Fall is one of the most beloved of the four seasons. Bright colors, sweaters, pumpkins, kids in costumes, what’s not to love? The answer to that for any home owner is easy: LEAVES. Sure, they seem pretty when they start to change color while they’re up in the tree, but the moment they fall they become a problem. Leaves can kill patches of grass in your yard when spring rolls around, not mention the damage they cause to wood patios or the stains they can leave on decks. Leaves have to be dealt with; but what is the best way to deal with them? Leaf Blowers work well if you have a small to medium size yard but if you have a large yard, mulching seems to be the most time efficient means of getting rid of them. One of the biggest questions we get here at Humphreys Outdoor Power is in regard to mulching blades. These are specially designed to tear leaves and brush. We’ve compiled a short guide to help you decide if mulching blades are right for you, how to use them, and what else to try if they’re not.
The Pros and Cons of Mulching Blades:
· Mulching Blades mulch leaves well. If you have a large amount of leaves, the extra teeth on the fins of the blades help to destroy them on every rotation.
· Saves Time. This is especially true if you have a zero turn like a Dixie Chopper or Kubota zero turn. Basically you can ride over your heavily leaved areas and be done. In a lot of cases you don’t even have to get the leaf blower out.
· Mulching Blades do not mow grass well. Mulching blades are terrible when it comes to mowing your lawn. The bladed fins don’t create the suction that the regular fins do and you’ll be able to tell. This means that you need to mow with a different set of blades, which means you need to change them back and forth for mulching and mowing.
· The blade tip speed on most Zero Turn mowers is high enough to take care of most of your mulching for you. Regular blades can mulch just fine as long as you can close off your chute and keep the leaves under the deck.
How to use mulching blades
1. The first thing you’re going to want to do if you’ve decided to use mulching blades is to mow your lawn one last time with the regular blades. This will get the taller grass out of your way as well as putting a finished cut on your lawn for after your leaves disappear.
2. Once you do that, you’ll want to put on your mulching blades
3. Raise your deck a little higher than when you usually mow, about an inch ought to work.
4. Drive over your leaves
5. Repeat until they’re gone.
6. Put your regular blades back on for spring. Trust me, you’re going to think your lawn mower is broke if you try to mow with the mulching blades.
Alternatives to Mulching blades
Operator Controlled Discharge Chute: As mentioned above the blade tip speed on most zero turn mowers is fast enough to grind leaves really well, it’s just a matter of keeping the leaves under the deck long enough. An operator controlled discharge chute closes off the chute keeping debris under the deck longer. Dixie Chopper makes the easiest to operate and without any cables. We’ve fit this on many different brands, but we also sell a smaller unit offered by Trac-Vac that can fit on just about any make or model. In our opinion, this is the best tool you can purchase if you’re mulching leaves and already have a zero turn.
Trac-Vac: If you grew up in Indiana you probably remember seeing one of these galvanized steel carts being pulled behind a riding lawn mower. This is still a great tool for a zero turn or even a riding lawn mower. They can be a pricier option but deliver the most professional looking results regardless of what mower you’re pulling with it.
At the end of the day, a regular Stihl leaf blower may still be your best option, particularly if you have a small yard. However, for those of you that have a big yard, mulching blades might be a good option for you. We tend to recommend trying to grind the leaves with an operator controlled discharge chute first, primarily because you won’t risk forgetting about changing your blades come spring. As long as you remember to not mow your grass with the mulching blades you’ll be in the clear. If you have any questions about mulching blades, operator controlled discharge chutes, Trac-Vacs, or simply want to shoot the breeze, give us a call or stop by!