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Recycling grass clippings by returning them to the lawn after mowing has many benefits. Research shows the practice improves turfgrass growth rates, boosts water infiltration and reduces fertilizer requirements by 75 percent. It also eliminates the need to rake, empty baggers or deal with large piles of freshly cut grass.

Mulching mower systems speed the process by finely cutting clippings so they quickly break down and release their nutrients back into the soil.

A variety of options are available. John Deere’s Mulching Kits, for example, include easy-to install baffles that create a separate cutting chamber for each bladeWhen cut, the grass is lifted into the mowing chamber, where it is cut multiple times before dropping onto the soil. Dedicated mulching mowers, like the JS63V walk-behind, feature special blades and a deep-dome mower deck.

Whichever version you choose, don’t overload the mulching system by taking too big a bite out of the grass at one time. Limiting cuts to the top 1¼ inches reduces the chances of plugging the mower deck or discharging clumps of cut grass onto the lawn. Such clumps are unsightly and can damage the grass underneath.

This can mean mowing more often. During periods of rapid growth, plan on mowing twice a week instead of only once. For homeowners with limited lawn time and a set mowing schedule, such as Saturday afternoons, this can be a challenge.

Alternating between mulching and traditional mowing can reduce the time commitment. However, making the switch often includes time and effort to remove specialized mulching equipment or blades. But not always. In a victory for versatility, John Deere’s revolutionary MulchControl system allows users to easily change from mulching to side discharge or bagging simply by moving a lever.

Available for select residential riding and zero-turn radius mowers, it’s a great option if you’d like to reap the benefits of mulching, while leaving your options open to other mowing approaches.

Written by: Dan Johnson