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Mulch or side discharge?


Lawn Maintenance / Lawn Renovation

A great way to talk about all things lawn care related. Grass, turf, shrubs, trees, aeration, fertilization, reseeding, hydro-seeding, mowing, grub control, chemicals and pesticides. Ask questions, give answers. Grow!
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  #1  
Old 05-14-2009, 04:36 PM
shorthorn shorthorn is offline
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Default Mulch or side discharge?

I have noticed alot of local lawn care folks are side discharging, which I had always done on my own yard, until I got the mulching kit for my John Deere x320.

What do you guys do, and why? I like mulching because I don't have to worry about getting clippings into the customers landscaping / sidewalks and so on. I'm thinking however, about going back to side discharging with some gator blades ( have used them in the past and loved them), due to the increased deck maintenance I seem to see with mulching (especially bad right now as it rains so darn much it is impossible to wait till every yard is perfectly dry!)

What are your thoughts?
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  #2  
Old 05-14-2009, 10:04 PM
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We only mulch for a number of reasons, a majority of the lawns water iis in the grass you are cutting and the clippings act as great fertilizer for the lawn and if done properly you will have little if any thatch.

Andy
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Old 05-14-2009, 10:39 PM
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Framer,

Can you clarify what you mean by "doing it properly will not build thatch"? Do you mean just mowing on time, and not mulching when it is really tall, or how exactly do you prevent thatch buildup when mulching?
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  #4  
Old 05-14-2009, 11:33 PM
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Default Mulching

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Originally Posted by shorthorn View Post
Framer,

Can you clarify what you mean by "doing it properly will not build thatch"? Do you mean just mowing on time, and not mulching when it is really tall, or how exactly do you prevent thatch buildup when mulching?
Mulching the grass particles smaller which decompose faster building humus.

Benefits of soil organic matter and humus

Spring is one of the four temperate seasons. Spring marks the transition from winter into summer....
The mineralization process that converts raw organic matter to the relatively stable substance that is humus feeds the soil population of micro-organisms and other creatures, thus maintaining high and healthy levels of soil life 

The rate at which raw organic matter is converted into humus promotes (when fast) or limits (when slow) the coexistence of plants, animals and microbes in terrestrial ecosystems

Humus can hold the equivalent of 80–90% of its weight in moisture, and therefore increases the soil's capacity to withstand drought conditions.

Effective and stable humus (see below) are further sources of nutrients to microbes, the former providing a readily available supply while the latter acts as a more long-term storage reservoir.

Humification of dead plant material causes complex organic compounds to break down into simpler forms, which are then made available to growing plants for uptake through their root systems.

Humus is a colloid. A colloid is a type of chemical mixture where one substance is dispersed evenly throughout another. The particles of the dispersed substance are only suspended in the mixture, unlike a solution, where they are completely dissolved within....
al substance, and increases the soil's cation exchange capacity
particles Clay is a naturally occurring material composed primarily of fine-grained minerals, which show plasticity through a variable range of water content, and which can be hardened when dried and/or fired.... (the degree to which a soil can adhere to and exchange cations. Soil particles and organic matter have negative charges on their surfaces.  Mineral cations can adsorb to the negative surface charges or the inorganic and organic soil particles.  Once adsorbed, these minerals are not easily lost when the soil is leached by water and they also provide a nutrient reserve available to plant roots); thus while these nutrient cations are accessible to plants, they are held in the soil safe from leaching away by rai.  

The biochemical structure of humus enables it to moderate — or buffer — excessive acid. An acid is traditionally considered any chemical compound that, when dissolved in water, gives a solution with a hydrogen ion Activity greater than in pure water, i.e....  or alkaline soil conditions.

During the humification process, microbes secrete sticky gums; these contribute to the crumb structure of the soil by holding particles together, allowing greater aeration. Aeration is the process by which air is circulated through, mixed with or solvation in a liquid or substance....  of the soil. Toxic substances such as heavy metals.
A heavy metal is a member of an ill-defined subset of elements that exhibit metallic properties, which would mainly include the transition metals, some metalloids, lanthanides, and actinides....
, as well as excess nutrients, can be chelated (that is, bound to the complex organic molecules of humus) and prevented from entering the wider ecosystem. An ecosystem is a natural unit consisting of all plants, animals and micro-organisms in an area functioning together with all of the non-living physical factors of the environment....

The dark color of humus (usually black or dark brown) helps to warm up cold soils in the spring.

