A mower blade is a mower blade, right?! You wear it down, go buy a replacement, fit it and off you go again. That’s what I used to think, but discovered that it’s a whole world unto itself. There are so many subtle variations that you can buy. One of the things I used to get asked at the store was “what type of lift are you looking for?” I had no idea. Some of the subtler variations still confuse me, but I have a better handle on the main different types of mower blades now.
So what are high lift mower blades? High lift mower blades can be spotted pretty easily as the back edge on each side has a steep gradient, giving the clippings a “lift” as they pass over it, hence the name.
What Exactly is Lift in the Context of Lawn Mower Blades?
When you’re buying new blades for your mower, there are a number of different characteristics to think about. The common ones that people generally remember to check are the length, width and the type of center hole the blade has. But lift is often a factor that gets overlooked.
The “lift” of a mower blade is its ability to pull grass clippings up into the mower deck, and there are several different categories of lift, each one producing a different result, which we’ll discuss in a minute. This lift is achieved by the blade’s design featuring a curved back edge on either side.
What are High Lift Mower Blades: How Can I Spot One?
Let’s come back to high lift mower blades for a second, as that’s what this post is primarily about. High lift mower blades are very easy to spot, as they have what I like to call “wings” on the back edge of the blade on either side.
The curved edge that we just mentioned has a very sharp gradient, so these “wings” are very noticeable. The difference when compared to a standard blade is instantly visible. You can classify how much lift a mower blade provides by laying the blade flat and then measuring how high the raised edge of the blade is.
The Different Categories of Lift in Lawn Mower Blades
When we talk about lift in relation to mower blades, there are a number of different levels or categories of lift. The most common ones you’ll see for sale include:
Low Lift Blades
The height of the curved edge with a low lift blade is generally under ¾ of an inch. These are often the least demanding on a mower, placing less strain on the motor/engine and are often favored in dustier terrains.
Medium Lift Blades
The lift on these blades normally falls somewhere between ¾ of an inch and 15/16 of an inch. Medium lift blades are generally what people are referring to when they talk about “standard” or “regular” mower blades. Again, they’re not too demanding on your mower.
High Lift Blades
High lift blades typically have a curved edge somewhere between 1 inch and 1 3/16 inches. As mentioned earlier, with such a sharp upward curve (or wings as I call them), high lift blades are instantly recognizable.
Super High Lift Blades
These blades provide the most suction and the curved edged generally measures at least 1 ¼ inches, but can be more. I’d probably avoid opting for these if your yard is overly sandy/dusty, as the high amount of suction they generate can cause this material to circulate around the mower deck and accelerate wear and tear. They are also only effective if your mower is pretty powerful.
What is the Difference Between Standard and High Lift Mower Blades?
The only real difference between standard mower blades and high lift blades is the amount of lift. Standard blades typically fall into the “medium” lift category that I just outlined, and are really effective when used with smaller residential mowers, because they don’t require as much horsepower to really deliver. High lift blades have a steeper curved edge and offer more suction and better air circulation in the deck.
Factors to Consider Before Buying High Lift Mower Blades
The answer to whether you should buy high lift blades or not really depends on a few different factors.
Are You Planning to Bag, Mulch or Discharge?
High lift blades are a great choice if you’re planning to bag your clippings. The added lift they provide is extremely effective in directing clippings up and through the bagging chute.
If mulching is what you’re after though, you’d be better off buying a special mulching blade vs a high lift blade. And a medium lift blade would be fine if you’re discharging clippings (they work ok for bagging too).
How Powerful is Your Mower?
It’s not just the shape of the mower blade that creates the lift, it’s the power of the actual mower too. And the higher the lift you want, the more power you’re going to need.
If you’ve got an electric mower, it likely won’t be powerful enough to fully benefit from a high lift blade. If you’ve got a gas mower with decent horsepower, you’ll be fine.
Are High Lift Mower Blades Better?
I know this is not what you want to hear, but it really does depend. If you want to bag your clippings and your mower is powerful enough to really provide the full lift effect, then they’re a great choice. But if you’re planning to mow a dusty lawn full of thick long grass with an underpowered electric mower, it’s not going to work miracles. Be sensible and they’ll work for you.