mower

Commercial: Greenworks Commercial 30-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

Can a battery-powered commercial mower really displace gas models? Greenworks Commercial has an 82V 30-inch model that got our attention at the Equip Expo in late 2022, and it’s hard to ignore as a legitimate option. It has the power to replace a 200cc gas engine with blade speeds up to 16,000 FPM. On a full charge, it can cover up to 2 acres.

There are drive system features worth considering as well. Independent hub wheel motors engage what Greenworks calls the Easy Turn System (ETS), making the mower easier to maneuver. Another big deal is that there is a powered reverse function—something that’s incredibly helpful with the weight of mowers in this class. The controls are all up next to your hands and there’s even a display to help you keep track of your battery levels.

Price: 1999.99 bare, 2999.99 with three 8Ah batteries and a dual-port charger

Residential: Toro TimeMaster 30-inch Personal Pace Mower

With 10 ft-lbs of torque delivered from its Briggs Stratton 223cc engine, the 30-inch Toro TimeMaster is our pick as the best large walk-behind lawn mower. Not only does it deliver big power to turn its time-saving 30-inch blade, but it also features Toro’s Personal Pace self-propelled drive and Spin-Stop that lets you stop the blade without shutting off the mower.

It all adds up to big-time savings on larger lawns. Grab model 21200 if you want an electric start or the 21199 if you don’t mind a recoil start and want to save 100.

Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower for the Money

Toro’s 21-inch Recycler (21352) offers an excellent value for budget-minded homeowners. It’s a Made in the USA rear-wheel drive system powered by a Briggs Stratton 140cc engine. It comes ready to mulch, bag, or side discharge and you don’t have to worry about changing the oil. Just check the levels and add more when it’s necessary.

Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Brand

No one in the self-propelled lawn mower market dominates like Honda. Their engines enjoy a reputation for quality and durability every other manufacturer is shooting for, and their mowers are simply outstanding.

They typically run at a premium, though. Both Honda mowers and Honda-powered mowers are more expensive than similar designs from other brands. The big kick in the pants is Honda leaving the market, though.

That opens the door for Toro. There are a lot of Toro models we recommend for good reason and hit a wide range from budget-friendly homeowner mowers to commercial zero turns. It’s one of the best-selling brands of walk-behind mowers.

Best Riding Lawn Mowers 2023 | Top 5 Best Riding Lawn Mowers 2023

Getting hard sales figures is tough to come by, and it’s always possible we missed the mark. However, we see more Honda and Toro walk-behind mowers on commercial trailers and residential lawns than any other brand.

Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower for Bagging

You don’t have to ditch your current self-propelled lawn mower and buy a whole new one to improve your bagging efficiency. In most cases, adding a high-lift blade to your current mower will make a significant difference. With the exception of electric mowers, you don’t need to worry too much about matching the brand making the blade, but you do need to match the arbor style and the length. The package should tell you which brands it is compatible with.

If you’re still in the market for a new mower, higher RPMs make for better airflow and bagging. Check mowers with a 160cc or higher engine and compare the top blade speeds. You can always swap blades, but you can’t change the speed.

Pro Tip: If you have a 2-point or 4-point deck height adjustment, set the front wheels of your mower one notch higher than the rear to improve bagging.

Best Self-Propelled Mulching Lawn Mower

Similar to a high-lift blade for bagging, you can improve your mulching efficiency with a mulching-specific blade. These usually have additional cutting edges that cut the clippings more times before they drop back into the grass. Keeping the blade sharp ensures you get the best mulching results every time you mow.

If you’re in the market for a new mower, look for a 160cc or higher engine to give you the torque you need to keep your blade speed high in thicker grass. Remember, you can always add a mulching blade, but you can’t make up for an underpowered engine.

Pro Tip: You get the best mulching results if you’re only taking an inch or two off the top of your grass, so make sure you stay on top of lawn maintenance during the peak cutting season.

Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower – Priorities

Best Rear-Wheel Drive Self-Propelled Lawn Mower for Hills: YBravo Gen II 25-inch Commercial Mower

After running into issues with other commercial walk-behind mowers, we turned to YBravo 25-inch commercial mower to take care of a 3-acre soggy field that our ZTs only bogged down in. Its Kawasaki 180cc engine kept the blade turning where others simply stalled.

