Should I bag or mulch my lawn clippings? Is it worth all the extra hassle??
As a long time caregiver of the some of the best lawns around, we have had a lot of discussions with homeowners about the best way to handle grass clippings.
Should you remove your mowed grass off of the lawn?
Should you leave the grass where it is cut?
What is the best way to handle cut grass?
Well, today we will take a look at what some of the best ways to handle your grass clippings.
METHOD #1: LEAVE THE LAWN CLIPPINGS
Leaving lawn clippings after the lawn has been mowed has some benefits that you may not have considered, but there are certainly some drawbacks to leaving them too.
Most people don't know this but, one of the biggest misconceptions about leaving lawn clippings in the yard is that it will lead to thatch. As long as you mow regularly grass will not lead to thatch.
But there is a catch...
Cons: There are definitely a few downsides to leaving clippings in your lawn. For one, you may find that clippings are ending up in your home. Whether the clippings are dragged in by pets, the wind, or yourself, some people may find them annoying. If you are using a side discharge lawn mower, be sure not to blow your grass on the road, as it can be a hazard for motorcyclists.
Worst of all, if your lawn has not been properly maintained, or you cut your grass a bit long leaving cut grass in the lawn can have a detrimental impact on the lawn. Leaving piles of grass in the lawn, even small ones is an absolute "no no" as it will choke out the grass below within only a day or two.
Pros: One of the biggest pros of leaving the clippings on the lawn, is that it keeps your nutrients in the lawn.
On the bright side, grass clippings are high in nitrogen which is important for maintaining a healthy lawn. Of course, you can add fertilizer more often, but why not use the clippings when you can? If you do leave the clippings, you should definitely mulch them in.
METHOD #2: REMOVE THE GRASS FORM YOUR LAWN
So what happens if you remove the clippings?
Let’s find out.
Cons: One of the most obvious problems, is what to do with a pile of grass clippings. Whether you bag up your clippings, or leave them in piles and rake them up you are left with a pile of natural material that you have to use or get rid of.
Here's the deal, if you have enough land to throw them in the woods, then it’s not that big of a deal. On the other hand, if you don’t have woods or gardens, you have a pile of grass to get out of your way.
Pros: For gardeners, there are certainly great benefits to collecting clippings and turning them into compost. As mentioned earlier, grass clippings are loaded with nitrogen and other nutrients which can be a great base for a compost mixture. If you do bag them, be sure to compost your grass clippings.
It gets better, you can also use the collected clippings for other purposes as well, here is a great article on that. Additionally, you won't have the hassle brought about by grass clippings floating around your home, walkways, and porches.
IF YOU BAG YOUR GRASS, YOU CAN COMPOST THE CLIPPINGS:
If you are one of the folks that likes to bag your grass clippings. You should compost your clippings! Here’s the deal, nearly everything your grass needs to grow is contained in those clippings. After letting your grass clippings compost for a year or so, you can add them back to the lawn as a top dressing. This practice of composting can even help eliminate an application or two of fertilizer on your lawn.
MULCHING INSTEAD OF BAGGING:
Mulching your clippings prevents waste going into our landfills. It also puts nutrients back into your lawn, as the grass decomposes feeding your lawn. A mulcher is a small attachment that can be added to your mower that allows you to mulch the grass clippings as you mow spreading those clippings back into the lawn, or you may use a mulching blade. If you have lawn burs or lots of flowering weeds bag instead of mulch, mulching can multiply the problem.
The Case For Mulching
Many experts say mulching is the best method. Leaving the clippings will save you time and energy, and it will return valuable nutrients to the lawn.
Lawns love to be fed, and grass clippings contain the same beneficial nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium nutrients as fertilizer. In fact, clippings can provide as much as one-third of the annual feeding requirement for your lawn.
How Does It Work?
Grass clippings left on your lawn decompose. As the clippings break down, they add nutrients to the soil. Nitrogen, especially, increases with a mulched lawn. You’ll need fewer chemical fertilizers when the mulched grass clippings are left in place.
The Time Factor
Mulching the grass clippings saves time — especially if you have a large lawn.
When you bag your clippings, you have to repeatedly stop and empty the bag, load the clippings and haul them to a compost pile or out to the curb.
The Case For Bagging
Some homeowners feel that bagging the lawn creates a cleaner appearance and better curb appeal because no clumps of grass are visible.
If you tend to mow less frequently and your clippings are long, it’s best to bag them. Large clumps of grass left sitting on your lawn can rot, killing the live grass underneath it. Successful mulching requires that the grass is chopped into little pieces. So either mow often, cutting only a third of the grass blades, or bag your clippings.
A Note About Fungus
If you see signs of lawn disease, bag your clippings — don't mulch them. You don't want the disease to spread.
A Couple Mulching Tips
If you decide to mulch, keep your mower blade sharp and mow regularly so your clippings don’t get too long.
And avoid mowing when the grass is wet. Wet grass tends to clump more easily.