If you are considering buying a new or used Riding Lawn Mower then one of the most common options is a Grass Catcher System or Bagger. Depending on what brand and size Lawn Tractor you purchase the option may be included or pre-installed even though you will pay more than for one without but it does speed your ability to use it instead of purchasing one separately.
Normally if you purchase a new lawn tractor with the bagger installed it is a floor model that is demoing the option. For this reason you can sometimes negotiate the price a bit but not all retailers are welcoming to price haggling today.
If you purchase the option separately they may deliver it on a white box truck from their warehouse not installed.
Additionally if you already own a Lawn Tractor you can often add a Grass Catching System available from your manufacturer or a third party. This is often a good idea if your lawn tractor is older but you need the ability to collect grass and lawn debris.
These considerations are all factors in your purchase but how you will use the system is probably more important.
What is a Grass Catching System for?
Well as the name suggests a Grass Catching System is an optional add-on to collect cut grass while you cut your lawn.
Normally when you cut your grass you might see a small accumulation of grass off of the trailing end of your mower deck. It can leave a line down your grass which is unsightly. In addition that line of grass will block sun from the grass it is covering. This can lead to the grass wilting but it normally won’t die from this accumulation if you cut your grass once a week.
Without a catching system to eliminate this problem you should find the side of the mower deck that causes more trailings. You can then cut rows or circles in the opposite direction and reduce this buildup pretty well.
Another situation that causes this is when you cut your grass wet. What happens is cut grass builds up on the underside of the deck and because there is less room the grass can not bounce around and be mulched by the blade before it is ejected. So, Cut your grass when it is dry and make sure there isn’t any buildup on the bottom side of your blade deck.
Additionally cutting grass that is too high will cause debris trails. You have two options here. Cut the grass twice with the deck raised on the first pass or cut the grass very slowly allowing the blades to mulch and chop the grass blades into smaller pieces.
So, It seems like I just gave you the solution to your problem and now you don’t want to purchase a Grass Catching System? Well there are uses for it that will reduce a lot of work in your yard and it is very handy to have when you need it.
First is reclaiming a yard from Weeds. If you have a yard that is full of weeds you probably notice that your grass grows faster than everyone elses. Because of this the weeds have time to grow high enough to grow seed. This seed will broadcast wider and take over more of your healthy grass.
To eliminate weed seeds it is important to cut your grass low and use a herbicide that will kill the weeds.
If you are mid season you will need to replant these areas with good grass seed. Unfortunately herbicides will inhibit the growth of both weed and grass seed.
What you can do is use your Grass Catching System to collect the weed and weed seeds for a couple weeks and then plant new grass. You will then have to wait for the grass to grow long enough that it can be cut and then a few weeks later you can treat for any remaining weeds.
Also in the fall a Grass Catching System is a great way to collect tree leaves. Every time you cut your grass you will be collecting more and more leaves. Eventually at the end of the season you will be collecting only leaves.
What to do with the collected debris?
If you do decide to collect your grass you either need to discard it in a special municipal yard waste container or store it on your property until it breaks down.
Since the debris you are collecting contain herbicides, pesticides and seed you do not want to use this material for mulch in either a vegetable or flower bed. You will just be asking for trouble. You can however use it in other places once it breaks down into an organic dirt like material. This can take a couple years to happen so expect a large pile of material to build up over time. In my house we use it along a embankment in the rear of the property to build up a low area.
Grass Catching Systems or Baggers can be a great option for your lawn tractor. They will allow you to cut long grass and discard it and also let you clean leaves in the fall without the need to rake.
The cost of this add-on can range by manufacturer and system but expect to pay about $300 new for a good quality hard container system or slightly less if your bags on the collector are made of nylon or fabric material. Fabric baggers normally need replacement every 5 years and hard shell baggers require larger storage area over winter.
Again this option is not a necessity for everyone but ask your neighbors or check around and see how people like them. If you can afford one its probably better to have than to not have.