When it’s time to move out of the radio station swamp and you’re going for a more professional look, its cut quality is excellent as well. Available in a 21-inch and the 25-inch model we tested, Ybravo is worth serious consideration.

If you have a Bad Boy dealer closer to you, check out the same model sold under the Bad Boy brand name.

Best All-Wheel Drive Self-Propelled Lawn Mower: Toro 22-inch Personal Pace All-Wheel Drive Mower 21472

AWD mowers are what you turn to for work on slopes and uneven terrain where it’s possible to have a wheel or two lose traction. For the best all-wheel drive self-propelled lawn mower, we like the Toro 21472 Personal Pace model.

Its 22-inch deck is on the larger size of standard mowers and the Personal Pace system is easy to work with once you get used to it. If you switch between mulching and bagging, the mower’s lever system is super simple.

Packing plenty of power with its 163cc Briggs Stratton engine, it’s not so much that it destroys the competition. It’s that its performance is excellent and the innovations are genuinely helpful while keeping its price in check.

Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Recommendations

Not every mower earns an award, but there are several other models we recommend that didn’t find a place earlier in the article. Check these options out if one of the others doesn’t fit your needs.

Best Lawn Mower Buying Guide – What We Look For

Gas vs Battery

Gas power still wins the day when you’re highest priorities are keeping your purchase price down and your power level high. With advancements in battery and motor technology, the OPE world is shifting towards battery power, though. It’s cleaner and quieter to run and requires less maintenance.

However, you have to look at premium models to get true gas power, and runtime can be a limiting factor. It’s also less likely you have a service center nearby that can get you back up and running quickly if there’s a problem.

If your lawn is a 1/4-acre or less, there are a lot of battery-powered options available. Once you get beyond that size, you need to consider how many batteries you’ll need and legitimate options really start to thin out once you hit 1/2 an acre. With larger lawns, newer battery-powered zero turn mowers are a legitimate option.

Take a deeper look at the comparison between gas and battery power in this article.

Commercial vs Residential

This might be better titled “professional vs homeowner” considering there are both commercial and residential professional crews. Regardless, commercial mowers are built with better components and commercial engines, creating a machine that is built to last for years of high-hour daily use.

If you’re a homeowner mowing once a week or so, a good residential mower can still last for 5 or 10 years (or more) if you take care of it. It just uses components and engine designs better fit for occasional use.

Engine Size and Cutting Power

If you stay on top of your mowing and cut quality isn’t a high priority, an engine as small as 140cc is likely fine.

Move up to the 160cc–180cc class for better performance when the grass is thicker and taller, or when you want to make sure you get excellent mulching, bagging, and/or clean cuts. The greater power improves lift and is less likely to bog down in thick patches.

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When you’re looking at deck sizes beyond 22 inches, you should start looking for engines in the 180cc–200cc range (or higher) to ensure it can keep the RPMs high while it’s cutting such a large swath.

Cut Quality

We look for three major components of cut quality: evenness, mulching size, and bagging efficiency.

Evenness is pretty straightforward. When we’re testing, we look for grass blades that weren’t cut and indications that there wasn’t enough lift to clip all of the blades at the same level.

When mulching, smaller clippings are better since they drop down closer to the base of the remaining grass. We also look to see if a mower is prone to leaving trails and clumps.

For bagging, it’s all about how much grass is collected, if the chute tends to clog while we’re cutting, and how much grass is deposited back to the ground.

Noise Level

One of the major benefits of battery-powered mowers is the lower noise levels compared to gas, but that doesn’t mean gas mowers have to be obnoxious. We expect higher levels than battery-powered models and that is typically the case.

When we test noise levels, we measure from our operator’s ear to get an idea of what the person using the mower should expect. Even though some mowers are quieter than others, we still recommend hearing protection when you’re using a gas model.

Fuel Efficiency

How efficient gas mowers use fuel has a very direct effect on your wallet, especially when you’re mowing every day as a Pro.

Fuel efficiency testing is more than just a runtime calculation. The cutting swath of a mower comes into play, especially on those 25 and 30-inch models. With larger lawns, it’s possible to get more cutting done per gallon of gas with an engine that uses more gas per hour.

