Sumo Gardener

Mulching Blades vs Regular Blades: Which is Best to Use?

Mowing your lawn is an important part of the regular maintenance needed to keep it growing thick and healthy, and knowing the difference between mulching blades vs regular blades can make all the difference.

Here's a helpful guide to standard and mulching mower blades, discussing which option is better for your lawn and why.

Mulching Blades vs Regular Blades - Which is best for your Lawn


5 Best Lawn Mower Blades for 2024


Our Rating


6 Pack Stens 335-859 2-in-1 Blades (Mulching)

6 Pack Stens 2-in-1 Mulching Blades 335-859
Best Lawn Mower Blades

Craftsman Mower Blade (Regular)

Craftsman Mower Blade Best Lawn Mower Blade

Husqvarna HU21462 46-Inch Premium Hi-Lift Bagging Blade (Mulching)

Husqvarna 46-Inch Premium Hi-Lift Bagging Blade HU21462

Poulan Pro OEM42MK Kit with Blades (Mulching)

Poulan Pro Mulch Kit with Blades OEM42MK

Murray 49241MA 42-Inch High-Lift Blade Set (Regular)

Murray 42-Inch High-Lift Blade Set for Lawn Tractors for Lawn Mowers 49241MA

Standard Mower Blades and Mulching Blades – What’s the Difference?

Mulching Blades vs Regular Blades

There are two basic types of lawn mower blades for your treasured mower – standard blades and mulching blades.

Standard blades  

Also referred to as 2-in-1 blades, these mower blades cut the grass in one stroke and discharge the clippings into a bag or over your lawn.

They are straight blades with an aerodynamic design, designed to create a powerful lift effect to disperse the clippings. 

These blades are best for if you want a clean, pristine lawn (as they can clear the clippings into a bag), and you mow on a less frequent basis (every 10 days to two weeks).

Mulching blades 

Also known as 3-in-1 blades, mulching blades can be used to cut the grass for bagging or discharging over the lawn, as well as mulching the cut grass.

They have a distinctive, curved shape with a larger cutting edge. This allows the blade to cut the grass as well as bring it onto the deck where it is cut several more times, so it falls back onto the lawn in very fine pieces. 

Mulching blades are ideal if you want your clippings to help nourish the lawn, as they reduce the clippings to a small size that breaks down more easily, returning organic nutrients to the grass.

If you use these types of blades, it is better to mow every 4-7 days or so. Using these blades on an overgrown lawn can cause clogging under the deck as well as lumps of grass on the lawn.

What to Look for - Lawn Mower Blade Shape

The easiest way to tell the difference between mulching and standard lawn mower blades is to look at their shape. A standard blade will have fewer cutting edges and a straight shape, while the mulching blade will have several cutting edges and a curved shape.

Here’s a picture of a mulching blade. 

What is a mulching blade

Source: Amazon

Are Mulching Blades Better?

This depends on the lawn maintenance you prefer to do. With mulching blades, you get the benefit of easily mulching lawn clippings to nourish and fertilize your lawn, so they are a great eco-friendly option.

You can also use them to gather the mulched clippings for your compost if you don’t want them directly on the lawn. However, it is best to use them if you are happy to mow fairly frequently (at least once a week). 

If you want to mow less frequently and prefer to bag your clippings, then standard mower blades are best.

How Do Mulching Blades Cut Grass Differently?

Standard mower blades lift the grass and cut it off at the set level in one sweep of the blade, creating a single cut. The length of the blades of cut grass will then depend on how tall your grass was when you mowed your lawn.

Mulching blades go one step further, cutting the cut blades several times to reduce them to fine pieces. These decompose more quickly than larger blades of grass, making it ideal for adding nutrients to your lawn or compost.

Can You Put Mulching Blades on Any Mower?

Yes! Almost any brand of mower will be able to fit mulching blades. All you have to do is measure the deck and the blades you want to buy to ensure they fit properly and can be secured tightly.

However, if the design of the deck is not suited to mulching blades, or the mower has a low-power engine, the mulching blades may not perform at their best.

What is the Best Mulching Blade?

Mulching blades can be referred to as 3-in-1 or all-purpose mower blades. The best mulching blades are durable and well-made with quality materials.

