What’s The Difference Between Mulching Blades And High-Lift Blades?

If you’re looking for a new blade for your lawnmower, then you may be confused by the options available to you. The majority of blades can be divided into either two-in-one or three-in-one baldes, and there are a variety of blades in each category.

What's the Difference Between Mulching Blades and High-Lift Blades?

Two of the most common blades are mulching blades and high-lift blades. Although both of these blades are very effective at mowing lawns, they have their own advantages and disadvantages that make them better suited for different circumstances.

In this article, we will look at the difference between mulching blades and high-lift blades. We’ll look at their positives and negatives and this should help you choose the best blade for you and your lawn.

What Are Mulching Blades And High-Lift Blades?

Let’s begin by defining precisely what mulching blades and high-lift blades are. Once we’ve clarified what they are, we can move on to comparing them and looking at their advantages and disadvantages.

All About Mulching Blades

Mulching blades are also commonly called three-in-one blades. They have this second name because mulching blades give you the option of three different cutting functions. With mulching blades, you have the option of discharging your clippings, bagging them, or mulching them.

As you might be able to guess from the more common name for the blades, the mulching option is the one that the blades are primarily designed and used for.

The blade has a curved design which encourages the circulation and movement of the grass clippings when they enter the cutting deck. There is also a blade with a longer edge that works to cut the grass cuttings into fine mulch.

All About High-Lift Blades

In contrast to the three-in-one mulching blades, high-lift blades are also known as two-in-one blades. The two functions that high-lift blades can perform are either discharging clippings or bagging them.

High-lift blades do not allow you to mulch the grass clippings and this is one of the major differences between the two.

One of the other major differences comes from the “high-lift” part of the blades. There are plenty of other two-in-one style lawnmower blades that are considered to be regular blades (medium lift) or low-lift blades.

High-lift blades is a term specifically reserved for two-in-one blades that have that higher lift.

All of the different two-in-one blade types share common characteristics, however. They have a curved edge on the back of the blade and this is what gives them their lift. The difference between high-lift and low-lift blades is found in the angle of that curve.

High-lift blades have a much more acute upward curve and this in turn creates more suction in the deck. This means that your clippings are pulled upwards with more force and then discharged with more force as well.

What Is Mulching?

As we just learned, one of the major and most important differences between mulching blades and high-lift blades is that mulching blades can mulh and high-lift blades can’t.

When it comes to grass clippings, mulch refers to finely cut grass clippings that can then be scattered across your lawn. 

Advantages Of Mulching

There are many advantages to mulching. As the mulched grass cuttings begin to rot, they will release nutrients into the ground. This can help improve the structure and condition of your lawn without the need for buying any additional nutrients or grass food.

Mulching makes use of the waste produced by mowing and means that you don’t need to dispose of the grass cuttings (Also check out Ways To Dispose Of Your Lawnmower). Adding mulch to your lawn can even deter some of the pests that like to make home in your garden.

Mulching is environmentally friendly and has become very popular with many home gardeners.

Drawbacks Of Mulching

However, mulching isn’t favoured by all gardeners. Mulching is very difficult to do if you’re cutting damp grass as the fine clippings will be more likely to stick to your lawnmower.

If the mulch is stuck in clumps instead of loose clippings, it can actually prevent sunlight from getting to the grass beneath the clumps. It also makes cleaning your lawnmower a pain!

You will also find that mulching is very messy even if the weather is dry. Wind can spread mulch clippings across the paved part of your garden and into your flower beds. Damp mulch will stick to your gardening boots and can then be walked into the house. 

Mulching can often make mowing a longer task. This is especially true if, like most people, you don’t mow as frequently as you probably should. Mulching blades only cut a little bit of grass so you may need to do several passes of your lawn to get your grass as short as you want.

This can also lead to your blades becoming duller more quickly as they will be used more.

If your garden has weeds, then mulching can make your problem even worse. Your lawnmower will cut and mulch any material it mows, regardless of whether it is grass or weeds. This can then lead to weed spores becoming mixed into your mulch alongside the grass cuttings.

When you spread your mulch across the lawn, you’ll be spreading grass and weeds. Instead of just a few weeds, you might find weeds everywhere you’ve spread mulch.

The Differences In The Blades

What's the Difference Between Mulching Blades and High-Lift Blades?

Now that we know the difference between mulching blades and high-lift blades, we can start to look at them both in more detail. We’ll begin by looking at how the design of the blades differs. 

