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Side vs Rear Discharge Deck – Which is Right for You?

Up and down the lawns and green spaces of the UK, there is one topic of conversation that splits opinion: what’s better, a side or rear discharge deck? Traditionalists will argue that a side discharge deck offers greater flexibility and quality, and now that it can be fitted or retrofitted to accommodate mulching, you needn’t look elsewhere. However, rear discharge deck disciples would argue that not only can a rear discharge deck make light work of a lawn, it’ll distribute trimmings more evenly and, as trimmings exit behind the mower, allay safety concerns. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, it’s time we settle this once and for all.

Always on your side

A side discharge deck offers a variety of benefits for the landscaping professional. Due to its design, it creates a vacuum that stands the grass up before cutting, producing a more even, quality cut across the lawn. But, that’s not all. It’s also less prone to clogging and super flexible, allowing specialists like Tom Duchesne, Owner of Top Garden Services to “mulch, pick up or collect grass with a collection kit,” making it perfect for the differing landscapes encountered on any one day.

However, with such flexibility can come additional upkeep. As it’s so adjustable, there are more parts that could require maintenance further into its use cycle, so make sure the mower is expertly constructed. Also, a side discharge deck can sometimes produce an uneven spread of clippings across the lawn as well as cause trimmings or debris to eject from the side unwantedly. This, though, is where the rear discharge deck comes in.

Always got your back

One of the rear discharge deck’s biggest strengths is that trimmings are contained behind the wheels and then deflected back onto the ground and dropped under the path of the mower. This not only means that trimmings fall uniformly onto the lawn, but they also won’t hit fences, walls or flowerbeds. This is also important from a health and safety perspective as stones or other objects won’t accidentally damage property or injure passers-by, making a rear discharge deck a safer consideration for council, local authority and amenity work, especially near roadsides or pathways. Specialists like John Ryan of John’s Lawn Mowing prefer a rear discharge deck for this type of work for that exact reason.

It isn’t all about safety with a rear discharge deck, though. A rear discharge deck can conquer tough-to-cut terrains better than its counterpart and give professionals like James Chillingworth, Owner of Wooden Fence Post Company “quicker discharge of trimmings for a faster, more efficient mow.”

Which is a cut above?

When looking at the strengths and weaknesses of both side and rear discharge decks, it’s clear both warrant their place in the garden, each being a master of its own terrain. How then can we settle this long-standing debate? Actually, it’s quite simple. Instead of arguing over which is better, decide upon the right deck for the job and focus more on mower build.

With so many varying and difficult landscaping scenarios, landscaping professionals need a mower that can get the job done on the first try, that doesn’t compromise on quality. One that has the power, durability and craftsmanship of the Ariens APEX 48 RD. Ariens, renowned for its industry leading side discharge mowers, is now manufacturing rear discharge mowers with its APEX 48 RD rear discharge petrol zero-turn mower leading the way.


The APEX 48 RD is designed to overcome the unique lawn challenges faced by UK and European landscapers, including the need for rear discharge where necessary. Ariens works with thousands of landscape specialists across the continent and even set up a manufacturing base in Oxford to not only produce the APEX 48 RD zero-turn mower but be closer to the men and women powering them.

When it comes to which deck is best, it all depends on the type of work that must be completed. If flexibility and cut quality is needed, a side discharge deck will operate better, whereas, if speed, uniform trimming discharge and safety are priorities, a rear discharge deck is a step ahead. But, no matter what deck you decide to go with, don’t skimp on quality. Put your trust in a manufacturer that, as well as having decades of experience you can rely on, expertly builds mowers that produce the results you need first time, every time.

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