Side discharge mowers are great machines that can help you to maintain your lawn efficiently. These mowers have the unique ability to throw cut grass out of their side, which reduces the necessity of stopping it every few minutes and emptying a bag. They also leave behind a neat row on one side of your lawn, which is called side discharge.

The side discharge chute on your lawn mower is the best part of your machine. It saves you time and effort, plus it makes your lawn look amazing.

There are several ways to install a side discharge, not all methods will work for every model of mower or brand of gas they use.

So let’s talk about what steps you should take when installing a side discharge in order to get the most out of your machine without having problems down the line.

How to install side discharge on lawn mower, step by step:

  • Step 1: Completely Drain the Gas
  • Step 2: Remove the Bagger and Mulch Plug
  • Step 3: Remove the Lawn Mower Blade
  • Step 4: Take out Hose from Side Discharge Chute
  • Step 5: Installed Deflector, Remove it Carefully
  • Step 6: Test Your Lawn Mower

Note: We explain all of these steps below with proper explanation.

What does side discharge do?

A side-discharge lawn mower has an opening in the top that allows grass to fall out of the mower when it is running. Side discharges are meant for mulching or cutting grass that does not need to be bagged, such as new lawns or residential areas.

This type of mower also has a higher discharge capacity than a bagging mower, which means it can handle more grass with less effort. 

Side discharges can be found on most models of residential lawnmowers, though they are not available on commercial models. As a result of their design, side discharges may leave some clumps of grass behind on your lawn. If you have a large area to mow, this may not matter much. 

But if you are only trying to keep an even level of grass in your yard, side discharges may leave you with uneven patches.

Additionally, side discharges have a very limited amount of debris collection space and will often cause clogs in some areas if you do not keep them clean.

How to Install Side Discharge on Lawn Mower?

How to Install Side Discharge on Lawn Mower?

Below are some points that you should keep in mind before you get the installation done.

  • The first thing you need to take care of is the amount of your lawn. You need to decide how much you are willing to cut.
  • If you have a slanted lawn, make sure that you install a side discharge that is suitable for slanted lawns.
  • If you have a small lawn, then you may want to consider getting a walk-behind mower designed for small yards. These mowers are designed with the side discharge in mind.

Step 1: Completely Drain the Gas

Before you start, make sure all of the gas is completely drained from the engine. This will help prevent an accident or injury.

Use a siphon or other method to drain any remaining gas from the tank. You can also use a garden hose and some sandpaper to remove any residual material. That may be left behind in order to create a clean surface on which to park your lawn mower’s side discharge arm assembly, after installing it on your lawnmower’s frame.

Once done, store any leftover liquid in an appropriate container a metal drum would be ideal as it will keep its contents dry. But still, allow them room inside. So they aren’t crushed by pressure during transportation back home later during colder months when outdoor activities like gardening are less common due primarily. Because snowfall limits outdoor activities outside (although there are exceptions).

Step 2: Remove the Bagger and Mulch Plug

Now you have to remove the bagger, which is similar to a large, metal dustpan with a handle on top. It hangs down below your lawn mower’s deck and collects grass clippings or other debris from around the lawn area.

The bagger can be removed by pushing it down into its storage slot while holding the top of it with one hand (the other hand should be holding onto something like a piece of wood). 

Once you’ve released both sides of this unit, pull forward so that it slides completely out from under your mower’s deck. This may take some force because there are several other pieces attached here as well.

Step 3: Remove the Lawn Mower Blade

Remove the blade by loosening the bolt, washer, and nut. Install the mulching blade adapter onto the mower deck with a wrench. Tighten the bolt until snug, but do not over-tighten it as this can damage your lawn mower deck when you re-install it later.

Reinstall the blade into place with proper torque applied by turning clockwise into position.

Step 4: Take out Hose from Side Discharge Chute

You may need to change the hose if it is too long or too short. You may also have to change the length of your hose if you find that it is too stiff or flexible for your application.

Especially if there will be any obstructions (such as trees) in its path when it’s being used on a lawn mower.

Step 5: Installed Deflector, Remove it Carefully

The deflector is used to deflect the grass clippings away from the mower and can be easily damaged if not removed properly.

If you do not remove this part properly, it will cause damage to your lawn mower and void any warranty that may have been given by its manufacturer.

Step 6: Test Your Lawn Mower

Now is the time to test your lawn mower to see if it’s working or not. It should make less noise than usual once you’ve installed your side discharge chute correctly. First, put the gas tank on the ground and open up the throttle.

In order for this step to work properly, there needs to be enough room between your lawn mower and any obstacles like trees or fences that could block its path as it goes through its full range of motion (about 1 foot).

Advantages of Side Discharge

  • Side discharge lawn mowers are generally more affordable than other types of lawn mowers. 
  • They are easy to use and require little maintenance.
  • These lawnmowers are versatile and can be used on a variety of lawns.
  • Side discharge lawn mowers provide a clean cut and can be used on both short and long grass.

