Mulching Tip for 21" mowers

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   I have found that if you mow your yard in a square pattern instead of straight back and forth rows, you can eliminate the look of rows of poorly mulched clippings left behind along the left side of your 21" mower. Starting on the outside edge of your yard with the left side of the mower facing the inside of the square. Keep going in a square until you finish in the middle of your yard. As you cut, just overlap a couple inches on the right side so it will recut the clippings that came from the left side of the mower on the previous pass. When your done you won't see any rows of clippings left behind. It worked for me. This tip is just a work around and is not a cure for this mowers poor mulching ability and lack of suction/lift. 
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Gerry Litvin

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Posted 3 years ago

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Jacob

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Everyone should know that a proper mulching blade, DOES NOT create a lot of lift. Its supposed to circulate the air. A high lift blade would only make mulching worse as it would not let the grass circulate
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Jennifer VandeWater, Community Manager

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Hi Rob, I actually didn't know that the high-lift blades were made for bagging only until early this week. I'm sorry I forgot to update everyone here. :(  We are definitely continuously investigating these complaints and really do appreciate everyone offering their feedback.  
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Rob

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Fair enough. Thanks for the info.
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Dave .

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Jen, does that mean that the HL blade increases the vacuuming efficacy of the mower, over the standard blade?
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Blue Angel, Champion

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Based on what I've read, High Lift blades are designed for more lift, yes, but will not mulch. They are intended for bagging and/or discharge mowing only.

You can read more at this link from Troy-Bilt:
http://www.troybilt.com/webapp/wcs/st...

Or at this link from MTD:
http://www.mtdparts.com/equipment/mtd...

I would assume Ego is following the same design theme based on what Jen has told us so far.

EDIT: Dave, sorry to jump in when your question was directed to Jen, but I felt I could link to some useful and factual information. Jen can add to this or correct it if Ego's internal info is different from what I posted. :-)
(Edited)
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Jennifer VandeWater, Community Manager

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Blue is correct based on what I know as well. More lift but not a better mulch.
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John

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Is this a peculiarity of the 21"? I don't experience that  with the 20". 
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Blue Angel, Champion

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Gotcha! So it sounds like our experiences aren't too different then.

Since going on a serious fertilizer and overseeding plan, my lawn is finally starting to look good... I've never been able to say that before! I've let it grow taller now that the grass is much stronger and healthier, and I just cut it for the first time on setting 5!

I'm quite excited about it really, it's looking pretty good. I tried cutting it on setting 4 a few times last year and it just wasn't growing tall or strong enough to look good.

After a few cuts at this height I'll get a better feeling for how well the mower does. Being the first time cut at this height I don't think it was actually as thick as it will likely be next time. Had lots of rain on Sunday, things are looking up! :-)
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David Cline, Champion

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I agree, with my 20" I absolutely couldn't go more than 5 days between cuts during peak growing season in May/June, and had much less difficulty if I cut it after only 3-4 days.

I part with others in that my troubles were not so much poor mulching as constant overload shutoffs. Of course with all the blade starting, bogging down, and stopping when overload protection kicked in, mulching was nearly non-existent. More importantly, the 30-45 minute task of mowing would take 2-3 hours EXTRA.

I am so thrilled that the 21" is virtually impossible to overload and my grass is getting cleanly cut that the size and distribution of clippings and overall mulching quality is more of an afterthought to me.

The 21" might not be perfect, but it's infinitely better than the 20" in thick Bermuda grass.
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Steve Valdes

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My successful mulching with the 20" mower is based on the grass being cut on a regular weekly bases. If it is too overgrown mulching performance would suffer and bagging is required. I don't recall the grass ever looking like it was only cut once and a line of cuttings happening on the left side with the 20".
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Brad Carey

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David: Is that 21" the push or SP? I have Bermuda grass and I'm unable to decide between the two. My yard is fairly flat and not that large so I don't think I would ever use the SP functionality.  I can cut it in about 20-25 min with one pass of the Reel (although I almost always struggle through two passes). I'm considering the SP only because of the stronger motor, as I understand it.
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Brad Carey

