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What Is Mulching and What Benefits Does It Bring?

What Is Mulching and What Benefits Does It Bring?

What Is Mulching and What Benefits Does It Bring?

Mulching – you’ve probably heard of it, but what exactly is it?

Standard walk-behind mowers, ride-on mowers and lawn tractors discharge clippings directly into a catcher.

Mulch-capable versions of those machines do away with this process – instead of being bagged, clippings are held under the machine’s cutter deck, where the blade shreds them, before the resulting mulch is returned to the lawn surface, where it will, due the fineness of the particulates, rapidly rot and disappear.

What Are the Benefits of Mulching?

Mulching brings three key benefits:

Firstly, because you won’t have to constantly trudge – or drive – back and forth to the compost bin to dump the contents a collector, mowing time is reduced by around a third.

Even if you bag the mulch, you’ll still save time, as the bag will take longer to reach capacity, thus minimising the frequency of emptying stops (fuel is also saved, as restarting the engine is a thirsty process for it).

Secondly, the mulched cuttings help the turf retain moisture, which means less need for watering through the drier summer months, and less propensity for weed growth.

And thirdly, the nutrients released by the decomposition of the mulch provides the lawn with a 100% organic feed, the like of which would cost you a pretty penny at the garden centre.

So, feel free to collect and dispose of clippings if you prefer, but over the long term, mulching them will lead to a lusher and more verdant lawn.

It’s important to note that areas to which horses have access shouldn’t be mulched, as, if the mulch is eaten, the gases produced during digestion can cause severe colic.

It might also be useful to know that you won’t find a mulch-capable roller mower – this is down to the fact they cut so low, the clippings they produce aren’t suitable for shredding. Plus, the extra-close-cropped finish would allow the mulch to be visible.

The industry goes by the ‘one-third’ rule when it comes to mulching – if the grass is three inches long, cutting it back by one inch will ensure the mulch won’t show on the surface.

Types of Mulching Mower – Both Walk-Behind and Sit-On.

There are four main types of mulch-capable walk-behind and sit on mowers:

– Dedicated mulchers: only capable of mulching, these are specialist machines designed with the neat, formal lawn in mind.

– 2-in-1: these machines offer mulching and side-discharge modes, with the latter perfect for overgrown outlying areas, and other areas where the aesthetics of the finish aren’t important to you.

– 3-in-1: In addition to mulching and collection, with a three-in-one mower, you’ll also get rear-discharge mode, which, unlike side-discharge, won’t blow clippings across your flower borders. You’ll also find three-in-one mowers with side- rather than rear-discharge.

– 4-in-1: The most flexible and versatile of all, four-in-one mowers feature mulching, collection, rear-discharge and side-discharge, making them a great choice if you’ve got mixed areas to manage.

(NB: generally, the accessories required for all the above cutting options are included in the package, but sometimes they’re optional extras – check the specs to see).

A Few Mulch-Capable Walk-Behind Mowers, Ride-Ons and Tractors

Let’s have a look at some mulch-capable machines:

1) Stiga Multiclip 950 V Self-Propelled Petrol Mulching Lawnmower (with Honda Engine)

Stiga Multiclip 950 V Self-Propelled Petrol Mulching Lawnmower
Stiga Multiclip 950 V Self-Propelled Petrol Mulching Lawnmower

From Swedish grass-recycling experts, Stiga, the 167cc, mulch-only Multiclip 950 V employs pro-duty Honda power, and incorporates Stiga’s innovative, multi-position ‘Fulcrum’ handlebar, which you can offset to prevent it dragging through shrubs, hedges and other lawn-side vegetation.

With aluminium wheels and a galvanised-steel deck, the Stiga Multiclip 950 V is so well built, it’s covered by an extended five-year warranty for domestic use (one year for commercial use).

There’s no catcher with the Stiga Multiclip 950 V, so it will prove easy to transport and store.

A 48cm working-width makes it ideal for lawns up to 1700m2.

2) Oleo-Mac G48-PK SD Comfort Hand-Propelled Petrol Mulching Lawnmower with Side-Discharge

Oleo-Mac G48-PK SD Comfort Hand-Propelled Petrol Mulching Lawnmower
Oleo-Mac G48-PK SD Comfort Hand-Propelled Petrol Mulching Lawnmower

Similar to the previous machine, in that it’s a mulcher and doesn’t come with a grassbag, the Oleo-Mac G48-PK SD also features a side-discharge chute, so it’s just as at home on lawn areas as it is on long, rough grass.

Italian-built to high standards, the 46cm Oleo-Mac G48-PK SD is hand-propelled and of compact dimensions; a combination ideal for less substantial areas where manoeuvrability is an important consideration.

This one comes powered by a super-efficient 139cc OHV motor from Emak.