Disadvantages of Side Discharge

  • The side discharge can spread lawn clippings onto sidewalks and driveways, which can be difficult to clean up.
  • Side discharge lawn mowers can also blow lawn clippings back onto the user, which can be annoying.

Related Guide: Do LawnMowers Have Alternators?

Can You Convert a Mulching Mower to a Side Discharge?

Mulching mowers do not have a side discharge function. However, if you have a side discharge mower, you may be able to convert it to a mulching mower. If you want to do this, you will have to get a plug that goes inside the mower’s discharge chute and blocks the grass clippings from falling out. 

However, you may have to remove certain parts of the mower in order to install the plug. Read the mower’s manual to find out how to do this. You also may have to make adjustments to the mower’s blade after installing the plug.

When Should You Use a Side Discharge on a Lawn Mower?

Side discharge lawn mower is useful in many ways if:

  • You have a slanted lawn and want to maintain your lawn so that it looks tidy at all times. 
  • You have a small lawn and are looking for the most convenient way to cut it. 
  • You want the mower to cut the grass in a way that is suitable for large amounts of grass. 
  • You have a lot of weeds growing on your lawn and are looking for the best way to get rid of them. 
  • You are looking for a mower that is user-friendly and convenient to use.

Is Side Discharge Better than Mulching?

Side discharge is better than mulching because it provides a quick way to empty the mower bag, reducing storage time. Side discharge reduces mowing time by up to 70%. Side discharge does not require as much maintenance as mulching. Side discharge may reduce the need for chemical treatments and pesticides.

Side discharge allows for additional fertilizer or irrigation applications. Some people consider side discharge an environmentally-friendly option because it does not require the disposal or recycling of materials.

Side discharge may also be more cost-effective than mulching in the long term. Because it reduces the number of mowing passes that are required. Which can result in increased gas consumption by your lawnmower and reduced wear to your lawnmower deck.

Mulching, on the other hand, requires you to run over your grass multiple times each week, which can increase wear and tear on your lawnmower components such as decks and motors.

How Do I Keep my Mower Side Discharge Open?

Mower side discharge openings are necessary for proper mowing and must remain open at all times. If the sides of your mower are blocked, grass clogs the blades and prevents them from cutting properly. This can lead to uneven or incompletely cut lawns. To prevent this, you should make sure the mower’s mower side discharge is open at all times.

You can do this by simply lifting up on either side of the mower’s frame or by loosening a few bolts that hold it in place.

The other important thing to remember is that Mowers with mulching selectors need to have their side discharge openings wide enough. So that they can suck up grass clippings when they are running.

Can I Use Bagging Blades for Side Discharge?

You can use bagging blades for side discharge, but you should be aware of two important issues:

First, not all bagging blades are the same. You need to make sure that the blades you purchase are rated to handle both side discharge and rear discharge. Second, the bags used in side discharge applications must be closable.

If your customer’s packaging is only openable from one end, chances are that the bags will bunch up and possibly get stuck during the initial cycle.

This can cause delays and reduce production efficiency. If you have questions about bagging blades for side discharge applications, please go to this guide.

Is it Good to Install Side Discharge on a Lawn Mower?

Side-discharging is the practice of running a mower without a discharge chute. The main benefit of side-discharging is that it can save time, as you do not have to empty and clean the chute after each mowing. However, if you have a lawn that needs frequent mowing, side-discharging may lead to clogged chutes and decreased cut quality.

Another drawback is that it can be difficult to keep the grass short in areas where there are slopes or obstacles, such as tree roots.

Side-discharging on a lawn mower can also be dangerous because it increases the risk of tipping or falling off of the machine while in use.

There are two types of discharge systems on lawnmowers: 

The rear-discharge system and the side-discharge system. 

The rear-discharge system has a chute at the rear of the mower which allows excess grass to be blown out of the machine before it enters into the bagging mechanism.

The downside of this type of discharge system is that it requires more space and is more prone to clogging, especially if there are obstacles in its way like trees or parked vehicles.

This makes side-discharging more desirable for areas with limited space where mowing frequency is less frequent than once per week.


The side discharge enables you to direct your grass clippings onto a nearby piece of landscape furniture or tree stump. The benefit of this method is it will save you time and money by reducing the amount of time you need to rake up and dispose of your clippings.

It can also help reduce odors, germs, and other potential nuisances associated with standard methods of disposing of your clippings. The side discharge is different from a front-mounted bagger, which should be used when possible.


Victoria Peterson

I am a passionate gardener who wants to help you create and maintain your dream yard. I know that it can be daunting to take on a project like this, but I am here to help. I have been gardening for years and have learned a lot along the way. I want to share my knowledge with you and help you create the perfect yard for your home.

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