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David: Is that 21" the push or SP? I have Bermuda grass and I'm unable to decide between the two. My yard is fairly flat and not that large so I don't think I would ever use the SP functionality.  I can cut it in about 20-25 min with one pass of the Reel (although I almost always struggle through two passes). I'm considering the SP only because of the stronger motor, as I understand it.
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Gerry Litvin

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I have never used the 20".  Others that have used both have stated that it is a peculiarity of the 21" push or S.P.  Apparently the 20" mowers did not have the visable rows of clippings along the left side of the mower when in mulching mode.
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Blue Angel, Champion

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Although this issue does exist for some owners, I do feel the need to point out not only the stellar reviews these mowers have received by popular channels (we're all aware), but also the impressive reviews posted by customers on Home Depot's website.

As of now, the reviews for the Self Propelled model, both as a kit and bare tool:



And for the push model, both in kit and bare tool form:



I'm not trying to downplay the issue, just trying to keep things in perspective... well over 95% of reviewers would recommend these mowers.
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Blue Angel, Champion

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Gerry, I honestly don't know if exchanging for a new one is worth a try or not.

In a case like this it's impossible to tell how widespread the issue actually is. There's a chance that some people have the issue and don't realize it, or don't care, or simply don't have a lawn thick enough to cause it. I can tell you, based on the way the average person in my neighborhood (doesn't) care for their lawn, most of them would likely give any battery mower a 5 star review simply because it's more convenient than what they were using before. The less effort involved in "caring" for their property the better!

I guess what I'm saying is, I don't know if there's a variation in the mowers themselves, or whether the issue is dependent on some blend of subjectivity and mowing conditions... I tend to think the latter is more likely. I doubt the CR report was covering anything up, they likely just didn't have conditions that demonstrated the problem.

It would be VERY interesting if two 21"'mower owners, one with the issue and one without, could trade mowers and see if the issue follows the mower or stays with the environment.
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Blue Angel, Champion

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Building on what Rob said regarding Champions, it's not easy sometimes to keep a positive and constructive conversation going without sounding like a mindless cheerleader. I certainly enjoy taking part here and I wouldn't do it if that were not the case.

I know that trying to put a positive spin on a thread focusing on an issue is not really helping solve the problem, I apologize for that. Perhaps the best thing to do would have been to simply start a new thread about the HD reviews? Looking back it does somewhat appear to be a hijack of the topic.

Anyway, I do try to feed a constructive environment, and Gerry's original post was indeed very constructive.
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David Cline

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Exchanging the mower would be a very informative data point if the new mower performed better. However the only contributor here that has tried two different mowers, Steve, saw similar performance from both.
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AJ

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I would be very surprised if any two mowers produced different results.  My understanding is that the motor is computer controlled so the speed of rotation is likely very close across all mowers.  And the shape of the blades is likely within a few thousandth's of an inch.

I suspect that the difference is in the type of grass.  My lawn is a variety of fescue with very fine blades.  Does it make sense that thin blades of grass require move suction to pick up because individual blades of grass have less surface area?
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Blue Angel, Champion

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My gut feeling is the same, AJ, that it's more of an environment thing than a mower-to-mower variation.
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Jacob

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Thats not always true. My 20" mower, when the deck clogs up, does leave clippings. Mow at night with it sometime. You will see the clippings clump up. But they are shredded.
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David Cline, Champion

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Yeah, when my 20" would bog down and overload, not only would I have a dozen unplanned 10 minute breaks, but my yard would have lines of clippings, clumps of grass everywhere, uncut spots, the works.

The 21" has NONE of these overload issues. Absolutely flawless.
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Gerry Litvin

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Wow, It sounds like the 20" had worse problems than my 21". I have only used my 21" 4 times and have never had it bog down or overload yet.
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John

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I've only mowed with my 20" a few times. The first time the yard had 2 weeks growth and the mower went right through it with no problem. No bogging down or overload indications. The wife couldn't believe it.


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Blue Angel, Champion

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My 20" is far more powerful than the corded Black & Decker we had before. I can overload it on thicker sections, but overall it does very well.