3) Spectrum TG46S 3-in-1 Self-Propelled Petrol Lawnmower

Spectrum TG46S 3-in-1 Self-Propelled Petrol Lawnmower
Spectrum TG46S 3-in-1 Self-Propelled Petrol Lawnmower

From a brand exclusive to CompassGM, the Spectrum TG46S is a 46cm/139cc petrol walk-behind mower built to a standard rarely found in its affordable price bracket.

Attractive features on the Spectrum TG46S include a deck-wash port, which makes sluicing out the underside of the cutter deck a breeze; and ball-bearing mounts for the wheels, which will keep them rolling freely for the duration of the mower’s working life.

The cutting options are as follows: bagging; mulching; side-discharge.

If you’d like a wider cut and electric start, have a look at the Spectrum TG51SE, or the Spectrum TG56SE.

4) Harry LMG53SHLV-T 4-in-1 Variable-Speed Lawnmower

Harry LMG53SHLV-T 4-in-1 Variable-Speed Lawnmower
Harry LMG53SHLV-T 4-in-1 Variable-Speed Lawnmower

Next up, the Harry LMG53SHLV-T Variable-Speed Lawnmower.

The four-in-one Harry LMG53SHLV-T lets you choose between collecting, cut & drop (rear-discharge), mulching and side-discharge, so it’s capable of handling a diverse array of grass conditions.

Further enhancing versatility is a variable-speed self-drive – you’ll be able to operate at a ground speed you find comfortable, while also being able to adapt to the grass length and terrain type.

A generous 53cm cutting-width facilitates a speedy large-area work rate; a sizeable 173cc engine delivers plenty of power to the rear wheels and blade.

5) Feider FRT75BS125-SD Side-Discharge Ride-On Mower

Feider FRT75BS125-SD Compact Side-Discharge Ride-On Mower
Feider FRT75BS125-SD Compact Side-Discharge Ride-On Mower

Now, a compact ride-on mower from another CompassGM-exclusive brand, in this instance, Feider.

A high-quality but affordable machine, the manual-drive Feider FRT75BS125-SD, with its 76cm cut, is a great choice if your lawn’s a tad too big for a walk-behind, but not quite big enough to justify the purchase of a full-sized tractor mower.

Power is supplied by a beefy 340cc OHV engine from US industry leaders, Briggs & Stratton; height of cut adjustment is by way of an ergonomic lever positioned directly to hand.

The Feider FRT75BS125-SD is a two-in-one ride-on, offering mulching and side-discharge as standard.

6) Mountfield MTF 84 H Rear-Collect Lawn Tractor

Mountfield MTF 84 H Rear-Collect Lawn Tractor
Mountfield MTF 84 H Rear-Collect Lawn Tractor

From a classic British brand in business for over sixty years, the Mountfield MTF 84 H is an 84cm, three-in-one lawn tractor featuring rear-collect, mulching and rear-discharge, with the catcher included, and the mulch plug and rear deflector available separately.

Twin blades ensure a consistent finish and create a powerful airflow that enables successful damp-grass bagging; a hydrostatic – rather than manual – transmission confers excellent control and manoeuvrability.

Producing some serious ‘grunt’ is a 414cc/8.4hp engine from Stiga.

7) Cub Cadet XT3QS127 Heavy-Duty Side-Discharge V-Twin Garden Tractor

Cub Cadet XT3QS127 Heavy-Duty Side-Discharge V-Twin Garden Tractor
Cub Cadet XT3QS127 Heavy-Duty Side-Discharge V-Twin Garden Tractor

A beast of a machine, the Cub Cadet XT3QS127 boasts a huge 726cc V-Twin-cylinder engine, which allows the heaviest of attachments to be towed.

It might be substantial – it has an extra-wide 127cm cut – but the Cub Cadet XT3QS127 Garden Tractor is nevertheless supremely agile, with its hydrostatic drive and minimal 17cm turning circle making it easy to work around obstacles, and to realign at the end of the pass.

Suitable for areas around the 20,000m2 mark, this model provides mulching and side-discharge capabilities as standard.

8) Stiga Park 300 M Front-Cut Ride-On Lawnmower (Excluding Deck)

Stiga Park 300 M Front-Cut Ride-On Lawnmower
Stiga Park 300 M Front-Cut Ride-On Lawnmower

Last on the list, something a bit different; the Stiga Park 300 M Front-Cut Ride-On Lawnmower.

Setting apart the Stiga Park 300 M from the crowd is its forward-mounted cutter deck* – you’ll have a clear, unimpeded view of your intended cutting path; and, unlike mid-deck tractors, the wheels won’t flatten the grass prior to it getting the chop, leaving you with more uniform results.

Stiga Park Combi Pro 125 Q Plus QuickFlip Cutter Deck
Stiga Park Combi Pro 125 Q Plus QuickFlip Cutter Deck

A further advantage of the Stiga Park 300 M is its 50:50 articulated steering, which means you’ll be able to concentrate fully on what’s happening in front of you, as there’s no possibility of the mower’s back end striking an obstacle.

The Stiga Park 300 M is a mulch-only machine.

*Cutter deck offered separately

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