So which is best mulching vs bagging vs side discharge?

So which is best mulching vs bagging vs side discharge?

So which is best mulching vs bagging vs side discharge?

Mulching vs Bagging vs Side Discharge

In this guide you will find EVERYTHING you need to know about handling grass clippings!

It’s no secret, there are many ways to handle lawn clippings. 

And, with all choices, there are pros and cons for each method. 

But don't worry, we made things simple with this guide. 

Let's take a look!

What Do The Pros Say?

We surveyed 880 of GreenPal’s lawn care pros to see which grass clipping management method that they preferred. 

Of the 880 Respondents:

  • 620 said they preferred to mulch the clippings.

  • 180 said they preferred to use side discharge.

  • 80 said they preferred to bag them.

According to our survey 70% of lawn care professionals prefer to use a mulching kit. 

However, it is important to note: One big reason more lawn care professionals do not use a bagging system instead, is that many clients are simply unwilling to pay more for the time involved. 

However there is much more to the story!

Bagging Grass Clippings Pros and ConsMethod #1- Bag Your Clippings

The first method we will mention is the second most common method for handling grass clippings among homeowners. Use a bagging attachment on your lawn mower. 

Look, bagging lawn clippings is simple. 

Install a bagging system on your mower, and all you need to do is find a place to dump the clippings.

More importantly, there are huge benefits to bagging your grass clippings including; the ability to cut grass in nearly all conditions, and best of all it can remove weed seeds from the lawn. 

If you do bag your grass compost your clippings!

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  • Can help reduce weeds by removing seed heads from the lawn.

  • Provides the most professional appearance. 

  • Works even when the lawn is wet.

  • Remove all debris from the lawn such as grass clippings and leaves. 

  • Less likely to throw a rock or other object which can cause damage. 

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  • Takes longer due to having to dispose of the grass clippings throughout the mowing process. 

  • You need to have a place for dumping grass clippings.

  • Removes free nutrients from the lawn.

  • Requires a lawn mower with high enough HP to cut effectively. 

Bagging in a Nutshell

Hands down, bagging grass clippings is the all around best method for most homeowners, especially if your lawn is full of weeds or not that well established.

But that is still not the whole story....

Side Discharge Grass Clippings Pros and ConsMethod #2- Use the Side Discharge

Perhaps the most popular among homeowners is using the side discharge. 

For many homeowners the side discharge works just fine, and since it is the default for most mowers, most simply use this method. 

Best of all, cutting tall grass is not a problem.

Using the side discharge is easily the fastest method to use.

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  • Mowing tall or wet grass is best done with a side discharge.

  • Offers a good-quality cut.

  • Fastest mowing speed.

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  • Throws clippings everywhere.

  • Less powerful mowers can leave clumps of grass in the lawn which can leave brown spots. 

  • Can throw seeds and grass into flower beds. 

  • Anything that gets under the mower deck can be shot into cars, homes or people. 

Side Discharge in a Nutshell

Side discharge is good overall, and provides a fast, quality cut. IF you mow very regularly.

However, there are some significant downsides to using a side discharge system, including throwing grass and other debris everywhere. 

But what about mulching?

Mulching Grass Clippings Pros and Cons

Method #3- Mulch the Grass

Most people don’t know this, but there is a 3rd lawn mowing option, and that is mulching the grass.

Get this, this type of mulching has nothing to do with the mulch you use in a garden bed. 

Instead, mulching grass involves a closed mower deck and mulching blade. 

Rather than discharging grass. Mulching mowers chop up the grass, and even leaves, into tiny pieces which quickly break down into the lawn. 

Now, there are some downsides to mulching the grass. The biggest problem is that tall grass can be difficult to cut. 

Additionally, low HP mower may not have the power required to mulch the grass properly. 

  • Not ideal for wet or tall grass.

  • May add to thatch build up.

  • May encourage disease in the lawn. 

Mulching in a Nutshell

Mulching is a great all around option for homeowners that cut their lawn regularly. 

Not only does mulching keep nutrients in the lawn, mulching also reduces the risk of throwing a rock or other object into a car, home or person. 

Comparison of Lawn Clipping Management Methods

Side Discharge
Nutrient RetentionHighNoneLow
Suitability for Wet GrassLowHighMedium
Weed ControlMediumHighLow
Debris RemovalLowHighMedium
Suitability for Tall GrassLowMediumHigh
Equipment RequirementMulching BladeBagging SystemStandard

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between mulching, bagging, and side discharge?

Mulching involves chopping grass clippings into fine pieces that decompose and return nutrients to the lawn. Bagging collects clippings in a bag for disposal or composting, ideal for controlling weeds and keeping a clean appearance. Side discharge spreads clippings back onto the lawn, suitable for fast mowing and tall grass.

How does mulching affect lawn health?

Mulching benefits lawn health by returning essential nutrients to the soil as grass clippings decompose. This process encourages a healthier, denser lawn, reduces the need for additional fertilizer, and helps maintain soil moisture, which can be crucial during dry periods.

TL;DR: Mulching vs. Bagging vs. Side Discharge: Which Is Best for Your Lawn?

Mulching is preferred by 70% of lawn care pros. It cuts grass clippings into fine pieces that decompose, enriching the lawn with nutrients. Best for regular lawn maintenance, it struggles with wet or tall grass and may contribute to thatch buildup.

Bagging collects clippings for a clean appearance and can reduce weeds by removing seeds. Ideal for lawns with weed issues or when cutting in all conditions. However, it's time-consuming and removes clippings that could naturally fertilize the lawn.

Side Discharge quickly expels clippings from the mower, suitable for cutting tall or wet grass with ease. It's the default setting for most mowers, offering speed but potentially distributing clippings unevenly and into unwanted areas.

Bottom Line on Side Discharge vs Bagging vs Mulching

The best method depends on your lawn's condition, your goals, and how much effort you're willing to invest.

Using this infographic on how to handle lawn clippings can help you decide which grass clipping method is best for you.

Best of all, if you don’t feel like taking the time to figure it all out, reach out to the pros at GreenPal, and they will handle it for you!

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