The only time I see any issue with mulching is when pushing it into overload, but that takes very thick grass at a brisk walking pace on cut height 3 (2.4").
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Gerry Litvin

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What do mower ratings have to do with a tip to help those of us (even if we are the minority) that have spent 500 or 600 and do have a problem with mulching? A tip that may help those of us with a problem when mulching is a much greater benefit than seeing stats that 95 to 98% recommend this product. In case you forgot, CR also recomends these mowers.
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Jacob

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Sorry. We went off on a tangent there. Your problems are extremely important. I just wish i had a 21" mower so I could experience the same issues. I really wish I had some suggestions. All i know, is that my 20" mower has this issue when the bottom of the deck gets saturated with clippings.
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Dave .

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My 21SP doesn't mulch worth a darn--so bad that I've switched to bagging.  Keep in mind that's mowing less than an 1-1/2" off of the grass (leaving the grass cut to 2"), and DRY. (And there is no buildup on the deck)  It doesn't recut the grass.  It cuts the grass ONCE.  I don't consider that "mulching" by any stretch of the imagination.   Positive reviews up the wazoo have nothing to do with the problem of poor mulching performance.  I still love the mower but let's not sweep this issue under the rug with talk of great ratings, please.  That is all irrelevant.
(Edited)
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David Cline, Champion

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Unless you are about to go write a glowing review of your mower then the ratings ARE relevant for understanding how widespread this issue is. Especially for anyone who may be reading this before purchasing and worrying that the mower won't even be able to cut their grass. 95% chance that won't be the case. But that's not dismissive of the issues some people are having. Just keeping things in perspective.
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Dave .

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If I had a car that wouldn't start, do you think I'd really care that it has "glowing" reviews?  Of course not.  I'd want to know how to get it started.  Everything else about the car is irrelevant at that point, same as discussions not related to getting the car started.  Poor mulching is something that's been discussed on this board, on more than one thread.  I experience it too.   Ergo, it's a real problem for me, as well as all the others who experience it.  I can't imagine that any of those individuals want to get into a discussion about the other merits of the mower.  Save that for another thread, please.
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David Cline, Champion

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Dave, no one is making light of the mulching issue or being dismissive of it.
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Gerry Litvin

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Jacob,  My question was really intended for BA.  Unfortunately my 21" Non-SP and several other people here have the mulching issue with a clean underdeck and cutting dry grass. However cutting in the square pattern described above it will virtually eliminate the line of clippings on the left side. If you are bagging this mower works very well.
Since you have the 20" mower you don't need to worry about this issue at all.
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Blue Angel, Champion

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Gerry, as I said, I'm definitely not dismissing the issue or trying to sweep it under the carpet, just trying to keep things in perspective (as DC said).

There has been a lot of negativity on these pages lately about the 21" mulching issue. Lots of people researching a new mower purchase will undoubtedly come across these conversations. That's fine, it's a public forum, but if seemingly everyone here is bashing the mower for the mulching issue it certainly gives the impression a potential buyer would not be happy with it.

Is the 21"'mower perfect? I certainly doubt it, and there seems to be a pretty good case building that demonstrates some percentage of buyers have an issue with mulching performance. But numbers don't lie and it would seem that with 4.7-4.8 overall ratings after hundreds of reviews on HD from real users, the vast majority of people are indeed very satisfied with their mowers.

That's all I'm saying. :-)

Your tip is likely very useful, and I was thinking something similar the other day. I usually overlap slightly when I cut. I was wondering if for people with smaller yards who don't turn the mower around but cut one pass forward and one pass backward, if overlapping slightly and working right to left would help. Not exactly what you proposed, but something similar.
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AJ

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I read a lot of positive reviews of this mower.  I don't doubt that it is the best cordless electric lawn mower available.  However, I very seldom bag, so good mulching is important to me.  If the reviews had mentioned issues with mulching I probably would have bought a gas powered Honda, which in the end will save both me and EGO time and money if I decide to return the EGO.
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Jacob

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Ok. Sorry for wasting your time.
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Exrace

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I would be curious if the underside of the deck has something that is disturbing air flow. Maybe the insert for the mulching option? I have the 21 SP on the way and will defiantly be troubleshooting this myself.
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Dave .

