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What is a mulching lawnmower?

Man uses a mulching lawnmower
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You’ll be familiar with the benefits of the average lawnmower for your garden, but what is a mulching lawnmower? The key difference with a mulching lawnmower is it returns the tiny grass clippings to the ground. The cut grass releases nutrients into the soil and revitalizes your lawn. 

Fed up with the hassle of lawn maintenance? A mulching lawnmower is a great choice as it saves you from adding fertilizers to keep the grass green. Even better, minimizing the use of chemicals means you get to do your bit for the environment. 

• Read more: Best gas lawn mowers (opens in new tab)

You may still be asking yourself, but what is a mulching lawnmower? Help is at hand, as we’ll ask the experts to walk you through how mulching lawnmowers work, the benefits and the drawbacks. We’ll give you the information you need to decide whether it’s the right choice for you.

What is a mulching lawnmower?

A mulch is a material you add to the soil to give it extra nutrients. You’ll likely have heard about people topping up their flower beds with layers of manure or compost to give plants a boost. Mulching lawnmowers use the same principle so you can reap the benefits of a happy, healthy lawn. Whether you want to use the best electric lawn mowers (opens in new tab) or the best riding lawn mowers (opens in new tab), you can find models that incorporate mulching. 

Mulching

Mulching is a great way to add nutrients back into your soil. (Image credit: Getty)

So what is a mulching lawnmower? “A mulching lawnmower is a lawnmower that cuts grass into very fine pieces. They fall easily onto the soil's surface where they can be rapidly broken down by soil microorganisms. This releases nutrients from the lawn back into the soil,” explains Michael Clarke, founder of Pulled (opens in new tab), an online home management platform. As the grass decomposes, it gives new life to the soil and keeps your grass healthy and green. 

“This is very different from bagging lawnmowers that collect grass clippings as the lawnmower blade cuts and removes them from the lawn surface,” adds Michael. Unlike traditional lawnmowers, you’re essentially recycling the grass clippings, which is a more sustainable approach.

Benefits of a mulching lawnmower

Your choice of lawnmower will depend on your circumstances. “A mulching lawnmower is useful when mowing large areas of grass when you can’t collect and dispose of the clippings,” says Michael.

What the expert says…

Are you relying on chemical products for lawn upkeep? Michael Clarke, founder of Pulled (opens in new tab), has this advice: “If you've used chemical products and fertilizers on your lawn previously, your grass will grow differently. It won't decompose the same way that organically grown grass does. This can do more harm than good as it breaks down into the soil when mulched. It's best to bag these lawn clippings for a period without adding more chemical products before attempting to mulch your grass.” 

“Because mulching lawnmowers allow the grass clippings to be utilized by the soil, there is less of a need for nutrients such as nitrogen to be added artificially to the lawn to maintain a healthy appearance,” says Michael. As a result, you’ll cut down on the work needed to keep your lawn a healthy shade of green. This saves time so you can tend to your favorite plants or simply sit back and admire your lawn. 

In the summer months, it’s common for lawns to develop unsightly brown patches. A mulching lawnmower may offer a solution. “Mulching can help your lawn retain moisture during the heat of the summer with the mulched clippings acting as a natural barrier from the sun,” says Michael. The layer of grass clippings prevents the sun from penetrating the soil and depriving it of moisture. You’ll spare yourself the hassle of watering the lawn to keep those dry patches at bay.

Mulching lawnmowers are beneficial both for you and the planet. The mulching process replenishes the soil with nutrients. As a result, you won't need to rely so much on artificial fertilizers and herbicides, which damage the environment. A mulching lawnmower is kind to the planet, which brings a feel-good factor.

Drawbacks of a mulching lawnmower

For all their benefits, there are drawbacks to mulching lawnmowers.  “Mulching can be messy, especially if you mow your lawn infrequently and the grass has grown very tall. The green color released from the freshly cut grass blades can stain sidewalks and concrete surfaces,” cautions Michael.  While you’ll save time on lawn upkeep, you’ll need to pay attention to lawnmower maintenance and remember to sharpen the blades. 

With a mulching lawnmower, the grass is greener, as it releases extra nutrients into your soil. If sustainability is a priority for you, why not give a mulching lawnmower a try?

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Louise Bond is a UK-based writer specializing in health and wellbeing. She has over eight years of experience in management within health and care and brings this passion and expertise to her writing. Louise has been published in The Guardian, Live Science, Fit & Well, Tom’s Guide, Planet Mindful, Breathe, and Psychreg. She is at her happiest when she is out in nature, whether that’s on an invigorating hike or pottering in the garden.

With contributions from