Curved And Straight Blades

When it comes to the cutting edge side of the blades, mulching blades generally have a larger curve than high-lift blades do. This curve helps the mulching blades with the mulching process as it creates the additional circulation needed in the deck for mulching. 

A curved blade also has a larger surface area than a straight blade of the same length and this also helps with the mulching process. Usually, high-lift blades are very straight on their cutting edge so this aids with the aerodynamics needed by high-lift blades.

It helps them to generate the lift they require instead of the circulation mulching blades need.

Curves On The Back Edges Of The Blade

The back edges of the blades are also quite different between mulching blades and high-lift blades. If you place the two blades side-by-side, you’ll easily be able to tell the difference.

Both blades are curved upwards as this aids with the lift effect they need, but the curve on mulching blades is more gentle. The curve on the back edge of a high-lift blade is much steeper.

This is because steeper curves create more lift and high-lift blades require this more than mulching blades.

Length Of The Cutting Part Of The Blade

There is another notable difference between the two different blades and this is something else you’re sure to notice if you lay them side-by-side. The length of the actual cutting edge on a mulching blade is much longer than the length of the cutting edge on a high-lift blade.

This is because of the mulching process. When you mulch grass clippings, you need to cut them into much finer pieces than normal, and having a longer cutting edge makes this quicker and easier. As high-lift blades don’t mulch, their blades don’t need to be as long.

The Advantages Of Mulching Blades

The physical differences between mulching and high-lift blades are pretty evident to see when the two blades are compared directly.

But how do these differences affect their performances and why are mulching blades better than high-lift blades? Why should you choose mulching blades over high-lift blades?

Here are some of the reasons why mulching blades are better. 

More Cutting Options

As we stated earlier, mulching blades are known as three-in-one blades whereas high-lift blades are only two-in-one blades. This means that you will have more cutting options with a mulching blade than you will with a high-lift blade.

Both blades can bag and discharge your clippings, but only a mulching blade can also give you the option of mulching your grass cuttings. 

However, we should point out that the average mulching blade isn’t quite as effective at bagging and discharging clippings as the average high-lift blade is.

It will still perform those functions adequately though so if you want variety and options, a mulching blade is a better choice.

Value For Money

There really isn’t much difference in price between mulching blades and high-lift blades so your budget won’t really be a consideration when choosing between the two.

However, mulching blades do give you three options instead of two as high-lift blades do, so you are getting more for your money. A mulching blade will allow you to bag, discharge, and mulch for roughly the same price as other types of blades that offer less functionality.

If you’re the kind of person that likes to get the best value for money, this could be a valid reason for choosing mulching blades over high-lift blades.

Environmental Considerations

If you’re already looking at and considering a mulching blade, then you’re probably doing so because of the mulching function and the benefits this can have. 

Mulching is great for a variety of reasons and one of the most important is that it can actually be beneficial for your lawn. Spreading the mulch can help your grass grow and look healthy. It also reduces your household waste and reduces the amount of rubbish you need to throw out.

You won’t need to fill your rubbish bin with a bag of grass clippings if you mulch!

The Drawbacks Of Mulching Blades

After considering the advantages and positives of mulching blades, it’s only fair that we now look at the drawbacks of mulching blades. Although mulching blades are a great blade to choose, that doesn’t mean they’re perfect and they may not suit everyone.

Mowing Needs To Be More Frequent

Mulching blades can struggle to cut grass that is either longer or thicker. If your lawn is seeded with thick grass or is overgrown, you might want to avoid mulching blades and opt for high-lift blades instead as this blade will be more effective.

Mulching blades can clog quite easily and the risks of this happening increase with longer and thicker grass.

If you do decide to buy a mulching blade, be aware that you will need to cut your grass more often to get the best results and the least amount of clogs. Instead of mowing your lawn once a week during the summer months, you may have to mow it twice to keep it more manageable. 

Mowing your lawn more often isn’t a problem if you have the time and motivation to do so, but if you’re already struggling to find the time for gardening, you may want to opt for high-lift blades. 

Lift Is Low, Bagging Less Effective

As we mentioned in the advantages section, mulching blades can bag and discharge your grass cuttings but these blades are not as effective at these functions as high-lift blades are.

This is because mulching blades are primarily designed for mulching, and not for bagging and discharging.

Due to their design, the lift of the cuttings isn’t as strong and it makes bagging the clippings less effective. If you’re going to be using your lawnmower blades to bag clippings and won’t be mulching them, then a mulching blade isn’t the best choice.