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Although some others on this board have argued the point, I still contend that a mower with dual blades is inherently better at mulching.   My Honda Harmony mower had two blades and it pulverized the grass into very tiny bits.   The Ego 21SP cuts each blade just one time--hardly "mulching", eh?
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Exrace

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I have a 20 year old Honda with a single blade that mulches well...wonder if the blade will fit the Ego? Have to give up on the old girl as the steel deck is slowing returning to the raw materials the deck was made out of...rusting away. Engine is still perfect!  :)
(Edited)
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David Cline

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I've had a Honda that could be retrofitted with a dual blade and one that couldn't but I tried to anyway. Two blades aren't better than one if the deck isn't designed for dual blades.
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Dave .

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I guess part of the reason my Honda Harmony easily sold for $200 after roughly 14 years of use, was that the deck was a super-tough plastic, which goes by the trade name Xenoy.  No dings are cracks and it was very slippery so grass was easily to rinse off of the underside when the occasion arose.
(Edited)
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John S

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Gerry - Thanks for sharing the tip.  I can't wait to try your technique this weekend.

I read reviews about the lift issue before I bought my LM2101.  However, I decided the positive attributes in the feedback out weighed that issue.  Overall, I've very pleased with all my purchases (lawnmower, blower, hedge trimmer & string trimmer).  The LM doesn't pick up leaves embedded in my Florida St. Augustine grass so I occasionally need to rake leaves that would normally be picked up by a good mulching gas mower.  However, on the safety side I never have issues with dangerous projectiles such as stones, etc.

Gerry - Thanks again for taking time to share your idea.

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Gerry Litvin

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Hi John,
   I am curious to know if you got to mow this past weekend and if cutting in the square pattern helped to eliminate the rows of clippings for you. 
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John S

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No. I didn't get a chance to mow over the weekend and now we're getting hit with rain from the tropical storm. Can't wait to try it!
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Gerry Litvin

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Good luck in weathering the storm. Let me know how you make out after you do get a chance to cut again.
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Exrace

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I used my 21 SP for the first time today and noticed this left side clippings issue others have reported. I studied the bottom of the mower and noticed that the blade of this mower does not sit very deep in the mower deck...mine the blade is almost flush with the lower edge of the deck. Wondering if the blade depth into the deck and the height your cutting grass has anything to do with keeping the grass suspended and mulching the clippings?
(Edited)
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John S

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Gerry - I tried your "square pattern" cutting path idea and it worked well!  Thanks for thinking of the idea and sharing it with us.
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Lawrence DIYer

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I think Exrace is on the right track.

I just got my 21" SP this morning and noticed the trail of clippings. After reading the postings here, I started wondering if the problem doesn't exist or is less pronounced on the 20" model, what is the difference? I mean, what is the distance from the tip of the blade to the housing for each model? Does the 21" model have a bigger gap, so that it allows more grass clippings to avoid the blade? If so, maybe what we need is a 21 1/2" blade?!? Or better yet, make a ring insert that has a near-zero clearance to the blade.

Yes, we can overlap the trail of clippings to get rid of them, but doesn't that turn a 21" mower into a 19" mower? This also takes more time, and if you happen to only have one battery and run out before you finish, it can be annoying.
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Art Zasadny

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Another data point here - My lawn is new sod (3 months old) and I treat it with Milorganite and Ringers and water deeply and infrequently. It is not dormant and is a lush, thick dark green and I leave it at 4" (setting 6 on my LM2101). Since it's my 1st season with the new sod, I bag all clippings and I will mulch next year and all subsequent seasons. I mow in a square pattern as suggested by several others as opposed to the "back and forth" pattern and there is never a mess of clippings left behind. 

I mowed my next door neighbor's "most crabgrass and weeds) lawn last night at 2" and mulched it and I did get significant clumping. the lawn was dry but very thick so I went over the lawn a 2nd time and overlapped my passes and all of trhe clippings that were left behind the 1st pass were all cleaned up.

I've ordered the high lift blade through Amazon and when it comes in I'll try these "tests" again to see if it makes any difference. At the end of the day, I'm satisfied with the performance of this mower and I believe it performs as well as and actually a little better than a comparable gas mower.It's lighter, quieter and doesn't smell like gasoline, which makes me want to mow more often, but those are all subjective points and others may not agree.

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