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Hi,

I have a 54HC deck on a 2016 x739. As we prepare for spring here in America's Dairyland, I want to get ready to mow. Some questions:
  • What is the best/most durable striping solution for this deck? Is it the "brush" deck-mounted model from JD? The Big League Lawns roller? Other?
  • I mulch my lawn 100% of the time, so I'm planning to install G6 Gator Blades. Any concerns with that?
  • Given I'll run the mulching blades, do I need the mulching kit for the deck? If I install it, would I need to remove it before bagging leaves in the fall?
Thanks for the tips - anything else I should be considering?


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The mulching baffles block the side discharge, so it depends on what you plan on doing with the leaves and how many you get.

Last year, I used my PowerFlow bagger to pick up the leaves I ran over. I worked pretty well, but it fills up fast and it has significant blow out, which makes it harder to get a clean surface.

Unless you only get one or two leaves per sq yd, I would think that just running over them with the mulching deck would overwhelm your lawn with leaf debris.

I would try the gator blades without the mulch kit and see if you like the cut quality. I have heard some people really like it.
 

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Roller Striping Kits for HC decks

BUC10610 for 54inch deck $408.74

BUC10611 for 60inch deck $399.11

Whats funny the 60inch Kit cost less than the 54inch kit (y)
Screenshot_2021-04-07 Roller striping attachment for X700 Series Tractor High Capacity (HC) Mo...png
 

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Welcome to the MTF, bedn0009!
America's Dairyland? So, you live in California? Just kidding! I'm a native of Wisconsin though I left those miserable winters as soon as I could, a long time ago.

I can suggest to get the baffles for the underside of the deck, as they do work. If you mulch mow all the time, why bag the leaves? That is the purpose of the mulching method of mowing, to give the nutrients of decomposing matter back to the soil, leaves work just as well as grass.
Leaves? I have leaves year round, the camphor trees and the magnolia trees have just shed theirs (yeah, April), though one can't tell from the trees themselves as they are still full. I blow mine into a long low pile and pass over them with the deck at the highest setting and with a few passes, there are no more leaves. They have been reduced to tiny pieces. Yes, sitting in the tractor seat and looking down one can see the tiny pieces, but from afar they are gone. The next week you can't even see them.
People think that when they gather up those massive quantities of leaves that there is no other method to get rid of them other than bagging. Mulching works great for them.
 

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Hmm, you must get a lot fewer leaves than we do. Even though I live in the Evergreen State, I have a lot of trees that drop their leaves in the Fall (maple, cottonwood, alder mainly) and lots of brushes too. It would overwhelm my grass even if I mulched them all and left them in place. I tried one year, it made a mess and the grass really didn't like it. You must have fewer trees/leaves per square foot. I also have about 1/2 acre of driveway that gets a lot of leaves and mulching them on top of the driveway would not help it at all. Previously, I would blow leaves off of the grass and driveway into the woods. That sort of works, but does overwhelm the edges. Last year, I used the PowerFlow bagger and it worked better and was easier. I ended up with a few cubic yards of mulched leaves, but the 2 bagger fills up very quickly and it took many trips to the pile to empty the bags. Of course, I have WAY more trees/leaves than lawn. Some parts of the country have very few trees, so my experience would not be applicable there.
 

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Chuckling, Frogmore!
On my 1.25 acre property, I have 10 mature pecan trees, a couple of hickory, one or two maple, one large magnolia, eight camphor, 3 huge water oaks, 7 longleaf pines and some I don't know or care. Across the creek and across the county highway are several acre untouched forests. Some are evergreen, some aren't and they drop the leaves year round, I have removed the mimosa and palm trees, but others around me have them. So, yeah, I don't get the one big huge drop in the Fall. The magnolia leaves are a pain because they are just huge. Think of a single leaf that is up to 12 or more inches long, 3-4 inches wide.
On Google maps, you can't see a good portion of the land and just glimpses of the house & sheds from the tree cover. When I first moved here almost 6 years ago, I did the sweeper thing and had many huge piles of leaves. Where I am, garbage pick up only empties the rolling can, they do not pick up anything next to it, ever. That's when I started searching for a solution and here on MTF, I discovered mulching. It worked for me and it worked fantastic. There is a learning curve that many simply don't do as they think it is exactly like side discharge or bagging, it's not. You have to allow time for the mulching blades to do their thing inside the sealed deck.
 

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The mulching baffles block the side discharge, so it depends on what you plan on doing with the leaves and how many you get.

Last year, I used my PowerFlow bagger to pick up the leaves I ran over. I worked pretty well, but it fills up fast and it has significant blow out, which makes it harder to get a clean surface.

Unless you only get one or two leaves per sq yd, I would think that just running over them with the mulching deck would overwhelm your lawn with leaf debris.

I would try the gator blades without the mulch kit and see if you like the cut quality. I have heard some people really like it.
It's a different brand (Cub Cadet, with their mulching kit & blades installed). But the pictures in this linked post showed the leaves on an area of the yard before mowing, after 1 mulching pass, and after a 2nd mulching pass.

I found it to be pretty effective on the leaves. And using better mulching blades (I'd try Gators, based on my past experiences, and other people with similar Cubs) might give better results.

Box Scraper
 

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If it's working for you that is great. Your heaviest accumulation of leaves is about equal to what one week will provide in many of the lighter accumulation areas and there is typically 4 to 6 weeks of them falling.

But, you are correct that I have not tried it with an actual mulching deck going really slowly. Since much of the area that I have to maintain is driveway (there is a lot of area that is "woods" without trails, so all natural) I need something to get the leaves off of it, or it really degrades the surface.

I now have a mulching insert for my 54 deck on the X749, so maybe I will try that this year.
 

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I'm certainly not trying to tell anyone how to handle their leaves :) Just sharing my experience. Specifically this example, since I took the few minutes to kind of document how it performed. And the before/after/after-after helps show how it did.

This isn't the total crop of leaves, of course, this was just the crop for that week's mowing.

I don't notice leaf buildup. However, the other day, in a different area of the yard that gets more leaves, I did notice some leftover leaf bits sitting there from last fall. This is an area that I stripped and re-seeded last fall, so the grass is also kind of thin.

But that's the only time I'd say that I've noticed a buildup of leaves, with our specific conditions. And in this worse area, I could have blown them into the woods, if I wanted.

Again, I hope it didn't come off wrong, didn't mean to sound like I was obnoxiously disagreeing with anyone. Just sharing how my (new-to-me) setup has performed for me.
 

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I took it as you sharing what works for you. Seeing your leaves was helpful in comparison to what I remember (I don't have any pictures, but will try and remember to take some this year).

I am looking to learn what works for other people. I definitely don't believe I know it all. I do have opinions about things and will generally say why I believe something.

I have a mulching 21" mower. It works remarkably well for the grass around the house, but not so well with the leaves.
 

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Yeah, I don't often get lighting conditions, for instance, where I can show multiple views like that. But doing it on a weekend afternoon like that helped.

I've found mulching the leaves to be a great solution for our yard. Nutrients go back in, and it's quick & easy. Plus now, with a hydro vs gears, I can slow down just a little in dense areas. The great majority of the yard gets 1 pass. Sometimes I'll do a fast second pass on the dense areas.

Someone with the same deck got better mulching results with Gator blades, vs the Cub blades that I'm using. I'm curious to try those, but figured I'd start with the Cub blades, since I paid for them (came as part of the kit).

Bagging definitely looks nicer, but takes longer, and I don't have a bagger for this tractor. It would cost 2/3 of what I paid for the tractor. So, for me, mulching it is! :)
 
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