The Advantages Of High-Lift Blades

We’ve looked in detail at the advantages and disadvantages of mulching blades so it’s only fair that we now turn to the advantages and disadvantages of high-lift blades. We’ll begin with the advantages, so let’s see what makes high-lift blades a good choice for lawnmower blades.

They Perform Well In All Conditions

High-lift blades are very versatile. It doesn’t matter what type of grass you have or what the conditions are, high-lift blades will be able to cut down your grass.

They will usually do a decent job on any type of grass and lawn so you don’t need to worry about whether the blade will work with your garden.

This also makes them a good long-term investment as you can take high-lift blades to a different garden and you can be sure the blade will still do the job.

As long as the blade is sharp enough, you can take a high-lift blade with you when you move house and have a new garden to mow.

There Is Extra Lift Which Aids Discharge

We explained earlier that high-lift blades have a large curve on the back edge of the blade. This curve is sharper and more acute than other two-in-one blades that have a more regular or low lift. 

This curve gives you more lift and the increased airflow and force of the curve mean that the mower can remove the clippings from the deck more quickly and effectively.

You don’t need to worry about your deck getting full of clippings with a high-lift blade and this is especially useful if the grass you’re cutting is thicker or longer. By removing the clippings more quickly, you reduce the chances of the lawnmower becoming clogged.

Clogging is a real issue with long and thick grass and if you find that your lawnmower regularly becomes clogged, then a high-lift blade can prevent this.

Perfect For A Lawn Stripe Finish

The perfect lawn is all about the finish. If you’re the type of gardener who loves defined lawn stripes, then a high-lift blade is a better option than a mulching blade.

The added lift that a high-lift blade gives you doesn’t just remove clippings from the deck more efficiently, it also aids with lawn stripes. The suction that the high-lift blade creates gives you a more even cut and allows the grass to stand up straighter.

This in turn leads to those lovely defined lawn stripes that we love to see during the summer months. Unfortunately, mulching blades are not as effective at this as mulching blades.

The Drawbacks Of High-Lift Blades

Like mulching blades, high-lift blades also have their little functions and quirks that make them less than perfect. Now that we’ve looked at the benefits of high-lift blades, we should take a look at the drawbacks of them as well.

You Can’t Mulch Your Clippings

We’ve explained several times throughout this article that high-lift blades can’t mulch but we can’t discuss the drawbacks of high-lift blades without stating this one more time.

High-lift blades can bag and discharge grass clippings exceptionally well but they cannot mulch the clippings at all. If you want to mulch your clippings, then a high-lift blade is not for you.

Before you decide between mulching blades or high-lift blades, you should consider if you want to mulch at all. If you do, then you shouldn’t consider high-lift blades at all, regardless of their other benefits.

As we explained earlier, there are plenty of drawbacks with mulching so there is still a large market for high-lift blades. 

High-Lift Blades Need More Power

Although you can use high-lift blades on lawnmowers that have less horsepower and less powerful engines, they’re ideally suited for lawnmowers that have more punch.

They will work with both electric and gas mowers that are weaker but you won’t get the full benefit of the blades.

In general, high-lift blades require more powerful engines. If you do use them with a weaker lawnmower, the suction won’t perform as well and you run the risk of straining your engine.

With everything taken into consideration, we can’t really recommend high-lift blades with low horsepower lawnmowers.

Not Convenient For Sandy Soil

High-lift blades can be used on lawns with sandy soil. However, the extra suction that comes from high-lift blades can be as much of a hindrance with sandy soil as a benefit. Your grass won’t stand up as tall for the blades as it would with other types of soil.

The main problem with using high-lift blades on sandy soil, however, is that when the blade sucks up the grass clippings, it will also suck up some of the loose dirt and sand.

This debris will then circulate around your deck as well. You’ll find that your blades will dull more quickly and your deck might even become damaged.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to the differences between mulching blades and high-lift blades, the main difference is that mulching blades mulch and high-lift blades don’t.

However, if you’re wondering which blade is the best, there is no clear winner and it depends on your circumstances. If you want to mulch your grass clippings then the choice is easy as your only option is a mulching blade.

If mulching isn’t important and you want a blade that will effectively bag and discharge your clippings, then a high-lift blade might be the better choice.

Remember that if you do buy a mulching blade, you will need to mow your lawn more regularly. Although mulching blades can bag and discharge grass clip[ings, they are not as effective as high-lift blades are.

On the other hand, high-lift blades can become easily clogged if used on grass planted in sandy soil.

We hope that the information and advice in this article has helped you learn the difference between mulching blades and high-lift blades. We also hope that you’ll be able to make your own choice between the two.

Brian Freis