Deck Size

21 or 22 inches is pretty standard for most mowers. Jumping up to a 25-inch or 30-inch mower may seem tempting, but it’s not for everyone.

If your lawn is a 1/4-acre or less, the time you gain with a larger deck might not mean a whole lot of time savings. Where you really gain some time is on lawns that are a 1/2-acre or more.

Keep in mind, larger deck-size mowers are heavier. When you have to mow wet or soggy areas, the weight can work against you.

Best Self Propelled Lawn Mowers in 2023 (Top 10 Picks)

Steel vs Plastic (Poly) Deck

The vast majority of gas mowers have steel decks while battery-powered models have a much higher percentage of plastic poly decks.

Those poly plastic decks are tougher than they look, but they probably won’t hold up as well as steel in the long run. It’s still highly unlikely that you’ll wear through one before it’s time to replace the mower, though.

However, there’s a whole lot more design flexibility that comes with poly decks, and engineers can do some amazing things to help with airflow that directly affects cut quality along with bagging and mulching efficiency.

Deck Height

Here in Florida, we have a lot of St. Augustine grass that we cut at 3 1/2 inches, so we prefer a mower that has at least a 4-inch maximum deck height.

Depending on what species of grass you have, you might be able to get away with a lower height, but 4 inches is a good all-around benchmark.

best, self-propelled, lawn, mower, reviews, 2023

On the low end, most of us aren’t cutting golf course greens (you’d use a reel mower for that, anyway), so the minimum deck height usually isn’t an issue.

However, if you use a blade that dethatches or scalps for maintenance or re-seeding, you might want to make sure the deck height gets low enough—typically 1 1/2 inches or less.

Height Adjustment

Single-point height adjustments are the easiest since you can raise or lower the deck with just one lever. It’s common on battery-powered lawn mowers, but not so much on their heavier gas counterparts.

Part of that is because the single-point mechanisms tend to introduce additional flex into the system and the weight of a gas mower puts more strain on the mechanism. So while we generally prefer single-point, we understand why gas mowers may opt away from them.

Pro Tip: Set the front wheels one notch higher than the rear wheels to improve bagging efficiency on 4-point or 2-point adjustable mowers.

Adjustment Levels

If you’re really OCD, more height adjustments mean more precise cutting. Realistically, most of us are going to find a good height on any mower as long as it hits the maximum and minimum heights we mow at.

Setting the Speed

The type of speed adjustment your self-propelled lawn mower has can make or break your experience. There are pull levers, thumb push levers, full push bars (Toro’s Personal Pace), and iterations on those.

Try it at the dealer before you buy it. If you hate working the mechanism for a couple of minutes, imagine what it’s going to feel like after 30 minutes or an hour.

Front-Wheel Drive, Rear-Wheel Drive, or All-Wheel Drive?

Front-wheel drive lawn mowers are typically the least expensive and work well for even terrain. They also help you turn the easiest since you lift up the drive wheels as you make your turns.

Rear-wheel drive mowers add some cost but create better traction on hills and slopes. They’re particularly good at pushing the mower’s weight uphill where front-wheel drives start to lose traction as they try to pull the weight.

All-wheel drive mowers are the most expensive and generally do the best job on hills, slopes, and uneven terrain. On particularly bumpy areas where it’s likely one or more wheels will lose traction, it’s the best bet.

Wheel Size

Larger wheels tend to handle bumps and uneven terrain better than smaller wheels according to manufacturers. However, it’s a claim that Consumer Reports says isn’t really the case.

Electric Start

If you’ve used a gas engine, there’s a good chance you’ve worn out your arm pulling the cord to start it. There’s no doubt that having an electric start on your mower can take away a lot of the frustration.

It won’t make up for poor maintenance, though. A well-maintained mower starts easily on the first or second pull. That begs the question as to whether the electric start is worth an extra hundred dollars.

It’s totally up to you, but if it’s in the budget, we want it.

Mulch, Bag, or Side/Rear Discharge?

Most quality mowers are 3-in-1, meaning you can bag, mulch, or side/rear discharge. Less expensive models often only provide options for bagging and mulching. Which one you choose depends on what type of grass you have, how fast it grows, and your personal preference.

