Drums Versus Discs: A Look at Different Types of Mulchers

An in-depth look at the difference between drum and disc mulchers and what landscape pros can do with each.

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Diamond Mowers

Mulcher attachments allow landscape pros to cut down and shred trees simultaneously so you can get the job done quickly and efficiently.

If you're interested in a mulching attachment, you've probably run into two different types: disc mulchers versus drum mulchers. There is plenty of overlap in what these mulching attachments can do, but they're not interchangeable. Each comes with its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at each of these attachments so you can choose the right one for your needs.

Drum versus disc: The basic difference

First, it’s important to clarify the basic difference between these two attachments. They're both intended to mulch brush and trees, but they accomplish this task in different ways. Each are valuable tools in land clearing applications. Here’s a breakdown of the differences:

  • Disc mulcher: As the name suggests, this attachment looks like a large disc. The disc is equipped with mulching teeth to cut and mulch trees. A unique aspect of disc mulchers is that they store energy and combine this stored energy with hydraulic power to work. You can cut and mulch with different techniques by adjusting the disc's angle as you approach vegetation.
  • Drum mulcher: This mulcher attachment is cylindrical and covered in a pattern of hardened steel or carbide teeth and depth control rings to manage the bite size. 

Drum and disc mulchers are not designed for cutting grass and are a poor choice for this task. If your primary goal is to cut grass, you're better off with a rotary or flail mower. Though mulching attachments can also grind stumps a couple of inches below ground, using them for this purpose will wear on the teeth. It is better to use a more specialized attachment for this, such as a stump grinder, which is designed to work underground to fully eliminate a stump and roots.

Skid-steer disc mulcher

Cut width

One important factor to consider is the cutting width of the mulcher. This is the measure of how wide an area the mulcher can cut or mulch at once. A smaller width especially advantageous for those operating in compact spaces or for smaller skid-steers.

Cutting capacity

While drum and disc mulchers are both designed for similar purposes, their cutting capacity is not the same. Disc mulchers can typically cut through thicker trees quicker, offering high productivity. If you are more concerned with clearing large areas quickly, especially an area with larger trees, the disc mulcher is the best choice.


Another difference between a drum mulcher and a disc mulcher is where you can use them. If you're clearing land in a remote, rural area, then a disc mulcher is a good choice. A disc mulcher is intended for rural areas only because it is more likely to throw debris that could endanger people or property in the surrounding area.

Skid-steer drum mulcher

Cut width

Generally, if you want a larger cutting width, you'll get that with a drum mulcher. The way they are designed allows them to mulch a wider path. While these widths may be comparable to that of a disc mulcher, the true advantage lies with the extremely short depth of the overall unit, which allows the operator an advantage in maneuverability in tight quarters, while still allowing the unit to cut a wide path

Cutting capacity

While disc mulchers excel at cutting through thicker trees, drum mulchers are an excellent choice for small trees and brush. 


If you're working in an urban or suburban environment, you'll want to go with a drum mulcher. This attachment is a safer choice when you're working near homes, utility lines, bystanders or people. Regardless of which mulcher attachment you choose, always be sure you are practicing safety.

Standard flow versus high-flow configurations

If you've bought attachments for a skid-steer before, you already know to pay attention to whether an attachment meets the hydraulic configuration of your skid-steer. A high-flow skid-steer can power attachments that are more powerful than a standard flow, also called a "low-flow" skid-steer.

Make sure you purchase a mulching attachment that will work with your skid-steer. 

Mulching attachments

In summary of the drum versus disc mulcher matchup, each attachment has its strengths and limitations.

A disc mulcher:

  • Is great for rural environments where it can cut through thicker trees
  • Draws on stored energy to get the job done efficiently
  • Has higher productivity potential than a drum mulcher and is able to clear a larger area quickly

A drum mulcher:

  • Works in more diverse environments
  • Has a larger cutting width for mulching more at once.
  • More intuitive for workers to operate.
  • Produces a finer mulch
  • Is safer to operate in populated areas and urban settings, as well as easy to operate in tight spaces.

Additionally, both mulching attachments are compatible with most skid loader brands.