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What’s the Difference Between Mulching and High-Lift Mower Blades?

What’s the Difference Between Mulching and High-Lift Mower Blades?

Choosing the best type of replacement blade for your walk-behind lawn mower can be confusing, primarily because blade types are often referred to by different names, depending on the brand and model of the mower.

Some of the terms you might hear include “2-in-1 mower blades,” “3-in-1 blades,” high-lift blades, mulching blades, and low-lift blades. 

While these various terms can add confusion when it comes time to replace blades, it helps to know that the same blade may be referred to by different names.   

Troy-Bilt offers three basic styles of replacement mowing blades for use on our products, including high-lift mower blades, mulching blades and low-lift mower blades. Meanwhile, the numbered terms, which may also be used to describe these blades, relate to the blade’s ability to handle different discharge methods offered by lawn mowers. 

Read on to learn the difference between mulching blades, low-lift blades and high-lift blades and when to choose one type over another. 

What Are the Different Types of Mower Blades?

What Is a High-Lift Mower Blade?

Many lawn mower owners often wonder what high-lift mower blades are and what they are used for. A high-lift mower blade is the standard mowing blade designed to cut grass and discharge the clippings out from the deck or capture them in a grass collection system. Standard blades can be referred to either as a “2-in-1 mower blade” because they are often both side-discharge and rear-bagging capable or as “high-lift” blades because they are designed to create a higher-lifting airflow. 

People often ask if high-lift blades are good for mulching. The fact is, they’re not generally designed for this purpose. In cases where you would want to mulch your grass clippings, a mulching blade should be used.

What Is a Mulching Blade?

We’re often asked what the difference is between mulching blades and regular blades. Unlike regular side-discharge lawn mowers, a mulching blade is designed to cut grass clippings into finer pieces so they can be mulched back into your yard. They generally feature a more curved style and frequently include extra cutting surfaces along the blade edges. 
If the blade is also referred to as a “3-in-1” blade or a bagger blade, then it can mulch, bag or side-discharge grass clippings.
A standard Troy-Bilt mulching blade is designed to be used with or without the mulch plug to return grass clippings back into the ground, throw them out of the deck or direct them back into the bagging attachment.
A Troy-Bilt Xtreme® mulching blade, such as the Xtreme® Mulching Blade for 21-inch Cutting Decks, has eight different cutting surfaces for finer mulching results.

What Are Low-Lift Mower Blades?

Low-lift mower blades are designed to help provide optimal performance in dry or sandy conditions. These blades are designed with an inward curve that lifts grass to help provide a precise cut while side-discharging by limiting the amount of dust raised when mowing in a sandy or dusty environment. The design allows sand to flow over the wing profile, creating a vacuum effect that lifts grass as it’s cut. Low-lift blades are good for dry conditions, sandy soil, and cutting at extremely low settings. 


Choosing a High-Lift vs. Mulching Blade for Your Mower

What is the difference between high-lift and mulching blades for your lawn mower? Many Troy-Bilt walk-behind mowers come with 3-in-1 blades installed to effectively mulch, bag or side-discharge clippings without the need to change blades. Keep in mind that the recirculating airflow design of 3-in-1 blades can make them less efficient at discharging grass clippings compared with standard 2-in-1 or high-lift blades. If you’re experiencing less-than-desired cutting or discharging performance with a 3-in-1 blade, then you may want to consider using a 2-in-1 blade.

Similarly, if bagging is your preferred method of handling clippings, you may want to consider high-lift mower blades for optimal bagging performance.

If you prefer to mulch clippings, and your mower is equipped with a standard or high-lift blade, then you may be able to replace it with a mulching blade or a mulch kit. These kits generally consist of mulching blades and a mulching plug (used to close off the discharge opening to keep the clippings contained under the deck for re-cutting), plus any necessary hardware for installation. 

Consult your mower’s operator’s manual to see if mulching versus non-mulching blades can be installed on your lawn mower.

Mulching kits with the appropriate blades and mulch plugs for select Troy-Bilt lawn mowers are sold separately according to deck size at You can also check with your local Troy-Bilt retailer or servicing dealer for help determining which mulching kit is right for your mower.

Additionally, Troy-Bilt offers a wide variety of replacement mower blades for Troy-Bilt mowers, including 2-in-1, 3-in-1, high-lift and Xtreme® blades, at


How to Select the Correct Mower Blade

If you’re unsure of what blade is on your mower, then carefully inspect the blade for the part number. Troy-Bilt Genuine Parts have part numbers stamped into them. Compare that number with the unit’s parts list located in the operator’s manual for your mower. The deck size of your mower can also help identify the correct blade.

When selecting a new blade, measure the new blade to make sure it matches the length of the old blade. Blade size is measured diagonally from end to end. 

Additionally, make sure the center hole pattern matches the pattern of your old blade. 

Also, make sure the blade type you choose matches the way you mow. High-lift blades are best for most conditions and are designed to discharge clippings from the deck or to be captured in a bagger. Low-lift blades are good for dry conditions, sandy soil, and cutting at extremely low settings. And mulching blades produce higher turbulence, allowing the grass to be cut and re-cut into smaller pieces. These blades are designed to work with decks equipped with mulch baffles. You can also look up the blade for your Troy-Bilt mower using the Troy-Bilt Parts Diagram Tool. Additionally, check the Troy-Bilt Part Finder to make sure you’re selecting the right blade for your machine.

If you ever need to replace the blades on your Troy-Bilt lawn mower, then remember that only Troy-Bilt Genuine Parts are specifically designed to provide a precise fit for optimal performance. These parts were rigorously tested and engineered for long-lasting quality.