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What To Do With Lawn Clippings?

Grasscycling is not a new phenomenon but has been debated for decades. It refers to the practise of returning the clippings of grass to the lawn to benefit it with the nutrients that it will provide. Simply recycling the grass can save countless space in landfills, and provide your home with healthy, glossy and green grass.

The grass left on the lawn after mowing is referred to as lawn clippings. Lawn clippings provide nutrients for the lawn as well as acting a retainer to seal the moisture into the ground. At most times it is beneficial for the lawn to have the clippings left on top of the grass. As the remnants from the lawn decompose they release valuable levels nitrogen into the lawn allowing it to be fertilized.

Many mowers bag the lawn clippings – leaving them unable to provide nutrients. After the clippings have been collected and so long as they are fresh it is beneficial and cost effective to apply these clippings to the lawn. These lawn clippings will provide more than twenty five percent of the grasses fertilizer needs.

Grass clippings decompose quickly as they are more than eighty percent water. It has been proving that these clippings do not contribute to thatch, or other lawn problems. Since they are of high water content they decompose quickly and practically odourless.

If the lawn has been treated with herbicide or weed killer, it is fine to return the clippings to the lawn. This will do no harm to the lawn, and allow the herbicides to be released into the ground – becoming more effective.

Use good judgement when returning lawn clippings to the grass. Less is more is often the case because excessive amounts do more damage than good. Clippings should not be returned to the lawn when there are remnants present. This creates a blockage, and doesn’t enable the required sunlight to reach the grass.  

There are instances when lawn clippings are not beneficial to the lawn. If mowing while the grass is wet – the clippings will only adhere to the lawn and cause a lumpy appearance which is not only unsightly but unhealthy for the lawn as well. These large wet clumps smother the grass from receiving sun, nutrients and water.

If the lawn is diseased than the grass clippings should be removed from the lawn immediately. The clippings will only increase the risk of the disease spreading and becoming more of a problem. Removing the clippings will help further prevent the disease, as there is less grass in the diseased population.

It has been extensively debated whether to use the clippings on the lawn. If the clippings are not used on the lawn they become a valuable compost ingredient. If a large amount of clippings are added to the compost pile it may create problems with unwanted odours. When adding grass to compost it is best to create a ratio of wood chips, or dry leaves to lessen the odour.

It is important to remember that if the lawn has been treated with fertilizer or other chemicals that the clippings should not be placed in compost. Placing these items in compost is risky to the whole ecosystem – as each chemical ingredient may break down at different rates while releasing different by-products into the environment.

It has been thought in the past that leaving clippings to fertilize the lawn resulted in problems with thatch. Thatch describes a layer under the ground of decomposing stems and roots and low shoots. Returning clippings to the lawn is gaining in popularity as more and more people become aware of the benefits that it provides – Not only for our lawns but for the earth as a whole.

For additional information on lawn care or related topics please visit our lawn care article center.


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