In central Florida where St. Augustine, Zoysia, and Bahia dominate our landscapes, the summer heat and rains make our grass grow incredibly fast. Most of us mulch out of necessity since we almost need a dumpster for the volume of clippings we create.

Handle Positions

Most lawn mowers have 3 handle positions you can set. For tall guys like me or average-height guys like Clint, it helps you find a more comfortable grip. Some mowers opt for 2, or sometimes just 1 handle position.


Value is more than just price. We take a broad look at the performance and features compared to the price to determine the value of each mower.

Why You Can Trust Pro Tool Reviews

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That’s not us. We only recommend what we’d actually use, even if we don’t earn a commission from it. It’s all about giving you a legitimate recommendation and our honest opinion of each product.

We’ve been in business since 2008 covering tools, writing reviews, and reporting on industry news in the construction, automotive, and lawn care industries. Our Pro reviewers work in the trades and have the skills and experience to know whether tools can perform well in the field.

Each year, we bring in and review more than 250 individual products. Our team will put our hands on hundreds of additional tools at media events and trade shows throughout the year.

We consult with innovators in the technology and design of tools to gain a broader grasp of where these products fit and how they work.

We work with more than two dozen professional contractors around the United States who review products for us on real job sites and consult with us on testing methods, categories, and weighting.

We’ll provide more than 500 pieces of new content this year absolutely free for our readers—including objective evaluations of individual tools and products.

The end result is information you can trust because of the editorial, scientific, and real-world professional experience we collectively utilize each and every time we pick up and test a tool.

How to Mulch Leaves with a Lawn Mower

This article was co-authored by Grant Wallace. Grant Wallace is a Landscaper and Owner of Grantlanta Lawn in Atlanta, Georgia. With over seven years of experience, he specializes in lawn maintenance and landscape installation. In 2012, he earned his BA from the University of West Georgia. Grant has been profiled in Shoutout Atlanta, Canvas Rebel, and Voyage ATL.

This article has been viewed 55,385 times.

If you allow fallen leaves to remain on your lawn without raking them away or mulching them using the mower, they can suffocate your lawn by depriving it of light and air. Mulching fallen leaves with a lawn mower helps to provide a nutritious, protective mulch for the grass, clear unsightly leaves, and stops the leaf litter suffocating the lawn. All things considered. mulching is good garden practice!

Mulching the Leaves

    If you want to leave the leaf mulch on the lawn to improve your grass, take the grass catcher or bag off the lawn mower, being very careful of the blade.
    If you plan to remove the leaf mold for use elsewhere, consider raking the leaves up into a smaller area. That way, after mowing you will have less area to cover when gathering the leaf mold.

Set the mower to a height of three inches and mow over the leaves. You’ll want to cut the leaves into pieces about the size of a dime. [1] X Research source You may need to pass the mower over the leaves several times to achieve this. Try making the second pass at right angles to the first.

    If the mulch is still too thick on your lawn, try reattaching your grass catcher or bag and passing over it again – this will gather up some of the mulch.

Feed your lawn at the same time as mulching. It’s a good idea to feed your lawn at the same time as mulching it – you’ll notice the difference in springtime. A winter blend fertilizer is a good choice in the fall. These fertilizers that have a high proportion of potassium relative to other ingredients. [2] X Research source

Using the Leaf Mulch

Understand why leaf mold makes a good mulch. Leaf mold is a good garden mulch as it is freely available and breaks down easily, as well as offering all the properties of a regular mulch, such as keeping weeds down, protecting the plant roots through colder months, and keeping moisture in the soil.

Decide how to use your leaf mulch. You have two choices when it comes to using your leaf mulch. Either leave it in place on the lawn, where it will help to improve the lawn, or rake it up or catch it in the grass catcher on your mower and use it elsewhere in the garden. You can use leaf mulch over any kind of plant, hedge or shrub.

  • Although fallen leaves will mulch the lawn naturally, mulching the with the mower helps them to break down (decompose) faster, especially if they are mixed in with grass clippings. This will happen naturally if you use a mower to make the mulch.
  • Fall is a good time to do this, as the leaf mulch will also protect the grass roots over winter.
  • If you are replacing a mulch layer from the previous year, remove any old mulch before you apply a fresh layer.
  • Leaf mulch is also good for adding to the compost heap.

