Cub Cadet is famous for the finish of their Signature Cut mowers, but just buying the right mower isn’t enough to get a smooth, even finish on your lawn. These tips will help you get the most out of your mower.
How Your Mower Deck Works
The deck on your mower isn’t just there to shield you from clippings thrown up by the blade, it’s part of a system that ensures each blade of grass is cut evenly.
The blade acts as a fan, pulling air up from the ground and pushing it toward the top of the deck. This pulls the grass straight up so that the mower cuts each blade of grass at the exact same height. Cub Cadet’s Signature Cut design has a low leading edge to get maximum vacuum around the front of the grass to ensure that it’s standing up before the blade reaches it.
Where the clipping goes next depends on the shape of the chamber, the shape of the blade, and the deck configuration. A low lift blade flings the grass outward where it can pass through the chute for side discharge, while a high lift blade throws clippings upward. In the tall mowing chamber of a mulching mower, the clipping will fall back through the blade for another cut. Once the clipping pieces are small enough, they can fall through the blade and onto the ground, creating mulch.
When bagging, small clippings are desirable as they compact more tightly, letting the bag hold more clippings before being emptied. That means they’re still mulched, but the high position of the deck opening lets those clippings exit through the back instead of onto the ground.
To get the best cutting performance, the blade needs to be the right lift to match the mode the deck is being used in, and the edge needs to be sharp to get a clean cut. A clean deck is important for airflow, especially if the mower is being used to mulch or bag.
Most novice mowers set the height too low thinking that it will reduce the number of times they need to mow, but this can severely limit the sunlight the grass is able to absorb, reducing turf density and opening spaces for weeds. The best growth height for grass varieties varies widely, but in general most warm season grasses like zoysia and Bermuda should be mowed to a height of 2-3 inches, while cool season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass are at their best between 3-4 inches. No more than 1/3 of the length of the grass should be cut at one time.
Mowing too low also increases the chance of scalping. When going over a bump or small hill, the height difference between the left and right wheels on the deck can let the blades come close enough to the ground that they slice too deep, cutting into grass crowns and sometimes even into the topsoil.
If the deck is tilted in one direction, the blades will be angled, leaving a scalloped finish. This angle can be checked by placing the mower on a flat, paved surface and measuring the distance between the deck and the ground on each corner. Check your owner’s manual on the correct angle: some decks are designed to be used with the deck tilted forward slightly. The deck position on small walk-behind mowers is set by the height of each wheel, while wide walk-behinds and riding mowers have a floating deck with adjustment knobs or bolts on each corner.
Ball parks and golf courses take finishing one step further with striping. While the contrasting stripes may look like they require some special planting or cutting techniques, the process is actually quite simple: at the back of their mowers, there’s a small roller that pushes the blades of grass in one direction. As the mower goes back and forth over the turf, the grass is bent in different angles which affect how it reflects light, creating a distinctive pattern.
Cub Cadet offers striping kits for most of their mowers so you can get the same look at home with the right technique. Decide on the pattern you want and drive the mower over the turf with minimal overlap. If the pattern is slightly off in one area, simply drive the mower back over it with the blade shut off.
Getting the Parts You Need to Get the Most from Your Lawn
Cubparts.com is a certified dealer for Cub Cadet, so we have blades, striping kits and everything else you need to get the best performance from your mower, whether it’s a small walk-behind or a Pro Z commercial ZTR. We can ship to any address in the U.S. and Canada.