Good examples of high-quality mulching blades: 

Can I Mow Leaves Rather Than Raking?

Raking is a time-consuming part of fall lawn maintenance, and you can skip this job completely by mowing over your leaves. This will speed up decomposition, providing a nutrient-rich compost for your lawn or other plants.

You can either mow the leaves and leave them in place, or have your mower disperse them into the mower bag so you can add them to your compost.

You can use standard mower blades or mulching blades for this job.

Why Do Mulching Mowers Leave Clumps of Grass?

The most common reason for this is that the grass is wet and/or getting too long between mowing. During fast-growth periods like spring and summer, you will have to mow more frequently to prevent this issue.

It’s also a good idea to use mulching blades that work well on wet and dry grass to make this job easier and reduce clumping, like the Oregon G3 gator blades.

Can I Sharpen Blunt Lawn Mower Blades?

Sharpening Blunt Lawn Mower Blade

To make the blades last longer, you can sharpen your lawn mower blades. You’ll notice your blades are getting blunt if they start to tear the grass rather than shearing it off cleanly, creating a ragged-looking lawn.


Our Rating


6 Pack Stens 335-859 2-in-1 Blades (Mulching)

6 Pack Stens 335-859 2-in-1 Mulching Blades
Best Lawn Mower Blades

Craftsman Mower Blade (Regular)

Craftsman Mower Blade

Husqvarna HU21462 46-Inch Premium Hi-Lift Bagging Blade (Mulching)

Husqvarna HU21462 46-Inch Premium Hi-Lift Bagging Blade

Poulan Pro OEM42MK Kit with Blades (Mulching)

Poulan Pro OEM42MK Mulch Kit with Blades

Murray 49241MA 42-Inch High-Lift Blade Set (Regular)

Murray 49241MA 42-Inch High-Lift Blade Set for Lawn Tractors for Lawn Mowers

Mulching Blades Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use mulching blades with side discharge?

Mulching blades can be used for side discharge, mulch directly, or to fill bags. They are often called 3-in-1 blades for that very reason. For any mulching lawn mower with side discharge, mulching blades are pretty much essential.

Can you mulch leaves with a regular mower?

Any lawn mower will break down grass and leaves to use as mulch later. The advantage of mulching blades is that they are more efficient and whip clipping up as they go to create a more effective mulch as faster, but in most gardens, laying leaves out on a flat, hard, surface, will create effective mulch.

Are toothed mulching blades better?

Toothed mulching blades clog up faster than regular mulching blades and will need regular cleaning, as well as being limited more by wet grass.

Wet grass is virtually impossible to cut neatly with toothed mulching blades even on ride-on mowers. However, on dry grass in ideal conditions, toothed blades are more effective.

Do mulching mowers really work?

Grass is one of the most effective nutrient sources in your garden, and it stores everything it takes out of the soil. By mulching grass clippings back onto your lawn you are using it as its own fertilizer as well as reducing your workload.

Mulching Blades vs Regular Blades

Wrapping Up Mulching blades vs Regular Blades

The biggest difference between mulch blades vs regular blades is that mulching blades will do everything a standard blade will do.

With the additional functionality of shredding the cut grass blades into fine pieces, that are ideal for returning nutrients to your lawn or into your compost. 

Mulching blades are ideal if you are a supporter of eco-friendly gardening and are happy to mow a bit more frequently to get the full benefit of grass clippings feeding your lawn.

While standard blades are best if you want to mow less frequently and do not want to compost or leave clippings on your lawn. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article and have all the information you need to choose the between mulching blades vs regular blades for your yard!

About the Author Pat Moreno

Pat is our gardening tool expert here at Sumo Gardener. Working for many years as a private and commercial landscaper, Pat has used almost every type of gardening tool there is. Along with a vast knowledge for types of plants and putting together an amazing looking and maintainable garden, Pat developed a passion for gardening tools as he found that using the right tools vastly improved the ease and outcome of any landscaping job he undertook. When spending hours, days or years using a particular tool, you want to make sure you’ve got the best one for the job, and Pat is the right guy to guide us to the best gardening tools.

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