How to Choose the Right Mower Blade

How to Choose the Right Mower Blade

Posted July 30, 2014 by 7 Comments

High-lift, mulching, 2-in-1, 3-in-1 . . . Which one do I choose?

Lifting Blades (Standard, 2-in-1)

Lifting Mower Blades

Uses: Bag or Side Discharge

Lifting blades, also known as the standard or 2-in-1 type of mower blades, are designed with a slight curve along the edges. This curve creates the lifting air flow, which pulls the grass up to be cut by the blade.

Lifting blades are ideal for bagging or side discharging purposes to quickly and efficiently move the grass clippings out from the deck. Do not use a lifting blade with a mulching kit.


  • High Lift
  • Medium Lift
  • Low Lift

Typically, the greater the lift, the greater the horsepower that’s required. Use a high lift blade when mowing through taller dense grass.

Mulching Blades

Mulching Blade

Uses: Mulching

Mulching blades, also known as 3-in-1 blades, are designed with a greater curved surface, and often have several or longer cutting surfaces along the edges. This allows the grass to recirculate beneath the deck to be cut several times. The resulting smaller grass clippings are ideal for mulch, as they will decompose faster into the soil.

Use mulching blades when you don’t want to bag or side discharge your clippings. If you’ve equipped your mower with a mulching kit, ensure you’re using mulching blades.


  • Standard Mulching Blades
  • Gator Mulching Blades (G3, G5, G6)

Gator blades are designed with angled teeth on each end of the blade. The teeth are angled toward the center of the blade, which guide the grass to the cutting edge over and over again.

Mower Blade Selection

Select a replacement mower blade based on how you prefer to cut your grass. Do you like to bag, side discharge, or mulch?

Lifting Blades: Bagging and Side Discharge
Mulching Blades: Mulching

Also, refer to your owner’s manual for replacement blade recommendations and blade removal safety.

Shop for Mower Blades »


  1. Keith keogh
    on July 31, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    I have new Craftsman 22″ model #917.370921 and the original blade #33256 which does not mulch that well.
    Would another mulching blade work better and if yes which one?
    It is amazing how much crud collects under the deck.

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  2. Stephen
    on July 31, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    What about blades for ride on mowers. The blades shown in this blog are not the same as those fitted to a disc on the underside of a ride on mower, such as a Cox.

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    • Chris Skon
      on August 1, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      Mower blades for riders pretty much follow the same guide lines. The disks that you are refering to are called “blade adaptors” and are there to attach the blade to the spindle shaft bottom. On a regular mower, most blades attache to a blade adaptor that is bolted directly to the bottom of the crankshaft of the motor. On a rider, the motor is attached to the blades by either a belt or a driveshaft. Consult your owners manual for recommended blade type or number and then ask a dealer at a local repair shop for recommendations on a blade type to fit your preference of mowing, be it side disharge, bagging, or mulching.

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    • trert
      on December 25, 2014 at 6:54 am

      This is an Americal web site so Cox being an Australian designed & manufactured brand unlike most others which are rebranded USA mowers will be totally unknown to the authors.
      There are no mulching swing back blades for your Cox.
      The best you can do is to fit a pair of high lift ( bagging blades ) with a pair of no flute ( slashing ) blades and a mulching plate to block off the discharge chute.

      I have done this for several customers but the down side is you will have to mow a lot slower because as the blog says, mulching robs a lot of power. So while you will gain from not having windrows or having to rake & bag you will loose the most desireable feature of these great machines , the incrediable speed from such a small motor.

      You will also have to mow a lot more as the “mulched grass” has to be able to fall back between the remaining grass in order to “vanish” so you really should only be mowing the top 1/4 off your lawn which will need to be at least 2″ high. Too much cut grass will smother your lawn and may even lead to massive weed invasions if you are cutting too close with mulching set up.

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  3. Dave
    on June 8, 2015 at 11:27 am

    Would it be okay to use Gator (mulching) blades on a Gravely ZTR (52″ mowing deck) but side discharge the clippings rather keeping a mulching plate attached to the discharge chute? Not sure if this is one of those “proverbial dumb questions” or not. Thanks.

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    • joe
      on June 8, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      I use gator mulching blades with my 54″ Bobcat ZT with side discharge, not the mulching plate. The grass gets chewed up real fine and disappears into the lawn. You have to mow a little slower and you might have to go over it again to make the clippings totally disappear, but the gator blades are far superior to regular lift blades, IMO.

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  4. Dave
    on June 9, 2015 at 11:50 am

    I have a Snapper Deck with a 4.5 horse Honda engine on it. I bought a mulch cover for the deck to replace my Hi-Vac bag, because I read how great mulching, the grass you already cut, was for free fertilizer. I had a standard Snapper blade on my mower, and it left long blades of grass on my lawn. When I realized that I didn’t have the correct blade for mulching, I consulted my owners manual and discovered that the Snapper Ninja blade was the correct application to use with the mulching cover for my deck. After purchasing and installing the Ninja blade my mower mulches beautifully. It does make a mess of the underside of the deck, but for all that free fertilizer, a little extra time cleaning up is worth it; and my lawn thanks me by looking amazing! I don’t even bother using the bag to get rid of the fall leaves anymore, I just mulch everything up, during fall clean up, and the cut up leaves leave a nice layer on the ground for winter/early spring fertilizer. Go mulching blades!

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