A lawn of 1,000 square feet can produce between 200 and 500 pounds of grass clippings in one year. You could save lots of time and effort by recycling grass instead of bagging all those clippings. Simply put, grass recycling is leaving grass clippings where they fall. They are an excellent source of nitrogen, which is the main ingredient in many commercial fertilizers. Every time you mow your lawn and allow grass clippings to remain, you return valuable nutrients to the soil.
- Any mower can be used in grass recycling. Just remove the grass catching bag. In some mowers, it may be necessary to install a small plug or mulching adapter if you remove the bag. Ask at your local hardware store or lawn mower dealer.
- A mulching blade can also be attached to many existing mowers. This is helpful, but not necessary.
- When it's time to replace your mower, consider a mulching, recycling or non-polluting reel mower. All are excellent at shredding and scattering grass clippings.
- Regardless of what type of mower you use, it's important to keep the blades sharp. Dull blades tear the grass blades instead of cutting them. Excessive tearing will leave a brown tint on your lawn and can damage it.
- Don't cut more than one-third of the grass blade at one time. If your lawn is very high, raise the mower height. Over the next several mowings, lower the mower height. If you try to mow your lawn to a small size all at once, your lawn may go into shock.
- Never mow when the grass is wet.
Worried about thatch?
Thatch is composed of dead roots and stems and it looks like a matted carpet on top of your lawn. Small amounts of thatch will not damage your lawn. But if thatch is more than one-half inch thick, remove it since it could block air and sunlight. Excess water and fertilizer usually cause thatch. Some people think that thatch occurs when you don't rake the trimmings off your lawn. But grass clippings are about 80 percent water, so they decompose too quickly to contribute to thatch.
Other uses for grass clippings
Here are some uses for excess grass:
- Composting - Grass clippings are a great source of nitrogen in your pile. Make sure you add sufficient amounts of carbon or "brown materials."
- Mulching - Your grass clippings can also be used as mulch. Use about 1 inch of dried clippings around trees or flowerbeds. Mulching helps to prevent soil erosion and water evaporation. If your lawn is treated with herbicides, wait the two mowing periods after the lawn has been clipped before using it as mulch on other plants.