Rear Discharge Mowers Vs. Side Discharge

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When picking out a new lawnmower, one of the major choices is whether to select a side discharge or rear discharge mower. The better choice is based on how you plan to maintain your yard and how the mower will be used. Pick a mower that fits your mowing style.

Lawn Care Choices

  • The choice of mower style depends on how often you mow your lawn and what you like to do with the grass clippings. If you like to let the grass get fairly high before mowing, you want a mower that can cut through the tall grass and efficiently get the clippings out from under the mower deck. What you do with the clippings also determines the better mower choice. Options are to leave the clippings on the grass to decompose or be raked up later, bag the clippings as you mow, or use a mulching mower blade to cut the clippings into fine pieces.

Bagging the Grass

  • If you plan to bag your grass clippings with a mower-mounted bag, a rear discharge mower is the best choice. With the rear discharge, the bag is under the mower handle, out of the way. A bag attachment for a side discharge mower sticks out the side of the mower, making the mower much less maneuverable in tight places. The bag on a rear discharge mower will hold two to three times the amount of clippings as a side mounted bag, according to a report from CBS News,

Other Considerations

  • If you mow heavy and tall grass, a side discharge mower -- without a bag -- will handle the larger amount of clippings better than a rear discharge mower. If a rear discharge mower is used without the bag, the discharge chute or opening must be blocked to prevent the discharge of high-speed objects toward the person using the mower. Blocking the discharge area can cause the clippings to clog up under the mower, slowing or jamming up the operation.

Mulching With the Mower

  • One way to avoid having to do anything with grass clippings is to use a mulching mower blade. This blade will cut and recut the grass clippings into small pieces that will fall into the grass and basically disappear. To use a mulching blade, the mower -- either side or rear discharge -- must have the discharge blocked so the clippings stay under the mower deck to be mulched. Rear discharge mowers usually come with a method to block the discharge. A side discharge mower may require the purchase of a discharge-blocking device to use a mulching blade.

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