Some homeowners love the look of a “clean” mow— so they bag their grass clippings instead of letting them lie on their lawn. But reusing your grass clippings can benefit not only your turf but your entire landscape (if you compost it!).
Let’s learn a little more about this practice and put your leftover blades to good use:
What is Grasscycling?
It’s quite simple: grass + recycling = grasscycling. How do you recycle grass?
Instead of bagging your grass clippings every time you mow, let the grass lie on your turf! These freshly cut blades will break down and recontribute nutrients back into your soil.
Grasscycling can also involve collecting and bagging your grass clippings to reuse elsewhere, such as in your compost.
The whole point of the process is recycling the clippings, so as long as they’re being used and not tossed in a bag on the curb, you’re grasscycling!
Benefits of Grasscycling
Here are some important reasons to reuse your grass clippings:
- Less waste in landfills. Even if you only put out a bag a week for trash, it sure adds up fast. In fact, landfills received about 10.8 million tons of yard trimmings in 2015, comprising 7.8% of all MSW landfills, according to the EPA. While the organic matter breaks down fast in your yard, grass trapped inside a plastic bag can take years and years to decompose.
- Save time. Don’t worry about attaching a collection bag onto your mower or stopping every time one fills up to unload. Enjoy fewer trips to your curb or the garage bin too!
- Fertilize and water less. While grasscycling is not a substitute for fertilization, the organic matter and nutrients found in grass clippings can reduce the frequency you do so. The clippings have been shown to give back up 25% of your turf’s fertilization needs. The clippings break down and recontribute three important macronutrients: nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Learn more about the importance of these soil nutrients here. Additionally, these clippings are primarily made out of water so mulching them back into the lawn reduces watering and shades the ground to reduce weed habitat.
- Free compost. Take your grass clippings and add them to your compost, should you still want to remove them from your lawn. Composting can create a more nutrient-dense lawn, help to balance your soil’s pH levels and more. Best of all, you can use your compost on more than just your grass; give your plants or garden beds an extra boost too, with the help of your extra clippings. Read our post all about the benefits of nourishing your landscape with rich compost.
How to Grasscycle the Right Way
Can you really grasscycle incorrectly? Well, there certainly are ways you can do it more efficiently, to provide the most benefit to your landscape!
Here are a few grasscycling tips:
- Avoid scalping. Mowing too low (AKA scalping) can cause damage to your grass blades’ structure, which can lead to a dead turf in the long run. You also risk collecting a build-up of organic matter, which depending on how high you let your grass get prior to the cut or how frequently you mow, could “smother” your grass. If the clippings can’t break down fast enough or become water-logged, they can form a layer over your turf and stop it from absorbing important nutrients.
- Avoid mowing wet grass. The moisture can cause your clippings to clump and be unevenly distributed across your lawn.
- Be patient. Your grass blades aren’t going to break down and settle instantly, and it may take a few days for them to decompose and settle into your soil. While you want to mow a dry lawn, giving your turf a proper watering after you mow can help the clippings to integrate down to the soil.
- Purchase a mulcher blade. These special blades are designed to chop grass into smaller, finer pieces, making it easier for the clippings to break down. If you don’t want to invest in another blade (though they’re not that expensive!), be sure to keep your current one nice and sharp.
- Consider investing in a mulching mower. Mulching mowers are rotary mowers designed to cut your clippings into smaller pieces and disperse them more evenly throughout your lawn. They’re a grasscycler’s dream machine!
- Don’t worry about thatch! Researchers at the University of Missouri and beyond assure that clippings from cool and warm-season grasses do not contribute to thatch build-up. Thatch is formed when dead grass stems and roots accumulate, not clippings. Grass clippings are made up of over three-quarters of water mass, and the blades break down much quicker than roots.
- Do we mow for you? Then don’t worry all of our clippings our clients ask us to bag are grasscycled at a local Christmas tree farm maybe your lawn clippings are being composted to feed your next Christmas tree!
Don’t Forget to Fertilize
While grasscycling or adding clippings to your compost can help to nourish your turf, your soil can still benefit from seasonal fertilization.
Lucky for you, we have a free guide all about feeding your lawn: the Ultimate Guide to Fertilization. It outlines helpful tips on how to choose the best product, how to spread it for the most impact and more.
Download advice from our lawn care experts and get one step closer to greener grass, today!