Convert Lawn Mower To Mulcher: Here’s How To Do It

Mulching your grass clippings back into the lawn is the most efficient way to return nutrients to the soil and keep your lawn in tip-top shape. However, most lawnmowers on the market today make use of (often inefficient) side discharges or bagging attachments. Is there a way to increase the mulching capabilities of such machines?

Anyone can convert their lawn mower into a mulching mower by simply adding a mulching kit. These kits consist of a mulching blade and a restrictor plate for the grass chute. The blade chops clippings into smaller pieces and the plate keeps them from being propelled from the mowing deck.

That question is our primary focus today, as we examine all the ways you can turn a regular lawnmower into a mulcher. We’ll discuss the benefits of such a conversion before we give you a few tips on the best ways to go about it. 


Should You Convert A Regular Mower Into A Mulching Mower?

Before we get into whether you can turn a standard lawnmower into a mulcher, we have to look at the potential benefits of doing so.

Mulching Is A Great Way To Feed Nutrients Into Your Lawn.

The fine clippings from a mulcher decompose at a far quicker rate than the larger clippings from a standard side-discharge machine. This allows essential nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to be released into the soil to boost your lawn’s health even further.

Mulched Clippings Help Boost Your Soil’s Moisture Content.

This allows you to skip watering your lawn from time to time. Mulch clippings are almost entirely made up of water, which is slowly reabsorbed by the soil as they decompose. This is especially helpful during hot seasons.

Mulching Can Save You Time.

It helps you save time that would otherwise be spent raking grass clippings or emptying a collector bag. Mulching mowers fire refined grass clippings into the ground neatly as you mow, an ability that makes them far more practical than your run-off-the-mill side-discharger.

Mulching is good for the environment.

It’s a much more efficient practice than dumping clippings at landfills or dumpsites. Mulched clippings are a much cleaner fertilizer than most commercial varieties. The moisture-boosting properties of grass clippings allow you to save water.

Mulching Saves Money

Speaking of saving, mulching your clippings will do your wallet a favor. You won’t have to spend as much money on store-bought fertilizers, and you can keep your water bill down.

How To Turn Your Regular Lawn Mower Into A Mulching Mower

Now, you’ll be pleased to know that it is possible to get mulching mower-like results from your standard mower. Many bagging and side-discharge mowers can be “converted” into mulchers in different ways.

The most common approach is to use a mulching conversion kit, which includes a restriction plate and a mulching blade. These kits are typically made for specific models from specific makes, so it’s rarely a “one size fits all” deal.

Check out this link to Amazon to see prices and kits for your model and brand of mower.

1. Switch The Mower Blade To A Mulching Blade

Mulching blades have curved surfaces and longer cutting edges than standard blades. When the blades are cutting grass, the curved surfaces cause the clippings to be sucked up to the mower deck. When these clippings fall back towards the ground, they encounter the blade and are cut into even smaller pieces.

2. Add A Restrictor Plate

A restriction plate is used to block the chutes on a side-discharge mower. This forces most of the clippings to remain in the deck and drop back down toward the blade.

Another “conversion” method is to simply aim your mower’s discharge chute(s) to the spots you want to mulch. This method is not as refined (no pun) as a conversion kit, but it may prove highly beneficial in a pinch. 

3. Some Mowers Have Built In Conversion Switches

A lot of modern lawnmowers can now be configured to discharge, bag, or mulch grass clippings. Conversion, in this case, is simply a matter of flicking a switch.

If you would like to read more…

Steps To Convert A Lawn Mower Into A Mulcher

It’s time to look at the steps you can take to turn your mower into a mulching beast.

Using A Mulching Conversion Kit

Let’s start with the mulching conversion kit method. For the best results, we recommend that you use both a mulching blade and a restrictive plate. Using one or the other in isolation will result in a significant portion of your clippings being discharged or bagged. 

If you plan on installing a conversion kit on a walk-behind mower, you will have to turn the mower onto its side. Make sure the carburetor side is up to avoid spillages. To access the underside of a riding mower, you will have to use a hydraulic jack to raise the front wheels. You can also use a forklift if you have access to one. 

Check out my article here to learn which way to tip a mower over onto its side.

Also, always ensure that your mower is off and that the sparkplug is disconnected before accessing the underside of the deck.

Now, the first thing you want to do is use a wrench to remove the bolt that holds your mower blade in place. This bolt may be tightly secure, so you may have to hit the handle of the wrench with a hammer to get it to budge.

Once the original blade is removed, you must install the mulching blade. Screw the bolt in as tightly as you can.

You can also use the hammer method (in reverse) to make sure the bolt is secure. It is usually advisable to simply hand tighten the bolt holding on the mower blade.

The restriction plate must be installed as per the manufacturer’s instructions. You can get a lawnmower specialist to install your conversion kit for you if you aren’t confident with the modifications.  

Mulching And Raking Grass Clippings

If you do not have access to a mulching conversion kit, you can try to use your side-discharge mower to fire grass clippings in a particular direction.

You must start by identifying the area you wish to mulch, before positioning the mower so the chutes are aimed at this area. You should also raise your mower deck if it can be adjusted in this way. A high mow will reduce the overall length of your clippings.

Chances are you will have to mow in a spiral (starting outside and going in) to get your clippings in the desired area. Keep returning to the starting position and repeating the spiral, making sure to lower the mower deck slightly each time. Repeat until you are satisfied.

Because the aiming method is not as efficient, you must use a rake to distribute the mulch as you wish. A quick watering will help prevent the clippings from being blown away.

A Riding Lawn Mower Mulcher Attachment

Garden tractors, in particular, are well known for their versatility in different landscaping and agricultural scenarios. The use of attachments (or “implements”) is at the heart of this versatility. These attachments are what enable a tractor to be used for cutting grass during one season and clearing snow the next.

There are also attachments for mulching while you mow your grass. These are commonly referred to as mounted mulching kits. John Deere is one of the pioneers of this kind of implement and, today, the brand makes kits that are highly effective and easy to install.

The Final Touches To Converting A Lawn Mower Into A Mulcher…

There are two main options when it comes to making a regular mower into a mulching mower.

  • One is to add a mulching kit to the mower that is specifically made for the model and brand.
  • Second is to direct the clippings to the area that needs the mulch and repeat passes as needed.

The mulching kit or a built in mulching option is far superior to the second method, but sometimes all that is needed is basic distribution of the grass cuttings.

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Mathew Booe

Mathew has worked in landscaping professionally for over 10 years. He is a grandpa and frequently interviews other experienced landscapers and lawn care experts who are also grandpas for these articles.

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