Rear Discharge Deck or Side Discharge on a Zero Turn Mower?

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When you are choosing a zero turn lawn mower, one of the first decisions you need to make is whether you want one with a rear discharge deck or a side discharge.

The rear discharge deck will spray the trimmings out behind you, which makes it impossible for them to hit any walls or bushes on your sides. The side discharge will spew the trimmings out to the side, so you will need to choose your track more carefully.

Continue reading to learn all about the pros and cons of rear discharge decks and side discharge on a zero turn mower.

Pros of a Rear Discharge Deck

There are different advantages to a rear discharge deck on a mower.

First of all, it will spray the grass out behind the mower as you mow your lawn. The trimmings won’t hit the walls, fences, or your garden because they will go out behind your mower.

You can also ride up and down the lawn in rows without worrying about missing grass or having to cut over grass with lawn trimmings all over it.

It is easier to get a clean cut when you use a rear discharge deck mower. 

Another benefit of using this type of discharge is that the trimmings will be distributed more evenly across the lawn. The trimmings have more space and travel out behind the mower, so they are not left in a pile. They also do a great job when you are cutting longer or overgrown grass.

The rear discharge deck works well in rough cut scenarios, especially when you are cutting around ditches.

Cons of a Rear Discharge Deck

There are also a few disadvantages to using a rear discharge deck mower.

First of all, they cost between $200 and $500 more than the side discharge options. In other words, you will pay for the convenience of the trimmings being distributed more evenly across the lawn.

In addition, the quality of the cut is slightly inferior because the rear discharge deck doesn’t create the same suction to stand the grass up before it cuts it. 

The trimmings will still be sprayed out on the lawn, so you either need to cut your grass regularly enough that they are small or you will need to pick them up. These are some of the disadvantages to using this type of deck.

Pros of a Side Discharge

One of the advantages to using a side discharge zero turn mower is that they are generally less expensive than rear discharge decks.

Another benefit is that the design makes it so that they create a vacuum that stands the grass up before it cuts it. As a result, it cuts the grass more evenly. 

This type of mower won’t leave clumps of debris under the deck, where it can clog the machine. It spews trimmings out the side, so the grass is away from the machine. This makes it easier to move forward without worrying that you will have to stop and unclog the deck.

Cons of a Side Discharge

There are also some disadvantages to using a side deck zero turn mower.

First of all, the grass has to pass across the blades from the left to the center to the right before getting discharged. It is a more complicated design, which means that there are more parts to maintain. Another potential problem is that you can’t cut longer grass as efficiently.

When you have a lot of grass clippings on the lawn, you will have to work harder to get an even cut. 

The side discharge also leaves the trimmings more unevenly across the lawn.

There is a delay before the grass clippings are discharged, so you might have piles of grass that you need to clean up. It can also be hard on your mower to cut grass with trimmings already on it.

You will not want to use a side discharge on grass that is too long or that hasn’t been cut regularly.

Which One Should You Choose?

There are several factors that you need to consider when you are deciding whether to choose a rear discharge or side discharge zero turn mower. First of all, you should consider your budget. If you are looking for a less expensive machine, you will want to choose the side discharge deck. 

Next, you should consider what kind of lawn you have and how frequently you plan to mow the grass. You need to understand that short grass that is mowed regularly can handle either mower, and you may prefer the side discharge because there won’t be a lot of grass trimmings. However, if you plan to let your grass grow longer, you might want to use a rear discharge mower. It will spew the trimmings out behind the mower, so it won’t interfere with the grass that you still need to cut. 

People say that the rear discharge mower leaves less mess, and it is easier to use. They also say that it uses less power because they don’t have to cut the grass a second time when you run over the trimmings. You should choose the one that works best for your mowing style and how you plan to maintain your lawn. 

Think about how often you will mow your lawn and what you plan to do with your grass trimmings. If you plan to use a mower bag to bag the clippings, you can use a rear discharge model because the bag is out of the way. The side discharge mower is more difficult to maneuver in tight places when you use a bag, and it holds fewer clippings. 

If you have a small lawn and obstacles in the way, you may prefer a rear discharge mower. This will be easier to maneuver through tight spaces. However, if you have a large open lawn, a rear discharge mower can be easier to use as long as it is in your budget.

Here are some of my favorite lawn care products

Thanks a lot for making it to the end of this post! I hope you found it useful. Here are some lawn care products that I use and that I think you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a commission.

In all honesty, these are some of the basic products that I use and recommend to everyone.

Broadcast Spreader

This Scotts Elite dual rotary spreader is not a professional grade model but it’s excellent for homeowners.

I really like the edge guard on it. It’s really easy to switch on and off so it’s great for going around my driveway and flower beds.

If you’re not looking to spend hundreds of dollars, I’d definitely recommend this model. It spreads out a wide path and is great quality for the cost.

Backpack Sprayer

This 4-Gallon sprayer is my absolute favorite. It sprays for a really long time. I’ve had this sprayer for quite a while and I’ve never had the battery run out.

The adjustable pressure switch is a really import feature to me.

You can order a lot of accessories for this model but I’ve never really found much of a need for it.

Head Aerator

Hand aerators are great for small spots if you’ve got construction debris or a spot that constantly dries out.

You can also fill these holes with organic matter that will hold a bit more moisture.

This one by Yard Butler is an absolute bargain. It pulls nice long cores. I also use it for taking soil samples around the yard!

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