Expert QA

Grant Wallace is a Landscaper and Owner of Grantlanta Lawn in Atlanta, Georgia. With over seven years of experience, he specializes in lawn maintenance and landscape installation. In 2012, he earned his BA from the University of West Georgia. Grant has been profiled in Shoutout Atlanta, Canvas Rebel, and Voyage ATL.

Start by blowing out all the beds and any areas that your mower can’t reach so the leaves are all in a mower-accessible part of your yard. Then, install mulching blades and head out in your mower. Afterwards, you can take your blower and make sure there are no chunks left in the leaf piles.

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Mulching vs Side Discharge: Which One Wins As The Best Lawn Mower?

Mulching vs side discharge compares the two most commonly used lawnmowers today. On the one hand, you have mulching mowers that can mulch and fertilize grass while cutting it simultaneously.

On the other hand, you have side discharge ones that allow you to cut wet, long grass and cover a large area. Find out the basic differences between both of them in this well-researched guide.

  • Mulching vs Side Discharge Comparison Table
  • What Is The Difference Between Mulching and Side Discharge?
  • What Are The Characteristics Of Mulching Mowers?
  • – Serves As a Fertilizer
  • – Needs Less Cleanup Afterwards
  • – Safer Than Side Discharge
  • – Makes The Grass Look Lush
  • – Not Good for Wet or Long Grass
  • – Mows Large Areas Quickly
  • – Can Be Used On All Soil Types
  • – Works Even On Wet and Tall Grass
  • – Less Frequent Mowing Needed
  • – Side Discharge Is Very Messy
  • – Waste Of Grass Clippings
  • – Should You Mulch Every Time You Mow?
  • – Do You Have To Mow Slower When Mulching?
  • – Will Mulching Weeds Spread Them?
  • – Why Does My Mulching Mower Leave Clumps Of Grass?

What Is The Difference Between Mulching and Side Discharge?

The main difference between mulching and side discharge is that mulching types have curved blades that cut grass into very small pieces. There is no opening for discharging the lawn cuttings. A side discharge has an opening through which it throws the clippings out.

What Are The Characteristics Of Mulching Mowers?

Some important characteristics of mulching are that it serves as an effective fertilizer. needs less clean up, and makes for a healthier lawn.

– Serves As a Fertilizer

Mulching blades help you to fertilize your lawn while you mow it simultaneously. What happens is that they cut off the grass finely, and then the cut grass moves into the cutting deck. where it is chopped up into different finer pieces.

These very finely cut pieces of grass are then strewn across the lawn while the mower moves from one end to another. These are naturally rich in nitrogen and serve as organic mulch and fertilizer.

Because they are cut into such small pieces, they get decomposed in a short amount of time. In many ways, this natural fertilizer works much better than any organic fertilizer. What is even better is that these clippings are laid down in a neat little layer that does not ruin the overall look of the lawn.

– Needs Less Cleanup Afterwards

Unless you live someplace very windy, using mulching types of blades will need very little cleanup after mowing. If tall buildings surround your lawn, then the mulch clippings will be automatically prevented from being blown away by strong winds.

The grass cuttings laid over the lawn by these blades are pretty neat and do not give a rough appearance. However, if you still want to clean up your lawn after mowing. that is quite easy.

over, these mowers have the option of turning off the mulching mode as well. You can simply choose to collect the grass clippings instead of converting them into mulch or discharging it from the side.

– Safer Than Side Discharge

These mower blades are much safer compared to side discharge blades. This mower keeps all the clippings contained under the body of the mower.

This means no more cut grass pieces flying off the sides. This is handy when people and pets are around, and you do not want pieces of grass going into their eyes.

– Makes The Grass Look Lush

Using mulching blades to mow the lawn and simultaneously spread grass clippings as mulch over it will make your lawn lusher. Mulch acts as an organic layer over the entire lawn, which prevents excessive water from evaporating. In fact, mulch can help retain as much as 80 percent of water. compared to grass that is not covered by mulch.

