Cutting decks for ride on mowers
22 Oct 2018
When it comes to buying a ride on mower, one thing that they all have in common is a cutting deck – the pressed or fabricated steel area that houses its blades. Whether you choose from side or rear discharge, mulching or catching, the size and type of cutting deck your mower requires will vary depending on the size and landscape of your property.
While all of our mowers are designed and manufactured by reputable and leading brands, it’s worth noting from the outset that among all ride ons, those with fabricated decks are the hardest-wearing and therefore most suited to New Zealand conditions. These fabricated decks withstand knocks and bumps much better, and don't rust through like pressed steel decks when used in damp environments. And depending on the amount of lawn you mow regularly and the number of trees or obstacles you have to navigate, there are also different deck sizes within most brands and models.
So with that in mind, here’s a breakdown on the three main deck types you can expect to find.
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This is the most common deck configuration in New Zealand. Better for longer grass and available on both zero turn and ride on mowers, side-discharge decks are a great option for the varying conditions many lifestyle block owners find across their properties. Side collection options are available for some of these mowers, however are typically 'add-ons' rather than being designed as full-time collection systems. Our BOB-CAT range of zero turn mowers come with side discharge decks as standard. These mowers come in a number of size options for small and large rural properties and are a very popular choice for kiwi lifestyle block owners.
Mulching decks are popular in some parts of New Zealand however you will need to consider thoroughly before getting a mulching deck/kit before purchasing. Mulching, while a nice way to avoid visible clippings, does have several downsides, and the mulching rules must be followed.
Some of the benefits of mulching include:
- Better for the lawn, helps moisture and nutrient retention
- Less visible clippings than side discharge
- Less mess over driveways or paved areas.
Some of the negatives of mulching include:
- Can be bad for the lawn health long term - large thatch buildup over time requiring regular dethatching
- Very difficult to mulch damp grass - grass will gather under the deck then fall out in clumps when turning or stopping
- Need to mow very regularly in the season, to keep up with growth.
- Hard on the belts due to increased drag
- Not easy to switch to side discharge or collection due to deck baffles.
If you are going to mulch, make sure you get a proper mulching kit, not just a side cover which doesn't mulch at all.
Then, the Three mulching rules must be followed:
- Mow regularly - at least once a week in the season
- Only take off 1/3 of the total grass length per mow. Any more is hard on the mower belt and will not leave a tidy finish
- Don't mow when it's dewy, damp or wet. Wait until it is dry, to avoid grass clumping.
Well-suited to mowing wet lawns, rear collection decks have the advantage of a collection bag opening just behind the blades. Because of this, you can mow just about anywhere without worrying about any clippings ending up on the footpath, driveway or worst of all – in your house.
Rear discharge (Non-Collecting)
Some zero-turn mowers are fitted with rear discharge, non catching decks. Whilst these are preferred by some contractors who don’t want clippings discharged onto nearby areas, they are not that common in New Zealand. Some of the Scag zero turn mowers come with rear discharge decks, and are popular with councils or mowing contractors who need to be able to contain clipping dispersal and avoid discharge onto driveways/roads/car parks.
Out front decks
Found on some zero turn mowers, out front decks lend themselves to being maneuverable and allowing the driver to see exactly where the blades are about to cut. With the increased visibility, it’s possible to get up close to edges and underneath overhanging branches. Our Walker range of ride on zero turn mowers offer the most versatility when it comes to these factors as you’re both above and behind the cutting deck; you get the ‘best seat in the house’ with ultimate visibility, maneouvrability and the added benefit of a floating deck.
For more information on any of our mowers, click here. And if you have any questions, would like to chat with one of our professional staff or arrange a free demonstration of any of our mowers, don’t hesitate to contact us.