What to do with Grass Clippings

We get a lot of questions from people wondering what to do with grass clippings. Before you even think about throwing grass clippings away, read on. Grass clippings are an underused resource for most homeowners.

If you have a mulching mower, you can leave grass clippings on the lawn. They’ll quickly dry up and break down, providing a great source of natural nitrogen for the grass. This technique works best only if you mow when the grass is not wet and as long as you’re not removing more than 1/3 of the grass blade at once. (Wet, matted clumps of grass can invite fungal diseases to take up residence on the lawn.)

Contrary to popular myth, leaving grass clippings on the lawn does not lead to thatch problems. Thatch is caused by poor mowing practices, soil compaction, and stress. If you leave your clippings on the lawn, you’ll actually have a healthier lawn in need of less fertilizer. Plus you won’t have to decide what to do with the clippings.

Grass clippings as mulch

Talk to people who grow a lot of tomatoes and you’ll find that one of their secrets is mulching the tomato garden with grass clippings. Grass clippings make great mulch for vegetable gardens. The clippings help keep moisture in, weeds out, and add nutrients to the soil. Let the clippings age for a week or so in a bag before spreading them around your vegetables, though. And make sure not to mound the clippings up around the plant stems.

Composting grass clippings

Making your own compost is a wonderful way to have nutrient-rich soil for growing vegetables, flowers, and even to spread back on the lawn. Layer grass clippings with shredded leaves, newspaper, or other dried, chopped plant materials in a compost pile. You can turn the pile monthly, or let it sit and rot. Within the year you’ll have usable compost for your garden.

So, what should you do with grass clippings? The choice is yours. Just don’t throw them away!

The calendar says it's spring, but the weather doesn't in many parts of the United States. It's still time to think about spring lawn care, though, even if it isn't time to actually do much spring lawn care. Here's what you should be thinking about in order to get your lawn off to a good start this spring.

Get out the Mower

Take your mower out of winter storage and prep it for spring use. Make sure that the blades are sharp, that there's fresh gasoline and fresh oil in the tanks and a clean or new air filter. You'll probably have to re-connect the spark plugs. (You might consider new spark plugs at this point.) If the mower needs any servicing, get it in to be looked at now before the shops get busy. (It could be too late for that in some areas!)

Clear the Lawn

If the grass has started growing again and you need to mow start by doing a walk around of the lawn and picking up any sticks, rocks, or other debris that might have fallen on the lawn during the winter. You don't want to dull your sharp new mower blade right off the bat! Also, running over rocks or twigs with the lawnmower can be dangerous.

Scout for Weeds

Were winter weeds a problem this year? Now is the time to remove them (before they go to seed) to prevent the same weeds from coming back next year. Use post-emergent herbicide or hand-dig any weeds that have taken over the lawn.

Overseed Thin Areas

Late March and early April are good times to overseed cool-season lawns to thicken thinning turf areas. Now is also a time to identify and repair damage from the winter.

Wait for the Lawn to Drain

Before bringing any heavy equipment onto the lawn, wait for it to drain. Mowing, walking on, or driving on a wet lawn can compact the soil, which will impair grass growth in the future.

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