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How to Get a Manicured Look to Your Lawn … and not Bag the Grass! Or,
Honda Has the Answer to Mulching!

Keith Petersen of The Eardly T. Petersen Company in Westfield reports that the preferred method of lawn maintenance is to mulch the grass as it is being cut rather than bagging it.

“Mulching,” states Mr. Petersen, “offers a number of sound advantages that are not present when the cut grass is being bagged. First and foremost, it is ecologically sound to mulch the grass, as this process, if properly done, returns moisture and nutrients to the turf.”

Mr. Petersen explains that, typically, the top third of the grass blade is removed by the lawnmower blade as it cuts. About 85% of that portion is water and the rest of that portion is nutrients. If that portion is
effectively chopped and rechopped into small particles and then forced back into the turf it is a benefit to the lawn.

Mr. Petersen says that for years a common misapprehension has existed with many people that returning clippings to the lawn is a detriment as it will create thatch. However, that is incorrect. “Thatch,” Mr. Petersen indicates, “is largely a result of circumstances such as over fertilizing and watering too lightly. This causes a condition in which the grass no longer has to “chase” moisture and nutrients downward; but, rather, allows the grass to grow roots sideways and closer to the surface. Thus, there is a build-up of a “web” of rhizome material as an underlayment to the grass blade. This is a thatch condition. If fertilizing is properly done, and watering is accomplished at proper intervals only by thoroughly soaking the soil, the grass sends it roots downwards and a healthy plant ensues.”

“People bag their lawns,” remarks Mr. Petersen, “largely because they like the clean, manicured look. But, other than vanity, there are generally not good reasons for bagging the grass. In addition, it is likely that, at some point, the authorities will no longer accept grass clippings at the conservation centers or landfills – the onus will be on the homeowner to dispose of vegetative waste.”

“A well-designed mulching mower,” continues Mr. Petersen, “will produce an equivalent, “bagged” look to a lawn without the negatives of the bagging process. It takes longer to bag the grass, as the mowing process has to be stopped to empty the bag. Of course, a grass bag full of grass has some weight to it – especially in the early Spring when the grass typically as a fair amount of moisture in it. This issue of weight is compounded when the grass is collected into a barrel. Lastly, the grass then has to be hauled away for disposal with all those associated costs and inconveniences.”

A number of premium mower manufacturers make good mulching mowers. Honda, however, provides the most unique and arguably the most advantageous design for mulching. This is due to their heralded “Clip Deflector®” which is engineered into their premium HRX series lawnmowers.

“Mulching is harder to accomplish than bagging,” states Mr. Petersen, “as the grass blade has to be cut and then re-cut additional times to make it acceptably small. In the bagging process, the cut portion immediately leaves the mower chamber; however, in a mulching machine, that portion remains until suitably re-chopped. A good mulching design will satisfactorily accomplish this, and, a poorly designed mower will result in a poor cut.

But, the mischief arises as the grass gets longer, thicker or more wet (read “it rained”). If even a good mulching mower can’t handle the additional grass load, it will simply drop it into clumps. This is not cosmetically acceptable.”

Honda has an antidote to this problem. Through the implementation of their Clip Deflector®, an internal baffle can be controlled from a single lever located on the top of the cutting deck. This Clip Deflector® lever instantly enables the mower to be adjusted for full bagging capabilities, full mulching, or, anywhere in between. It is this latter ability that provides for the Honda HRX lawnmower the facility to mulch in whatever the grass condition. The user can simply adjust the Clip Deflector® until optimum mulching is achieved – even in longer-than- normal grass conditions. The excess grass is simply deposited into the grass bag instead of being left as unsightly clumps around the lawn.

“Of course the Honda HRX mower provides all the legendary Honda features and quality as well as the unique properties of the Clip Deflector®,” concludes Mr. Petersen. “Honda makes the best 4-cycle mower engines in the OPE (Outdoor Power Equipment) Industry and has done so since their arrival into the USA some 20 years ago. The HRX features the industry-only Hydrostatic drive system found on a residential walk-behind mower. This is a fluid drive system found on all
premium commercial mowers and tractors, etc. which allows for effortless, precise adjustment of walking speed – much like the Cruise Control on a car. As well, the cutting deck material on the HRX is essentially indestructible, and only Honda utilizes ball-bearing wheels for durability on homeowner machines. No wonder the Consumers’ people rated the HRX217HXA the #1 choice for lawnmowers!”

To see the Honda HRX lawnmower visit The Eardly T. Petersen Company at 224 Elmer Street in Westfield, or, call them with questions at 908-232-5723. Alternately, visit their website at