Mulching Vs Bagging Vs Side Discharge: Which is The Best 1 For You?

Most people when they want to improve their lawns that go to the store and buy the latest fertilizer, but one thing that’s often overlooked is how you handle your grass clippings.

Now, you can mulch you can bag or side discharge.

But which one you pick has a major impact on the look and the health of your lawn.

So in this post, I’m going to demystify on how you handle your grass clippings and help you make the right choice to decide which one is best for you.

Mulching Vs Side Discharge Vs Bagging


First I’m going to talk about the good points.

So bagging is a very safe method if you’ve got really long grass or you’ve got a real mess on your hand’s bagging can usually be the best method to clean it up.

If you also have a lawn full of weeds bagging is also very good because bagging is going to remove anything on your lawn whether it’s leaves, weed, seeds sticks or any other material.

So for those situations, bagging is really the best as anything you run over is going to go into that bag.

The last plus for bagging is that it’s going to give you a real nice cut. The mower is going to use most of its power to just spin the blade, lift the grass up, cut it and push the clipping right into the bag.

The downside is now you’re got a bag full of grass clippings or whatever else comes off the lawn.

Now, you’ve got to deal with disposing of that.

So disposing of grass clippings can be a real problem for a lot of people especially if you’re in places like the city or you just don’t have access on private land to dump those clippings.

Side discharge

Side discharge is pretty interesting. It used to be the way that everybody cut their lawn way back in the 50s and I think most of us can probably remember that image.

But things have changed.

Side discharge isn’t that popular anymore, especially with homeowners, but it is with professionals and the main Pros for side discharge is power and quality of the cut.

So again think back about that mower.

It’s spinning those blades and with no bag to fill you get excellent quality of cut because the grass is going to be lifted up very high from that power.

You also going to have speed because you can go very quickly and by blasting those clippings right out through the side discharge.

When the vacuum ability goes down those blades won’t stand up as straight and you won’t get as good of a cut.

And the reason is because a small homeowner’s lawn mower is not going to have a lot of horsepower.

So if you start with a lawn mower that doesn’t have a ton of horsepower and you add a bagger to it or you decide you’re going to mulch.

That takes away from the cutting power and it also can reduce the vacuum ability.

Now side discharge isn’t just for the professional those benefits are also good for the homeowner.

If you’re in a situation where you’re able to side discharge you will get a lot of power from a smaller mower, get excellent quality of cut and you can go very quickly. This is where a battery mower work there best

So if you’ve got a lot of land or even if you don’t time can be money for you as well, that can be a huge plus.

If you’re in an area at home, where it’s tight or you’ve got a neighbor you will have to shoot those clipping somewhere and they can make a gigantic mess.

The clippings fire out, they go all over the place and you pretty much have no control of that.

Now if you are mowing a field at home, or you’ve got a large piece of property that ain’t going to be an issue and things are much better than those old school mowers and side discharge.

You will find that the technology in later mowers will do a better job of spreading the clippings out. So in that field situation or a large yard, side discharge can be pretty good.


Now when you say mulching to most people who deal with lawn care, it’s like their eyes light up and think mulching is like the answer to everything.

But the issue with mulching isn’t quite that eas.

Let’s start with the obvious positives of mulching.

First off you don’t have to worry about getting rid of those clippings.

So if you’ve got a bad back or you just want to go out and mow and you just want to hit that mower and start going mulching is great because you can just keep walking and going forward and you don’t have to stop so that’s a huge plus.

If you put those clippings back down on your lawn, they will decompose and they’ll feed the lawn and that’s another big plus and that’s obviously good for the environment as well.

Also because you’re going to reduce possibly how much fertilizer you need.

The first negative about mulching is that you may require special blades for your mower.

Now newer mowers are coming with blades that can be used for mulching or for bagging. So that’s not as much of a problem.

But you can’t mulch with every mower or at least you can’t mulch effectively.

Mulching requires the right conditions to work well and if you go into mowing your lawn and your lawn is too long, to begin with, you’re going to have a problem with mulching.

Because your mower has to use some of its horsepower to grind that grass repeatedly until it finally can break down in your moving across to go to the next section a cut.

If your lawn is a little too wet when you mulch what happens is you’re going to slice that grass and then those liquids will get spun around the mower.

Then they’ll build up on the bottom and they’ll also kind of go all over the grass.

You can’t mulch effectively with wet grass.

You can’t handle it on a day where it’s raining so that can be a limitation for a homeowner and that’s usually why you’re going to see that most professionals rarely will mulch.

Another negative about mulching is the impact on your lawn. If you have a poor lawn mulching is not going to really help you and it will make things worse, so I suggest you switch now, start bagging especially if you’re trying to mulch  a lot of leaves.

So a big thing that you have to consider before mulching is the state of your grass.

If you’ve got lousy grass to begin with mulching a whole lot more of it along with weed seeds and grass might cause you more harm than good.

When I’m bagging I can go as fast as the mower will go.

If I use the mulching mode this slows things down a bit because the machine has to do more work to cut that grass so basically I cannot go as fast.

Now I’ve given you a fair bit of stuff to think about on three different ways to handle your grass clippings, but let’s sum this up and see who wins.

Roundup Bagging Vs Mulching Vs Side discharge

So the first report up is for bagging.

Baggins great because it allows you to mow in nearly all conditions. You’ll be able to completely remove all the debris right into the bag.

You’ll be able to mow fast and you’ll get a high-quality cut and I think it’s the best all-around choice.

The one downfall is you must dispose of clippings.

Next up is side discharge with side discharge. You can mow and nearly all conditions.

You’re going to get some of the fastest mowing speeds.

You’ll also get a high-quality cut and the best part is non stop mowing. But the one downside with side discharge is the clipping discharge.

They shoot everywhere and depending on your situation that may be a problem.

Now onto mulching. Mulching could be a great option as long as you understand that you need to mow under specific conditions.

That means not too wet in the grass. Can’t be too long. You’re going to also have some reduced mowing speeds, but you will get non-stop mowing and lastly, mulching can provide nutrients to your lawn.

But the one downfall is you can have issues if you don’t keep a close eye on the variables.

So, I hope I was able to give you enough good information to make the right decision for how you want to handle your lawn clippings.

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Last updated on May 22, 2024 11:07 pm