There is a lot of debate surrounding the use of grass clippings as fertilizer. Some people swear by it, while others think that it does more harm than good. Lush Green wants to put the debate to rest, so keep reading for answers to all your questions about grass clippings!
Grass Clippings Become Natural Fertilizer
To answer the big questions right off the bat — Yes. Grass clippings are good for your lawn. As is the case with anything you apply to your grass, there are certain conditions and exceptions to this rule. Diseased and wet grass, for example, can pose problems if they are left to decompose on your lawn, but recycling healthy grass clippings back into your lawn is one of the best and easiest ways to keep it healthy!
Grass clippings work as fertilizers because they are made up of the same nutrients that commercial fertilizers contain. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are all found in grass clippings, which means they can help to improve the health of your lawn when used as a fertilizer. When you mow your lawn, you are essentially giving it a haircut. Just like our hair, grass produces new growth after it is cut. This new growth requires nutrients to thrive, and grass clippings are an excellent source of those nutrients!
Clippings Improve & Protect Your Soil
In addition to providing essential nutrients, grass clippings also help to improve soil structure. As they decompose, grass clippings release carbon dioxide, which helps to aerate the soil. This aeration is important for the health of your lawn because it allows air and water to reach the roots of your grass, which is essential for healthy growth.
Clippings also serve as mulch when they are mowed and left atop your lawn. Just like any other form of organic mulch, grass clippings protect your soil before they decompose and enrich the soil once they are reabsorbed. Harmful factors like UV rays, temperature swings, weed seeds, and even pests can all be mitigated when you use grass clippings in your lawn care routines.
Grass Clippings Do Not Attract Pests
A common concern among homeowners is that grass clippings will attract pests to their lawn. This is simply not true! Grass clippings do not contain any nutrients that would be appealing to pests. In fact, most pests are more attracted to the moisture found in fresh-cut grass than they are to the clippings. So, if you are worried about attracting pests to your lawn with grass clippings, you can rest easy knowing that it is not a problem!
Thatch Is Not Caused By Grass Clippings
Another common concern is that grass clippings will cause thatch to build up on your lawn. Thatch is a layer of dead and decaying plant material that can impede the growth of your grass. While it is true that thatch can be a problem for lawns, it is not caused by grass clippings. In most cases, dead parts of roots and stems cause the majority of thatch buildup. Grass clippings, however, are 80 to 90 percent water, meaning grass leaf blades largely do not contribute to thatch.
When To Avoid Using Grass Clippings
While grass clippings are generally good for your lawn, there are a few situations and times at which you should avoid using them. If any of the following situations apply to you and your lawn, it would be best to bag grass clippings as you mow. Generally speaking, grass clippings should only be used on mostly healthy lawns.
- Newly Seeded Or Sodded Lawns – Avoid using grass clippings on lawns that are not yet established. Clippings could suffocate new seedlings trying to emerge through the soil for the first time. Wait until your new lawn has reached 3 inches to start mulch-mowing regularly.
- Diseased Lawns – If your lawn is suffering from a disease, it is best to bag the clippings and dispose of them. Spores from some diseases could be spread by grass clippings, leading to further problems for your lawn.
- Wet Grass – Wet grass clippings can mat down and suffocate your lawn. It is best to let wet grass dry out before mowing or bag the clippings when you mow. Waiting until your lawn is dry to the touch is always a good idea for mulch-mowing.
- Tall Grass – If you forget a couple weeks of mowing and grass starts to grow out of control, it is best to wait until you are able to gradually mow it down to its normal, healthy length. Clippings that are too large will have trouble decomposing.
How To Use Grass Clippings For Lawn Care
Finally, let’s take a look at some important tips on how to properly use grass clippings in your lawn. Utilizing clippings is as easy as removing the bag on your lawn mower when you cut the grass. Follow the guidelines below to make sure your lawn stays lush and green, or call your local lawn care professional to make sure the job gets done the right way!
- Determine what length you want your grass to be. For most lawns, 3 inches is a healthy height.
- Make sure never to remove more than the top 1/3 of grass length. This will allow your lawn to better repair itself and prevent clippings from suffocating your lawn.
- Clean your lawn mower before every use. An unclean mower deck, wheels, or blades can promote fungal growth, which will spread across your lawn as you mow.
- Keep mower blades sharp! A dull blade will result in unhealthy grass and mangled clippings that could attract lawn diseases, pests, weeds, and more issues.
- Mow regularly and rotate directions. Alternating mowing patterns allow you to effectively cover more ground with the clippings, and a weekly schedule ensures continued health.
- Leave the clippings behind you as you mow. Make sure the bag is removed so that the clippings can fall to the ground and be reabsorbed into your lawn.