Undoubtedly, a well-maintained lawn adds beauty to a home and is a home owner’s source of pride. Nevertheless, mowing the lawn leaves behind lots of yard waste. So how can you put the waste to good use?
In other words, is it good to use grass clippings as mulch? Grass clippings are good to be used as mulch because, typically, adding mulch around vegetables, flowers, shrubs, and trees helps reduce weeds, preserve moisture, and regulate soil temperatures. However, avoid using grass clippings as mulch if you have unhealthy grass or have recently treated your lawn with an herbicide, as it may harm your plants.
If you are still wondering about Mulching Blades and Regular and want to know which one to choose, I wrote an article I encourage you to read.
Let’s further explore the benefits of using grass clippings as mulch for your garden.
Using Grass Clippings For Garden Mulching
After mowing your lawn, you can put the dried or fresh grass trimming in the lawnmower bag for disposal or as mulch. Mulch helps keep your crops’ root zone cool and conserve moisture. As it decays, it provides up to 25% of the nutrients your crops or lawn need.
The grass trimmings are rich in nitrogen and other minerals that can help your plants to grow and flourish.
The beauty of using grass clippings in your garden is that they break down faster, meaning they do not form thatches or hard layers on the soil’s surface.
Tips for Mulching with Grass Clippings
Fresh or dry grass clipping used for mulching is beneficial for your garden and the crops; however, it is essential to know how to apply it.
Let’s consider some tips worth considering when mulching.
1- Use The Right Amount
When applying fresh clippings as mulch, ensure you lay the right amount. Ensure the layer is no more than ¼ inch or 6mm thick. A relatively small thickness will facilitate the breakdown of the grass into manure before it starts to rot or smell.
Thicker layers could retain more water, become wet, and increase the chances of molds or crop decay issues.
On the other hand, dried grass clippings can make an excellent side dress for your garden and can also be used to line paths to keep mud down.
2- Ensure The Mulch Is Herbicide Or Chemical-Free
If you recently sprayed your lawn with herbicide, the grass clippings may not be appropriate for mulching crops.
Herbicides take a long time to break down fully; therefore, one should allow sufficient time to pass before using the affected grass trimmings.
3- Ensure The Grass Clippings Are The Right Length
Longer grass clippings take time to decay and may damage the crops than help. So, ensure the mower produces at most 1-inch-long grass clipping for mulching.
4- Use The Right Mower
A mulching mower is ideal for grass clipping you intend to use for mulching. This mower is known for shredding the grass from the lawn into smaller pieces that fit mulching.
Nevertheless, your choice of mower depends on the budget, the lawn size, and mowing habits. Generally, the mulching mower is ideal for grass clippings needed for mulching.
You might also enjoy reading: Top 7 Lawn Mowers For a Beautiful Lawn.
5- Mow Regularly
If you want to use your grass trimmings for mulching, it would be an excellent idea to mow frequently so that your cut no more than 1/3 of the grass blade.
When the grass grows faster in the spring, you may need to mow every five days. Regular cutting reduces your turf’s stresses and enhances the mowers’ efficiency.
Furthermore, if you allow the lawn grass to grow excessively tall before mowing, you may be forced to rake or bag the clippings to prevent matting the lawn. Again, this underscores the need for frequent mowing.
6- Keep The Mower’s Blade Sharp
A mower with a sharp blade ensures you properly cut the grass into the ideal size for mulching. A blunt blade will only damage the lawn and increase the chances of diseases spreading on your lawn.
However, sharp blades increase your work rate and produce a clean lawn.
Pros And Cons of Using Grass Clippings Leftover as Mulch
Using grass clippings for mulching has numerous advantages to the crops and the garden, but it also has its drawbacks, especially if laid too thick.
Let’s highlight the pros before we discuss the cons.
Pros of Using Grass Clippings For Mulching
Grass clippings are an excellent mulch option. But what is mulching? It is the act of spreading grass clippings or leaves on the garden to prevent excess evaporation, enhance soil aeration, prevent soil erosion, and suppress weed growth.
Here are the pros of using grass clippings for mulching:
1- They Act As a Natural Fertilizer
If you apply grass clippings as a mulch, they decay and are absorbed into the soil as fertilizer. Therefore, they reduce the cost of fertilizer by introducing essential minerals to the garden.
