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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good morning all!

I purchased a used X580 in the middle of April and had the dealer install a lever mulch control kit with the JD mulching blades. I have been trying to cut my lawn at 3 1/2" to give the grass a chance to battle it out with the weeds that are now being treated but have noticed the mulching blades with the door open or shut do not do a good job pulling the grass (and dandelion forest earlier this year) up into the blades to be cut. I also noticed last night that the strip of grass next to my driveway that my front wheel usually drive over is between 4-8" long and just laid over...

The only other thing left to try is setting my mowing height lower. The JD manual recommends 1.75-2.75" for finish cutting but that height seems low, especially with my very uneven and bumpy lawn. Swapping to something like gator blades and ditching the mulch kit altogether is my only other option. Thoughts? Some people swear by the mulch kit and some people hate it, I think mine is a love hate relationship currently...
 

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I cut mine at 3.5" currently on my X590 54" with mulch blades/kit installed and for the most part I'm happy with the results. Any higher than that then the lift of the blades are almost nonexistent which can miss more grass. I do notice that because of the mulch blades not lifting quite as high I sometimes will not let the front left wheel go over the grass I'm trying to cut. This obviously is not making most of my deck width but I'm happy with the compromise. I have considered in summer time when is grass is thinner to just switch to the high lift blades with mulch door open when I go above 3.5". I shouldn't have too much grass clippings at higher cut heights and when I get close to a landscaping bed I can just close the door.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I do the same thing by following the edge of the last cut with my wheel so I'm not driving over uncut grass. I've noticed a lack of cut quality though compared to my old side discharge troy bilt. Perhaps with my lawn I just need to stick with hilift blades and stop using the mulching kit or try it again when the quality of grass is improved over the next year or 3.
 

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Mulch mowing is not the exact science that it is purported to be and takes time and experience with your own lawn to get the best results. What works for you and your equipment can be quite different than a neighbor with different equipment or even the same.
Mulch mowing involves a closed cutting deck where the grass is cut numerous times before it falls straight down to the ground. The tractor manufacturers each have their own method of blades that supposedly work with their cutting decks. It may work with their test lawns, but may not work for your lawn.
Mulching blades come in two styles: One uses a wavy blade pattern and the other uses a serrated rear wing in back of the main cutting edge. Neither one is really a high lift blade. High lift is not what you want when mulching as you want the clippings to loft inside the deck as the blades cut them numerous times.

Mulch mowing is also a different critter than side discharging or bagging. You HAVE to allow the time for the blades to cut the grass several times without overloading the deck. When you overload the deck, that is when you get clumps of clippings deposited in your wake. Slowing down the forward speed helps to minimize overloading. With the wavy style mulching blades, one should only be cutting less than an inch of grass at a slow forward speed. The serrated rear wing can handle a deeper cut, again at a slow forward speed.

I mulch mow only year round with the Oregon Gator G6 commercial mulching blades in my yard of mixed grasses & weeds. Only in very thick tall vegetation do I leave any noticeable clippings in my wake which the next rain makes disappear. Leaves drop year round here and they get blown into long low piles that usually get pulverized in one pass with the mulching blades set at the normal cutting height of 3 inches.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I dont think you read my posts quite closely as 90% of what you mentioned I do not have any issues with. Good info though.

I thought the gator blades were a high lift, side discharging, mulching blade. Not to be used with a mulch kit or mulch deck?
 

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Did you measure the blade cutting edge height with the mower on a hard surface?

The dial isn't always set to exact -- and may have been set with different tire pressures.

If you're gonna check the height -- check the tire pressures before you start.

I've read several posts about new mowers with tire pressures above the recommended pressure for cutting. (mine was too high as well)
Lower pressure will also give a larger tire 'footprint'. This increased area in contact with the ground means few 'pounds per square inch' (psi) which may reduce the amount that the grass stays bent over.


In any case, if you're not happy with the current results there is no harm in trying settings that are lower / closer to the manual recommendation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I haven't measured the blade tip from the ground surface but I did check the tire pressures when I leveled the mower after I got it. I guess they could be a psi high now that it has warmed up a bit more.
 

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I haven't measured the blade tip from the ground surface but I did check the tire pressures when I leveled the mower after I got it. I guess they could be a psi high now that it has warmed up a bit more.
You definitely want to check your actual blade height. Also, in cooler weather, 3 to 3.5 inches is the height recommended for cutting by most lawn specialist. Higher in hotter weather to allow the grass to throw more shade on itself.
 

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Another thing to check is to ensure the dealer gave you the correct blades. I have a X590 with a mulch kit. Spent a season wondering why my dad's LX279 was out cutting mine. Even had the dealer look at the mower while in the shop for something else. Only to find out this spring when I went to swap to the high lift blades as you mentioned that the dealer installed 48" mulching blades instead of 54" blades.

I did try the high lift blades with the mulch kit while I waited on new mulching blades, it did not perform well at all. Granted in the spring unless I can mow every two to three days it becomes to tall/wet to mulch.
 

