View Full Version : Bagging vs. Mulching/discharge

05-02-2006, 12:46 AM
What ups and downs do you guys see for the two. I just started bagging all of my yards this year and I can say that I am happy so far. for me it has been faster because I never have to double cut, and there is less cleanup time. and I never get grass in the garden beds so it eliminates some complaints. What do you guys do with your clippings. We have 20 acres to use so we are composting them along with our biodegradable debris from landscape jobs. Then if all goes well we will have alot of compost to sell next year. What do you guys do and why. I am just curious to see what others are doing and why it is being done that way.

05-02-2006, 12:55 AM
I dont like to bag because Im not really set up for it.

I dont discharge anymore because I dont like the way it looks, I do alot of tightly landscaped areas so clippings are going where I dont want them to.

So I started mulching everything...I think it looks great, no clippings where I dont want them..less overall cleanup time too.

05-02-2006, 01:09 AM
I used to mulch, but many of my yards in a week will grow too tall, so they would clump. I really like clean though, I don't even miss discharging.

TNLC owners
05-02-2006, 08:51 AM
After the last two weeks of discharging each account and cleaning up the lawn from the long, wet grass left behind, I'm thinking about going to bagging exclusively. I already have a grass catcher for my WB, but the ZTR is another story. I have a Gravely 152z. I would need to get some type of a collection system for this mower. Most of my lawns are relatively small, less than 20,000K. What type of equipment are you using to bag all the time? I would also probably have to raise rates slightly in order to cover for the additional time it would take to bag everything. I'm not sure that in my area customers are willing to pay a little extra for this additional service, but it could be a way to gain competitive advantage, I'm still undecided on this issue, but it's hard to leave a lawn knowing you could make it look better.

05-02-2006, 09:16 PM
A weeks growth in florida where it rains everyday in the summer.....Emark 60" 28 fuel injected Kohler mulches with NO PROBLEM...exmarks have always mulched well for us

05-02-2006, 11:27 PM
We bag all residentials and small areas of the commercial properties. And side discharge the large areas. Never been able to mulch a lawn so it looks good. Mulching only works if the grass is short, thin and dry. So its just as easy to bag it. I refuse to double cut anything.
As you said, mulching creates more of a mess than bagging, more grass mush on the sidewalks, which we have a lot of.

05-03-2006, 12:39 AM
How do the bagging systems perform in wet conditions?

Dependable Mowing
05-03-2006, 01:01 AM
It really depends on the conditions. He're in our area, the grass almost never dries out completely this time of year. Most of the yards are a mix of grass, clover, and weeds, which can really clog the decks, so mulching isn't a good option for us. Side discharging is quicker than bagging, and if there are too many clippings, we just go over it again in certain areas. We have to anyway, usually, because of dandelions. Those things never want to be cut... If you have fairly dry conditions, and the grass doesn't grow a lot in a week, then mulching may be the best bet.

05-03-2006, 01:42 PM
ok so WHAT do you guys do if some lawns you need to bag, some lawns you need to mulch then you have large yards you can discharge?:cry:

ive had people with tiny lawns ask me to bag, like yeah the ZTR barely fits through spots in their property to begin with, im not going to walk my 34" mower AND bag for "similar" prices, no way if it takes twice as long.

Others have asked me to mulch. My walkbehind has a mulch kit that doesnt take too long to install/reinstall. The ZTR doesnt have a mulch kit but ive seen it and its pretty much ON or OFF, your not going to be taking it on and off every other lawn.

I cant satisfy everyone, i dont bag ANYTHING but a couple tiny front yards just for customers who already pay a "fair" amount for this work in my book.

How can you BAG an entire 3/4 acre lawn if its high? id have a whole pickup truck load of grass after one damn $40 lawn.

Ive always had complaints from mulching, over time you will not get a nice smooth cut with mulching tall grass, i can mulch thin or light grass no problem, mulching was not meant for bi-weekly services or fertalized lawns that your cutting 2+" of grass off the top per week.

05-04-2006, 03:43 AM
I just bag all of my yards under 1/2 acre. We use 48 exmark walkbehinds. I have knoticed that the yards don't tend to grow as tall after they have been bagged for several weeks. I only discharge my big yards, then I have to bouble cut them to make them look good.

05-04-2006, 10:03 PM
How do the bagging systems perform in wet conditions?

I have an 05 Scag Tiger Cub, 48in, high-lifts with the 20hp Kohler and the Scag 3 bag catcher. I've tried my best to clog it and I can't - I cut to 3.5in and the most I've ever attempted to collect is about 5-6 inch grass. It has clogged when I forgot to reach back and feel the bags and the catcher over filled. I think if the system has a good blower clogging won't be an issue - even in wet conditions. I knocked the duct off the blower once brushing a stiff branch - it spackled the outside of the duct and the right rear side of the mower with ground up grass - so it moves stuff up the pipe pretty damn fast. It increases the work time by about 20% and definitely burns more gas and is harder on the engine (added weight and work) - so I think it's fair to factor that into your price. I can get about 0.5 acres of decent 4-5 inch grass in one dump. - john.

