When it comes time to mow our lawns, a common question people ask is “What should I do with grass clippings?”
- Bagging and composting clippings
- Using the side discharge on the mower to disperse grass clippings into the lawn
Some people may balk at not bagging or mulching, thinking that it will leave a mess on their lawn that will detract from the lawn’s appearance and get tracked into the house.
Yes, it may leave a mess on your lawn if you don’t follow good mowing practices, such as mowing your lawn when it is dry or mowing when it is too long, which may result in unattractive clumping.
It is best to mow your lawn when it is dry. And a good rule of thumb to follow is to not cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade. If your grass is quite long, it is better to raise the mower blade, cut and bag, then lower the mower blade and mow again, but at the usual height.
According to Scotts, “Grass clippings are mostly water, so as long as you mow regularly at the right height, they will break down and disappear rapidly.”
Mowing and not bagging or mulching, is an effective way to nourish your lawn.
You shouldn’t leave the grass clippings on your lawn if:
- You notice signs of lawn disease
- You have lots of weeds as you will spread the seeds from the weeds throughout your lawn
- Also, in the spring it may we wiser to collect grass clippings as the grass is juicier and growing faster, resulting in more clippings which may not have time to properly decompose before your next cut. Long clippings left on your lawn can damage your lawn by providing too much shade to the grass beneath or even smothering it.
- A weed control product was recently applied
- The grass clippings are over an inch in length. “As a general rule, grass clippings of an inch or less in length can be left on your lawn where they will filter down to the soil surface and decompose quickly. Remove longer clippings because they can shade or smother grass beneath causing lawn damage.” (Source: University of Minnesota Extension)
Benefits of leaving grass clippings on your lawn
- Grass clippings provide nourishment to your lawn. They are a “valuable source of nutrients and you can use less nitrogen fertilizer if you recycle clippings to the lawn.” (Source: University of Minnesota)
- Grass clippings may help improve soil that is low in organic matter, sandy or has heavy clay. Saves time and who doesn’t want to have more time to do the things you enjoy come summer?
- If you empty lawn clippings into a recycling bin, by leaving the clippings on your lawn, it will cut down on the amount of waste being collected, reducing emissions from collection trucks, transportation and more.
Also, be sure to keep in mind that if you don’t bag clippings, be sure to sweep them up if they end up in a curb or gutter “so they don’t get into storm drains or carried to nearby water resources where they can negatively impact water quality” (Source: University of Minnesota). Your neighbors will appreciate this as well.
Scotts, What to Do With Grass Clippings
Earth Smart Property Solutions, Mulching Grass: Benefits & Tips
University of Minnesota Extension, “What to do with lawn clippings”