Here in South Carolina, most of the soil is sterile! The humus level (depth) is only about 1 inch where there is grass. Mulching and natural decomposition builds humus making the lawn healthier. Fertilization makes the grass green but a green lawn in not necessarily a healthy lawn. It can become a "junky" for fertilizatin.

I mulch and recommend mulching just to build humus and a healthier lawn.

Steve
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  #5  
Old 05-15-2009, 12:24 AM
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I mulch all my lawns. I talk my new customers out of bagging for a couple reasons. First of all bagging wastes a lot of time and I would have to charge them considerably more. Secondly most experts will tell you that mulching is at least equivalent to 1 fertilization. I don't sell my customers more than 4 applications of fertilization to begin with because in my opinion more than that is overkill especially if your mulching.
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  #6  
Old 05-15-2009, 12:38 AM
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I bag only. If you have crabgrass in your area, you most likely would do the same. Crabgrass is spread by clippings and seed, so unless my neighbors want a yard with nothing but crabgrass, I bag everything.
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Old 05-15-2009, 12:43 AM
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Default Nature's Magic

Quote:
Originally Posted by turfmaster View Post
I mulch all my lawns. I talk my new customers out of bagging for a couple reasons. First of all bagging wastes a lot of time and I would have to charge them considerably more. Secondly most experts will tell you that mulching is at least equivalent to 1 fertilization. I don't sell my customers more than 4 applications of fertilization to begin with because in my opinion more than that is overkill especially if your mulching.
I agree! You and your customer's lawn will bennifit more from a product like Nature's Magic.

Nature’s Magic

ffice:word" anchory="line">Nature's Magic is a blend of two of the best soil activators and plant health products in the world: Humic Acid (often called liquid humus) and Seaweed (kelp). It serves three major functions that result in better soil and plant health: >>
  1. It helps detoxify and buffer chemicals and salts that prevent bioactivity in the soil.
  2. It helps generate the soil-improving microbes necessary for good soil structure, bioactivity and plant health.
  3. It provides numerous plant trace nutrients and biostimulants.
The Humic Acid in Nature's Magic is a full 17% solution, the highest level we know of. If you check other liquid humic acid products, you'll find they won't exceed 12% strength.

Here are just some of the many benefits of Nature's Magic.
  • Bioactivates both clay and sandy soils and increases Organic Matter
  • Buffers harsh chemical salts or chlorides found in many commercial fertilizers
  • Provides carbon which feeds beneficial soil microbes
  • Improves soil structure and aeration * see important note below
  • Stimulates root growth and supports most plant functions
  • Unlocks and chelates major and minor nutrients. Reduces fertilizer needs.
  • Improves plant's ability to capture (fix) atmospheric nitrogen
  • Prevents Thatch buildup and helps stimulate the decomposition of existing Thatch
  • Increases earthworm activity
  • Makes iron and other nutrients more available in poor pH soils
  • Improves plant resistance to disease, insects and other stress
  • Supplies over 30 micro-nutrients and vitamins
  • Increases nutrient density in pasture grasses and silage
  • Works as a catalyst for both soil regeneration and plant growth
  • Contains 58.2% Humic Acid and 41.8% Seaweed
  • Safe and environmentally safe. See the Material Safety Data Sheet.
Steve

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Old 05-15-2009, 05:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shorthorn View Post
Framer,

Can you clarify what you mean by "doing it properly will not build thatch"? Do you mean just mowing on time, and not mulching when it is really tall, or how exactly do you prevent thatch buildup when mulching?
There are a few things that we do and do not do that yeilds us excellent results.

We do not mow in the rain or mow wet grass

We use Gator High Lift mulching blades, I am sure there are other brands, I have a lot of friends and clients using them and the results are bang on.

We keep our blades sharp, I bought a few sharpeners from Lee Valley that attach to a cordless drill, it takes about 10 min tops to sharpen the three blades for example on the X500's

We mow weekly, if the grass is too long the results are not the greatest

We alternate mowing direction and keep track of how the lawn was last mowed

All of our equipment is designed for mulching, some will take a regular discharge mower, put a mulching blade on and expect mulching results, that is generally not what happens.

Hope this helps and have a great weekend!

Andy
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Old 05-17-2009, 06:03 PM
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What about yards with alot of leaves? If I run a mulch a yard it will look horrible.
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Old 05-17-2009, 06:06 PM
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Quote:
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What about yards with alot of leaves? If I run a mulch a yard it will look horrible.
Running the gators, if I go over the leaves three times, basically there isn't anything left but powder and it's great for the lawns in many ways, did some reading this morning on leaves, I didn't realize that they will actually break down compacted soil, article written by a professional gardner in Victoria British Columbia.
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