Why You Should Mulch Your Lawn Clippings

Here is a way to make mowing your yard much easier while improving the health of your lawn. Forget about raking up grass clippings or continually emptying the bag attachment on your lawn mower and make the change to mulch mowing. Though we were all raised to think we needed to remove clippings from the lawn, there are actually good reasons to leave them in place. You will end up with a healthier lawn while reducing the need to water and fertilize.

How to Mulch Mow Correctly

It is important to know that you may end up mowing more often if you mulch mow. It is recommended that only one-quarter to one-third of the grass blades be cut at each mowing. If your grass is three to four inches tall, only cut about one inch off the top. During peak growing season, this means you might mow every five to seven days instead of seven to ten. As you mow, leave the clippings in place. They will gradually decompose, increasing organic content and nutrient levels in the soil.

It is best not to mow your lawn when the grass is wet. You want the clippings to be dry when you mulch mow. Otherwise, they are likely to clump and stick together. Following the mowing height guidelines also helps to prevent clumping.

What About Thatch?

What About Thatch?While it is natural to assume that mulch mowing will increase thatch that is actually not the case. Thatch consists of grass stems and shoots at the soil level. Some grass varieties form thatch more readily than others. Decaying clippings do not contribute to the buildup of thatch. A better approach to controlling thatch is to make sure you do not overwater or apply too much fertilizer to your lawn and a yearly lawn aeration done in the fall helps to ensure thatch does not become a problem.

Can All Mowers Mulch Mow?

Most mowers with a bag attachment will work just as well with the bag removed. If you are not sure, look in the mower manual or check with your local lawn equipment store. Though some mower suppliers may say you need a special blade for mulch mowing, the regular mower blade works fine. There is no reason to get special mulch mowing equipment.

Other Benefits of Mulch Mowing

While they are still on your lawn, cut grass clippings provide some amount of shade for the soil. Though there may not be a big difference, shaded soil means less weed germination.  As the soil is slower to dry out, you may be able to wait an extra day or two between waterings. Over time, that adds up.

Decaying grass is essentially an organic fertilizer. As microbes break down the clippings, they improve the quality of the soil. In addition to watering less, you should be able to cut back on fertilizer for your lawn. Start with 10 to 15 percent less at each application.

Old habits are hard to break, but raking and bagging clippings is one that we can do without. If you are still not sure, try mulch mowing for a year. You will get used to not doing the extra work, and your lawn will look as good as it always does, if not better.

For all your lawn care needs contact your local Gardener.

Here’s that bit I was looking for photo credit to jeffreyw under cc 2.0

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