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This is the tool you want for leveling the deck by measuring the height of the blades off the ground. Your Operators Manual mentions two methods of leveling the deck - a "Quick" method using a little plastic tool located under the seat, and an "Optional" method using this measuring tool. Do the process on a level, hard surface; I pull my tractor into the middle of the garage to have room to get around it.

 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I jacked up my mower a few days ago to check that the blades didn't have any major nicks in them and to check that the decks wasn't coated in old clippings and the blades appeared to be the correct size.

Cant I just use a measuring tape at the discharge to verify blade height?
 

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There are many misconceptions about mulch mowing. It is very different than simply side discharging and/or bagging. It is a process with many variables that you have to play with to get good results. Many think that by just slapping on a set of mulching blades will do the trick and are usually sadly disappointed with the results.

Gator Mulching blades are not high lift. A high lift blade will have an uninterrupted sharp curve upward in back of the cutting edge where the air flows up and over helping to make the grass blades underneath stand up to be cut by that cutting edge. High lift blades also increase the flow out of the deck or distance thrown with side discharging. Take a good look at the serrated rear wing of the Gator, or similar, mulching blades. Those serrations are cutting edges and not an uninterrupted curve for high lift. They are designed to make the clippings cut by the edge of the blade to be thrown to the top of the deck where as they fall down are cut many times again by those serrated cutting edges. That process only occurs with a closed deck.
The wavy style mulching blades are designed to cut only the top half inch or inch of the grass and the varying heights of the cutting edges cut it again as they are thrown about inside the deck.

But perhaps the largest problem is that almost all mowing decks are what is termed a 3-way deck in that they can be used for side discharging, bagging or mulching. What most don't realize is that those 3-way do not perform any one of those methods the best they could if they were designed for whichever process. Ideally, a mulching deck would have a tall domed upper deck where the clippings could be held aloft for longer periods while the cutting edges of a mulching blade slice them into smaller pieces. Most decks today have flat top sides.

As I said, there are many variables to mulch mowing that you have to play with to get the best results. It took me a long time to play with many things, but I am more than pleased with the results each time I mow. No clippings are discernible anywhere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Everything I have read about the gator blades says they are not supposed to be used with a mulch kit. Both the original gator blades website and Oregon's says they are high lift. They also say the serrations are not for cutting (some cutting may still occur with them though).

Through Oregon (see attachment) and gatorblades (I'm assuming the original website) The Gator Mulcher blade
 

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Re Gator G6 blades. I've used them on a 48" JD deck for several seasons before I moved to the country. Never used a mulch kit though. Found they had almost but not quite as much lift as the "high lift" OEM JD blades, but the discharge was much finer. I used them with a Cyclone Rake to increase the CR bin capacity. G6 blades gave a comparable, very good finish cut too.

Re Mulching.
Mulch mowing does require some adjustments. Primarily, a lower over the ground speed is best to allow the somewhat reduced lift to pull as much up as it can as you pass over the grass. Any wet or damp grass is going to be laid down by the front tires. Fine bladed grasses that tend to bend easily are also troublesome. Without the extra lift, the laid down grass if damp or wet will not be pulled back up by the mulching blades. Mulching is probably more successful if done more frequently on grass that has not become too long. Try mowing twice a week in average growing conditions, more if the lawn is growing quickly. Mulching when the grass has grown an inch or inch and a half would be a good place to start testing and establishing the best cut schedule for your particular lawn. Mulching at 3.5" when the grass has grown 2 or 3 inches, is setting you up for disappointment.

Adjust your mowing schedule and style to the lawn you have. You'll get there, just be patient and be prepared to cut more often and at a slower pace.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Mower speed is not an issue for me since my yard is quite rough I take it pretty slow already. I'm going to try lowering the deck height to 3" and then maybe give gators or the stock blades a try with the mulch door open.
 

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I jacked up my mower a few days ago to check that the blades didn't have any major nicks in them and to check that the decks wasn't coated in old clippings and the blades appeared to be the correct size.

Cant I just use a measuring tape at the discharge to verify blade height?
You can if you can reach the back, left hand and front blade positions when doing the deck levelling.

The Deere tool is about $5 or $10 .
Makes it much easier to do the check process for blade positions other than at discharge opening.


If you didn't get a manual, or prefer a pdf one, they can be downloaded (free) from Deere's website.
They are serial number specific.

 
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Have to say that after 45 years on tractors cutting grass this was a super informative thread. Maybe even sticky worthy. I changed over to mulching this year and after reading this thread tried mowing yesterday at about half the usual ground speed. The difference is noticeable. The lawn went from a green shag carpet look to a much more tailored green cut-pile carpet look. Plus more seat time 👍
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Glad it could be of help Herd! I also took it a little slower today and that seems like it may have helped a little. But I also mowed at 3” instead of 3 1/2”

I had a very small layer of grass in the under side of my deck but it’s <1/8” thick. I’ll be due for a cleaning before leaf season.

Oh, and I had some leaves to mulch after pulling some brush from a pile and burning some last night and it mulches leaves pretty well. Hoping to avoid a PF and bagger this year at the least.
 
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