So basically, these grass cuttings not only help retain water but provide nutrition as well. You will notice your grass becoming greener and lusher than ever.

However, remember that only grass varieties with wide blades take kindly to being mulched. Do research on what grass variety you have growing on your lawn and whether you should mulch it or not.

– Not Good for Wet or Long Grass

Mulching mowers are not suitable for cutting wet grass. When cut into small pieces by such blades, wet grass gets stuck inside the cutting deck and is not discharged by the mower.

Unless you clean the deck after each use, these wet and clumped-up clippings will also affect the efficient working of the mower blades.

over, the curved end of the mulching blade does not give it the freedom to cut very long grass either. Again, using this blade to cut long grass will lead to the deck clogged and random long pieces of grass collecting patches over the lawn.

What Are The Characteristics of Side Discharge?

Some important characteristics of side discharge are that it can quickly mow grass in very large areas of land, is suitable for all soil types, and, most importantly, will even cut tall and moist grass.

– Mows Large Areas Quickly

A side discharge mower is great for mowing lawns that are large in size. This mower will do the work much faster if you allow the cut grass to blow in various directions.

This mower is much faster because it does not have to spend time converting cut grass into mulch. The mower just keeps cutting ahead with its sharp blades and discharging the cut pieces on the side in a very short amount of time.

– Can Be Used On All Soil Types

A discharge mower has the great advantage of working on all soils, lawns, and grass types. Do not worry about it if your lawn is made up of a mostly sandy type of lawn.

Still, the grass blades need to be taller if this mower is to cut them efficiently. You will find it hard to mow grass that does not grow very tall.

The surface of the lawn is also better flat or smooth for discharge to work properly. Otherwise, the grass will get cut up unevenly.

– Works Even On Wet and Tall Grass

Compared to mulching mowers, discharge ones are very effective against wet or tall grass. This is because they have an opening on the side from which the lawn clippings get thrown out. These wet or long clippings will not get stuck within the blades or cutting deck.

best, self-propelled, lawn, mower, reviews, 2023

This is good news for you because you will not have to clean your mower after each use. You will also not have to wait for the rainwater or the early morning dew to dry before embarking on lawn mowing.

If you do not have time for regular lawn care or your grass seems to grow tall quickly, then this is the mower you need to have. The shape of the side discharge blade allows you to cut wet and tall grass easily compared to that of a mulching type of blade.

– Less Frequent Mowing Needed

A discharge mower will save a lot of time because less frequent mowing will be needed. Firstly, this is because it can mow very tall grass without any risk of it getting choked up. The grass can grow tall whenever you are busy and then be easily cut off when you get the time for it.

Secondly, the side-discharge mowers are designed so that their blades can cut very close to the ground. For grasses that can be mowed low, this is very useful.

You can mow them as low as possible and take a break until the grass grows again. We are sure that those who live hectic lives or are not that invested in constant lawn care will be very happy with this feature.

– Side Discharge Is Very Messy

Side discharge basically works by splattering grass clippings several feet away from the mower. Because of how the blades work, these clippings are strewn in all directions, making your lawn look messy.

Walls and fence that might be lining the lawn will get their fair share of grass splatters. If wet grass is cut, it will literally stick to any surrounding boundary or car parked alongside the lawn or the turf.

You will also have to ensure no one is around when cutting grass with side-discharge lawn mowers. Humans and pets might cut grass into their eyes, which can be quite harmful.

– Waste Of Grass Clippings

Honestly, using side discharge instead of mulching mowers seems like a waste of grass cuttings. The grass cut by side-discharge type blades is much too large to serve as an effective fertilizer.

over, these clippings are randomly strewn over the lawn and serve no purpose. In fact, they sometimes look so bad that they need to be removed from the lawn after mowing.

Some of the latest mower types allow you to bag grass clippings and store them. This will save you from cleaning the lawn after mowing, but you will still have to deal with the bagged clippings by yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

– Should You Mulch Every Time You Mow?

It is unnecessary to mulch your grass every time you mow, but it is beneficial. Mulching types of mowers are great because they give you the option of either turning cut grass into mulch or bagging it for any other use.