Grass clippings are high in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous, which can be introduced to the soil through mulching. This forms a natural fertilizer to keep your crops and lawn looking healthy.
The table below shows data from the Lawn Institute indicating the number of nutrients from your lawn per 1000 square feet.
|Nutrient||Amount Mowed Per 1,000 Square Feet|
The above table shows that mulching with grass clippings can significantly reduce fertilizer costs because you may not need to buy nitrogen fertilizers.
Check this article from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, on how to correctly calculate the amount of fertilizer required for your lawn.
2- Clipping Helps Hydrate The Soil
Using grass clippings for mulching helps to retain moisture in the soil and keep it hydrated in drought conditions.
In addition, the mulch helps to reduce the sun’s heat intensity shade-like protection, thus minimizing evaporation from the soil.
Furthermore, the grass has high water content, which means using them as mulch is equivalent to watering the crops. The heat from the sun will first drain the water on the grass, thus allowing the crops to utilize the soil moisture.
3- Prevents Weed Growth
Mulching provides a shade that inhibits sunlight from reaching weed seeds in the soil. Limited light stops these seeds from germinating and growing.
Mulching also makes it easy to pull out any weeds that pass through the grass clippings.
4- It Adds Organic Matter To The Soil
Grass trimmings breaks down easily, so when mulching, they decompose into organic matter, providing nutrients to the soil.
Increased organic matter in the soil enhances its structure and drainage, supporting the plants’ healthy growth.
5- It Acts As Food For Worms And Microbes
Soil has essential worms and microbes that help to make nutrients ready for plant use. These microbes break down the mulching while the worms eat the mulch and the microbes.
Since the mulch provides food for the microbes and worms, it enhances soil microbe balance. Additionally, the increased worms help to release nutrients from the decaying organic matter, making them available for plants.
6- It Reduces Landfill Waste
Mulching helps to reduce the amount of organic matter that ends up in a landfill. This means less methane released into the atmosphere and a positive impact on climate change.
Grass clippings in the landfill could contaminate underground water, resulting in serious help issues. Using grass clipping as mulch reduces the smell of rotting green grass from a landfill that could add to air pollution.
7- It Reduces Soil Erosion
Erosion washes away soil nutrients, leaving your crops malnourished. However, mulching protects against erosion and keeps the nutrients intact for plants to utilize.
Cons of Using Grass Clippings As Mulch
Let’s discuss the drawback of using grass clippings to mulch your garden.
8- It Can Be Smelly And Anaerobic
If you use thick fresh clippings, they can break down without oxygen, producing bad smells.
Also, when they mix with water, grass clippings can start to rot and release harmful gasses that pollute the environment.
9- It Can Be Soggy
Laying a thick fresh grass clipping as mulch can be soggy. This is because these clippings are rich in moisture.
Tip: You can avoid this issue by drying the grass clippings before using them as mulch (Source: The University of Minnesota)
10- They Can Create Harmful Molds
If you use wet and thick mulch, you may create molds, especially in the shaded areas of the garden. Molds are not good for your crops since they are a perfect breeding ground for diseases.
Tip: You can prevent this problem by reducing the mulch thickness and drying the grass clippings before use.
11- They Can Attract Bugs And Flies
The rotting wet grass clippings can attract flies, bugs, and ants due to their high moisture content. Bugs and ants are not good for your crops since they eat essential microbes and can also attack the plants.
Tip: You can avoid this problem using dry grass clippings mixed with bark chips.
12- They Can Spread Weed Seeds
If you use grass clippings with weed seeds, you may transfer the weeds to your crops instead of preventing their growth.
Tip: If you know the grass clippings have weed seeds break them through a hot composting method or place them in the bin.
13- Grass Clippings Can Be Blown Away By Strong Winds
If you use pure grass clippings to mulch your garden, they can be blown away by strong winds, leaving the surface bare.
Grass clippings are ideal for mulching if you know how to use them. The following tips are essential:
- Ensure the grass they are herbicide-free
- Ensure they are of the right size
- Ensure they do not have weed seeds
- Use the right thickness
- Use dry grass clippings to avoid molds and rot
- Use the right mulching mower to cut your lawn