Mulch vs Side Discharge | What’s The Difference?

Mulch vs Side Discharge

Although many american made mulching lawnmowers are more prevalent than side-discharge models, does this necessarily imply that they are superior? Not always. It depends on how much fertilizer you want to use from your lawn clippings and how prepared you are for cleanup.

The clippings are reduced to extremely small fragments by mulching blades when used rather than any regular blades before being redeposited on the lawn, where they swiftly degrade and enrich the soil with organic matter like mulch or compost. Side discharge merely sends grass clippings flying out the side of the mower, which can make a messy mess, especially if done close to sidewalks or roadways.

Here is a brief comparison of the two so you can decide which is better for your usage.

Comparison Between Mulching And Side Discharge

ParametersMulchingSide Discharge
Grass ClippingsCut multiple times and left on lawn as nutrientsCut once and left on lawn as debris
Lawn AppearanceFiner clippings lead to a more uniform lookVisible clippings may look less uniform
Time-SavingNo need to stop and empty bag; saves timeRequires stopping to empty bag, takes time
Nutrient RetentionMulching returns nutrients to the soilNutrients may be lost if clippings are not bagged
Water ConservationMulched clippings help retain soil moistureSide discharge does not affect water conservation
Weed ControlMulched clippings can help suppress weed growthSide discharge does not affect weed control
Equipment MaintenanceMulching can strain blades and require sharpeningSide discharge puts less strain on blades
AestheticsMulching may leave a neater, more manicured appearanceSide discharge may leave a rougher appearance
Environmental ImpactMulching reduces waste and avoids adding to landfillsSide discharge can contribute to landfill waste

What Is Mulching?

Mulching is a common gardening activity that is good for plants when carried out correctly. Mulching is a procedure commonly used for growing commercially important crops, such as fruit trees, vegetables, flowers, and nursery saplings. It entails covering the exposed surface of the earth with a layer of some external substance, which is referred to as “Mulch.”

Mulching has advantages that can help you save time when managing your landscape. It is useful for container and raised bed home gardens and yard gardening. Garden trash should always be recycled into mulch because it is the most environmentally friendly method to use it.

Pros of Mulching

  • The procedure of mulching doesn’t cost much. It is actually quite effective and useful when you examine its various advantages. Good mulches protect the soil by minimizing evaporation, which stops the soil from losing moisture. They boost water infiltration and avoid soil compaction brought on by a lack of moisture.
  • In addition to preventing the spread of illnesses that are carried by the soil, mulches help regulate the germination and growth of weeds. Additionally acting as insulation, these mulches can maintain the soil’s temperature and safeguard the roots from chilly or sweltering temps.
  • Utilizing organic mulches causes them to break down, gradually enhancing soil fertility. It looks lovely to have mulch on your landscaping. Your garden will look well-kept and improve in aesthetic value as a result.
  • Stops the soil’s surface from crusting. Mulch helps soil retain water, preventing it from flowing off.

Cons Of Mulching

  • A layer of mulch that is too thick (more than 3 inches) can bury and suffocate plants, preventing water and oxygen from getting to the roots. There should be a 2 to the 3-inch covering of mulch. Limit your mulching.
  • If mulch is heaped up around the tree and shrub trunks, it can accelerate the rotting of the bark. Keep the mulch 6 to 12 inches away at the base of woody plants. Stop mulching around trees like a “volcano” now! Mulch keeps decay-causing organisms, rats, and wood-boring insects away from the trunk.
  • Slugs, snails, rodents that burrow, and other pests love to live in mulch close to plant stems. To deter slugs and snails, scatter diatomaceous earth or wood ashes around the base of priceless plants.
  • If applied incorrectly, midsummer mulch might roast your plants with too much heat.
  • Light-colored, wood-based mulches like sawdust or recently chopped wood can rob the soil of nitrogen as they decompose. To counteract this impact, mix a nitrogen-rich fertilizer into the mulch, like soybean meal, alfalfa, or cottonseed meal.

What Is Side Discharge?

What Is Side Discharge?

Healthier for your lawn is side discharge, but it requires more maintenance. With side discharge, as opposed to mulching, grass clippings are sprayed onto the turf. Although it brings the grass clippings back to the surface of the lawn, the method is different and leads to mulching.