If you mulch grass every time you mow, you will see a great improvement in the condition of the lawn. A layer of mulch will help retain more moisture during hot days. decompose quickly, and turn into fertilizer.

– Do You Have To Mow Slower When Mulching?

Yes, you have to mow slower when mulching grass while mowing. A mulching-type blade must cut grass clippings multiple times to become a worthy mulching material. Naturally, it cannot do so if you use the mower at a very high speed.

With this mower, you need to go slowly also because it gets clogged up easily. Grass cuttings have no escape when the side discharge opening is closed. If you are going too fast, you risk getting the cutting deck clogged much faster.

– Will Mulching Weeds Spread Them?

Yes. mulching weeds will spread them all over the lawn. During mowing and mulching, the weed seeds will also get converted into mulch along with the grass blades.

These seeds will then be spread all over the lawn by the mower along with the mulch. Soon, you will notice weeds erupting where they were not growing. That is why we do not recommend mulching unless your lawn is completely weed-free.

– Why Does My Mulching Mower Leave Clumps Of Grass?

Your mulching-type mower is probably leaving clumps of grass because you are mowing wet grass. This mower is not designed to mow wet grass efficiently.

Not only does it leave clumps of grass behind, but that machine also gets clogged.


You have now read a great deal about the mulching vs side discharge types of mowers. The main difference between them lies in their design and blade shape.

If you have a small lawn with grass that will grow better when mulched, then a mulching type of mower will suit you the best. For larger lawns and grass that grows tall frequently, a side discharge type of mower might be a better choice.

The Best Lawn Mowers for Mulching Leaves Will Save You Time and Improve Your Lawn

Fall cleanup is just around the corner. And those leaves? They aren’t going to dispose of themselves. But who wants to spend all of autumn hunched over, raking leaves into a bag and focusing on lawn maintenance? Chances are, not you. Fortunately, mulching leaves makes for a much better option than raking them. And if you’re in need of a new lawn mower before those leaves start falling? You should probably check out the best lawn mowers for mulching leaves.

Is mulching leaves good for your lawn?

The best push mower for mulching leaves is the Honda HRN216VLA, says Consumer Reports. The organization gave the lawn mower Excellent ratings in its mulching tests. It’s good at more than mulching leaves too. In fact, Consumer Reports also gave it Excellent ratings in handling and cutting evenness. As for how much this mower costs? You can expect to pay between 400 and 500 for this new lawn mower.

And if you would prefer a riding lawn mower for mulching leaves instead? The John Deere X350-42 is one of the best riding lawn mowers for mulching leaves, says Consumer Reports. In fact, the E130 earned an Excellent rating for mulching. Perhaps the only downside to this riding lawn mower is its price. At 3,200, there’s no denying that this John Deere lawn mower is expensive.

Zero-turn lawn mowers are among the best types of lawn mowers for mulching leaves too. Take, for example, the Toro TimeCutter SS4225 75742. Consumer Reports not only gave this zero-turn lawn mower an 83 overall score, but it also gave it Excellent ratings in mulching, side-discharging, handling, and cutting evenness. Priced at 2,500, this zero-turn mower is also a Consumer Reports Best Buy.

How to mulch leaves with your lawn mower

Now that you know the best lawn mowers for mulching leaves, let’s talk about how to mulch leaves with your lawn mower. Fortunately, mulching leaves with a lawn mower is a pretty simple process, Bob Vila reports. First, make sure leaves are evenly distributed across your lawn. Then, adjust the height of your lawn mower so it’s at its highest setting.

Once you’ve adjusted the height of your lawn mower, you can begin mowing over the leaves. According to Bob Vila, your goal should be to cut the leaves into shreds that are approximately a half-inch in diameter or similar in size to a dime. Once you’re done, the shreds should be small enough to fool someone into thinking you not only raked your leaves but also mowed your lawn.

As for how often you should be out there mulching? “Consider mulching leaves on a weekly basis during the height of the season so there’s not enough time between mowings for more than 6 inches of leaves to accumulate,” Bob Vila recommends.

Mulching leaves is better than raking them

Mulching leaves isn’t just good for your lawn. It also has the potential to save you both time and money. So when it comes down to it? You’re probably going to want to check out the best lawn mowers for mulching leaves before your start fall cleanup.

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