05-04-2006, 10:08 PM
I don't bag, I have zero bag accounts.

It took some doing and time, but life is good right now.

P & L Turf
05-04-2006, 10:16 PM
I bag certain smaller jobs that have asked for it and are also paying extra for it. Sometimes, for certain jobs, I may cut it first and then go back through on a higher setting and bag it up if it's bad. As far as mulching, the only time I use the mulch kit is on our clean up jobs that have overwhelming amounts of leaves. I'll keep chomping up the leaves with that before we send in the goosen vac. This helps to half of the trips to empty the machine. As far as what I do with the debris, I mound up all the grass and dirt and stuff like that, and I'm building a berm around the backside of my property and down part of the sides. It'll take awhile to get it long and high enough, but what the heck, it's free and I've got to do something with it. Why not put it to good use?:usflag:

05-05-2006, 07:48 PM
I recall the last time I bagged a lawn. It was tall Fescue, somewhat overgrown, about 1/3+ acre of lawn. Just really thick. I didn't fill the truck bed with clippings. I filled it once and had to go dump it and return to get the rest! 4 hours later, I had my $45. Worst estimating job ever.

Not that mulching would have worked either. But bagging just eats up too much time and effort to be profitable. I zip through Bermuda lawns mulching now that I used to dread bagging.

Jason Rose
05-05-2006, 09:07 PM
Welcome to Kansas... In this town nearly everyone bags everything all the time, the guys that don't aren't around very long...

ONE weeks growth, fescue that is not at all over fertilized is 3 to 4 inches average. I have seen, and mowed, 6 to 7 inches of growth off of lawns before in ONE weeks time.

Something about being in the "transition zone" here. Growing cool season grasses in this region is like grass on crack...

I attempted the mulching thing too a couple years ago, invested in an Exmark 52" lazer Z HP with a mulch kit. After spending all my time cleaning up piles of slime grass everywhere and the horrible results I ended up selling the machine. Most guys here, including myself, have dump bed trucks to haul the clippings. Usually can get a days worth in the truck. I do cut lawns that are small to large, some as large as 1 to 2 acres, all bagged. Fun? NO. I envy the guys I read of on here that can go out and mow all day and not have any grass to haul...

05-06-2006, 01:12 AM
Bagging really, really sucks...... So we fixed it the easy way. We let the customer decide. One price bagged, another price mulched. We mulch 95% of the yards we do and the other 5%, 99% of those keep the grass. I am seriously considering dropping all bagging customers. Takes to much time, but we do get paid more for it.

05-06-2006, 02:56 AM
We do whatever is necessary for that lawn and customer. Some absolutely have to be bagged and we charge accordingly. All my mowers are set up with easy on and off bagging systems so that we can discharge or bag without any changeover time. I even have two that will convert to mulch easily too.

06-10-2006, 09:56 AM
I just bag all of my yards under 1/2 acre. We use 48 exmark walkbehinds. I have knoticed that the yards don't tend to grow as tall after they have been bagged for several weeks. I only discharge my big yards, then I have to bouble cut them to make them look good.

They don't grow as tall because you're taking all the nutrients away!!

Discharge or mulch!

06-10-2006, 10:20 AM
They don't grow as tall because you're taking all the nutrients away!!

Discharge or mulch!
Thats what I say^...If the grass is to tall and you have to double cut/Bag /Rake...Then it sounds like the grass is too long...or your cutting it too short??...May be you have to cut every 5 days instead of 7 days...Remember 1/3 of the blade to be cut...Not Half.
I,m a great believer of mulching...Bagging only and it never has been requested.

06-11-2006, 01:56 AM
lol... I had a few departed accounts that were 15 acres that were hinting at bagging certain areas. After I nearly choked, I laughed and walked away...:walking:

Lawncutting is so tight as it is, bagging is adding insult to injury ;)

Must be a better way to get tortured than to bag...:dizzy:

06-11-2006, 02:50 AM
I started out mulching everything. Had a fair amount of customer turnover. Also spent a ridiculous amount of time blowing. I was anal and refused to allow my lawns to take any longer than a dollar a minute...

I have repented of my ways, however, and now exclusively bag. My retention levels are far better, the lawns look much nicer, and due to less mess to blow: I'm not taking much longer at all. Still mostly within my dollar-a-minute expectations...

Yes, I have to run to the dump to empty my truck, but I retain thousands of dollars a year in business and am happier with my work. Well worth the sacrifice for me.