Chutes for ejecting grass cuttings are included on side discharge mowers. The grass clippings flow through an exit chute as they are cut by the mower blade and collect on the lawn, often to the side of the mower. It is common for the discharge chute to have a directional control lever that allows you to change the angle at which the grass discharges.

Pros Of Side Discharge

  • The ability to mow continuously and more quickly is the key advantage of side discharge mowing. Additionally, it is simpler to mow in long or wet grass, and if you mow carefully to regulate where the discharge travels, it is a good way to fertilize your yard.
  • Side discharge is excellent for fostering grass growth, so long as you mow properly and distribute your grass clippings evenly.
  • With side discharge mowers, the cut quality is superb. In addition, the blade will stay sharper longer because of its single-cut motion than a blade that mulches.
  • The ability to maintain a healthy lawn is another advantage of side discharge. Nitrogen is necessary for plant growth and is abundant in grass clippings. Your clippings break down and release their nutrients back into the soil when you mulch them. By doing this, you can maintain the health and vitality of your grass all year round.

Cons Of Discharge

  • However, this might become an issue if you cut your lawn improperly and wind up with heaps that are over 2 inches tall. Make sure to spread the cuttings thoughtfully because big mounds of them might obstruct light and water and promote bug growth.
  • The grass cuttings might splatter on your driveway, sidewalks, paths, and other locations that you’d prefer to keep free of grass clippings.
  • Additionally, the grass may be uncomfortable and stick to your clothing, staining your shoes and jeans as you walk through them.
  • In flowerbeds and gardens, clippings may end up. Without being mulched, the clippings may accumulate on the soil and create a mat that will keep moisture and oxygen from getting to the roots of the plants. The best course of action is to remove clippings from gardens before they have a chance to sprout weed seeds because they can also contain weed seeds.

Can You Mulch With A Side Discharge Mower?

In a side-discharge mower like GreenWorks 25022 and Toro 20339 you can utilize mulching blades if the mower can handle it. If you want to produce less discharge or grind your clippings more, doing so might be advantageous. A mulching mower can be used with conventional blades, but doing so could result in clumps or more buildup inside the mower.

Can You Convert A Mulching Mower to Side Discharge?

A mulching mower cannot be converted into a side discharge mower without much effort. Mulching mowers feature blade housing without an opening or a discharge chute; thus, to add a discharge chute, you would need to use metal-cutting tools to remove a section of the blade housing.

Mulching Vs Side Discharge: Which is Better for Your Lawn?

The primary distinction between side discharge and mulching lawnmowers is how they operate. Mulching mowers are manufactured without a glass discharge chute. Therefore, as you use the mower, grass clippings keep falling to the ground. Contrarily, side discharge mowers have a funnel that continuously ejects grass clippings to the side, hence its name.

If you don’t have to clean up after using a mulching mower, all the better. They are also an obvious choice if you frequently utilize your clippings for fertilizer. If you don’t mind the mess they create, side discharge mowers might be a good option. Compared to mulching mowers, they cut more efficiently.

Final Thoughts

Side discharge mowers can be worth a try if you don’t mind the mess you’ll need to clean up afterward. Because of how quickly they turn, they are better suited for vast lawns. Furthermore, you won’t have to stop in the middle of cutting the grass. If you want to use grass clippings to feed your garden, mulching mowers are a better choice.

They won’t also catch any dangerous materials, which is an added benefit. The organic matter that is left over after mulching is nutrient-rich and serves to feed the soil and strengthen its structure. The ideal choice ultimately comes down to the needs of the specific homeowner.


Yes, depending on your lawn care needs, you can switch between mulching and side discharge.

Mulching is generally more effective at suppressing weeds, as the mulch layer helps block sunlight from reaching the soil, limiting weed growth.

Side discharge is available on many lawnmowers, including walk-behind and riding mowers.

Both mulching and side discharge methods can promote a healthy lawn, but mulching is generally considered more effective, as it provides nutrients to the soil and helps suppress weeds.

The mulching method is generally better for reducing the amount of yard waste generated. Becasuse, the organic matter present in the mulch can be used to fertilize the soil rather than being thrown away.

Mulching method is generally better for reducing the watering needs, as the mulch layer helps to retain moisture in the soil.

You can use a variety of materials for mulching, including leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, and straw.

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