You might be wondering—what is a mulcher? Or more specifically, what is a mulching mower? Excellent question! Stay tuned, as we answer all of your most burning mulch, mulching and mulcher questions.
Maybe you’re a complete novice, you think ‘mulch’ is a weird word, and the talk around the watering hole is that you’re missing out because you don’t do it? We’re not here to judge. Let’s start at the beginning, with this little gem of an explanation from our mates at Honda:
“In the case of mulching lawn mowers, the mulch consists of grass clippings from the mowed turfgrass. The clippings are cut into fine pieces that fall easily to the soil surface. There, they can be rapidly broken down by soil microorganisms, which release nutrients from the mulched plant material back into the soil.”
So, are we all happy with the basics there? Mulch = clippings, being fed back into the soil so as to easily break down. Simple. The next question on the tip of your tongue is: what kinds of mulchers are available? Or perhaps, what if I’ve got something more heavy-duty than grass to mulch? Or even, can my regular old lawn mover do the job? Slow down, charger, we’ll get there. (And please…don’t attempt to mulch your olive grove with your walk-behind lawn mower. You may send yourself to an early grave. There are better ways, my friend!)
What is a Mulcher?
Thanks to our definition from the guys at Honda above, we can safely assume that a mulcher is a machine which is going to help you turn that grass into finely diced goodness for your microorganisms to break down. Great! But, as you may have noticed if you’ve been hunting around for information, there are different kinds of mulchers. What if you need to mulch something other plant matter? Or whole tree branches? Or an entire forest? Don’t worry, there is a mulcher for you. Here are your standard variations:
1) Mulching Lawn Mower
On the smaller end of the scale, a mulching lawn mower will turn your dry grass clippings and leaves into finely shredded, tasty little morsels for those bugs in your soil. Whether you’re the proud owner of a whizz-bang, ride-on, lawn-cutting beast, or the humble walk-behind variety, your machine can mulch for you! Many come with catcher bags attached, so that you can distribute your mulch to the most-needed areas of your property, such as your garden beds. If you’ve only got light materials to mulch, this type of machine will do you just fine—and is usually the cheapest and easiest option for you. There are a few things you’ll need in order to turn your garden-variety mower into a mulcher, but more of that soon.
2) Shredders & Chippers (Garden Mulchers)
Designed specifically to chop up your dead leaves, twigs, plant matter or wood chips and bag them, these machines will generally need to plug into a power source. They’ll take your piles of yard rubbish and masticate the heck out of them until they’re usable as mulch. Be aware: not all shredders are created equal. Some will take palm fronds, whereas some won’t. Furthermore, each machine will be subject to a maximum branch size. Choose your garden mulcher based on the largest diameter of branch you may need to destroy!
3) Orchard Mulchers
As the title suggests, these mulchers are suitable for clearing orchards and vineyards of grass, branches, vines, bushes, and generally tidying up your planting area. There are even varieties specifically designed for the type of orchard you’ve got—from olive groves to shiraz plantations. Available in a range of different sizes and capacities, there is sure to be an orchard mulcher available to suit your field.
4) Forestry Mulchers
And now we’ve reached the big guns. Got a forest-sized landscape to clear, anyone? These bad boys can tackle over a dozen acres of vegetation per day, depending on the type of material and terrain you’re working with. Often used for wildfire prevention, land clearing and management of vegetation, forestry mulchers come in both stand-alone and attachment (to excavator, tractor or skid steer) formats. So, no matter the enormity of your task, fear not, your forestry mulcher has got you covered.
What is a Mulch Kit? Can I Convert My Existing Mmower?
Short answer: YES! Some good news if you already own a mower, and aren’t keen on replacing it with another (possibly) expensive piece of equipment: ride-on or push mower owners can covert their existing machines to mulchers with a simple-t0-install mulch kit. Typically, a mulch kit will include mulching blades, a mulch plug and a bag or catcher. There is much debate about whether or not purpose-built mulchers or mulching kits are more effective. Converting your existing equipment is obviously cost-effective, however, the power of your mower will determine whether or not you spend your time unclogging or waiting for your slow mower to catch up. If you’re tackling residential yards, or light matter only, then a mulch kit may be the answer to your lawn-care prayers. However, if you’re dealing with larger areas or more robust material, you may need to look at purchasing a specialised mulcher to suit your needs.
What Does a Mulching Blade Look Like?
If you’re using your lawn mower to mulch, you can simply install specialised mulching blades to help you with the process! Hurrah! Mulching blades are often referred to as 3-in-1 blades as opposed to high-lift blades, as they cut, mulch and distribute the grass (clever little things!) There are a myriad of different blades out there, but generally speaking, a mulching blade has extra cutting areas in order to shred materials more finely. Above is just one example of what you might be looking for, when embarking on your mulching blade quest.
What is a Mulch Plug?
Much like the mulch blade, the mulch plug can be bought separately or as a part of your mulch kit. Basically, it will plug your discharge chute, so that the material you’re mulching gets another go at the blades, and falls beneath the deck and back onto your soil. Some work better than others, so be sure to do your research before you choose one. All in all, it can be a cheap and easy way to shred that grass a little finer for your lawn.
We hope that our guide to mulch, mulchers and mulching has helped to clear your confusion. If, after this article, you’ve decided that you’re in the market for a purpose-built mulcher, you can browse our list of available mulchers now, and get started on that lawn today! Happy mulching!