What Do I Do With My Grass Clippings?

One of the things homeowners don't enjoy in mowing their lawns is the amount of grass clippings that come out from using them. Grass clippings, which are the shreds of grass blades left after mowing a lawn, often leave homeowners and landscapers with the task of disposing large piles of debris.

Although many lawn mower models come attached with bags, this doesn't completely eliminate clippings from getting around the lawn. In some cases, though, leaving grass clippings on the lawn can actually help fertilize and grow the grass. As clippings are comprised of 80 percent water and 10 percent fiber, they definitely help – not hurt – grass growth. The remaining 10 percent contain nutrients that are found in manufactured fertilizers. In essence, you would be continuing the cycle of grass growth by using grass clippings as fertilizer.

Here are some other ways to make use of grass clippings:

  • Leave them on the lawn. You can leave grass clippings on the lawn to fertilize, especially if you have a mulching mower. These come with special blades that grind up the leaves and leave them behind on the lawn. It creates a natural form of fertilizer that contains all the needed nutrients, usually with 4 percent nitrogen, 2 percent potassium, and 1 percent phosphorus.
  • Collect and compost. Use a bagging mower or rake to collect the clippings from the lawn and create a compost pile. Grass clippings can be alternated with dried leaves or shredded newspaper to speed up the composting.
  • Make mulch. Grass clippings can also be used as mulch, especially for vegetable gardens that have tomatoes and peppers. The reason is because grass clippings generate heat as it decomposes, adding flavor and growth to the produce. They also provide a great source of natural nitrogen fertilizer and a source of food for earthworms, which creates more natural fertilizer in the soil.

Top Tips and Myths About Grass Clippings

Tip: Never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade at one time while mowing.

Removing more of the grass blade can damage the plant as well as create a big mess of grass clippings that are more work to remove.

Myth: Grass clippings cause thatch problems.

Thatch is actually made from excess stems, not from grass clippings. Things like heavy nitrogen fertilizing are more likely to cause thatch problems than grass clippings. Leaving grass clippings behind actually helps with thatch problems by feeding the lawn with slow-release nitrogen.

Tip: If you have lawn disease problems, collect and dispose the clippings. This will help stop the spread of disease.

Myth: Grass clipping don't fertilize lawns.

Just by leaving the grass clippings on the lawn, you can cut down the amount of nitrogen you need to add by 25 percent. In some cases, you can add around 2 pounds of nitrogen if you cut around 1,000 square feet of grass. This helps save money and time spent on fertilizing your lawn, especially if a lack of nitrogen is the issue.

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