Posted: October 8, 2008 in Nitegator

Mulching versus bagging the clippings that occur when you mow your lawn is not a hard decision. If you (or your lawn service) bag and remove the clippings when your lawn is mowed, you are probably doing yourself and your lawn a disservice. Mulching is a ‘best practice’ for lawn care in almost all instances.

Grass clippings are actually beneficial to your lawn if handled properly. By using a mulching mower, you will: have a healthier lawn, save on fertilizer costs and save over 30% of the time involved in cutting your yard. Mulched grass clippings recycle the fertilizer you have already applied to your yard. In addition, the clippings can supply about 30% of the nitrogen your lawn needs to keep green and healthy.

If you have resisted using a mulching mower on your lawn, it may be that you are concerned about Thatch buildup. In reality, using a mulching mower properly has no more effect on thatch buildup than using a regular mower and bagging the clippings. How can this be? Since you are cutting your yard regularly and cutting no more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time, you are only cutting the leaf of the plant. Grass leaf is nearly 90% water and it decomposes in just a couple of weeks. Consequently, leaving the mulched clippings in your yard just returns the minerals and nutrients to the soil; and, nitrogen is released as the leaf decomposes.

Mulching also save your time and money. By eliminating the time it takes to stop and empty your mower bag of clippings (or raking them from your yard), and then bagging them to be picked up by the garbage service, you will save 30% or more of the time it takes to mow your yard. You also eliminate the cost of the trash bags you use and you stretch the value of your fertilizer. By making your fertilizer more effective, you save even more because you have to spend less time and money fertilizing your yard.

Since some people have been slow to understand the value of the use of mulching mowers, some lawn care services continue to leave collection bags attached to their commercial mowers. In many cases, those mowers are equipped with mulching blades and the chute that leads to the collection bags are blocked. The result is that the lawn service saves time and treats the lawn properly by mulching while the homeowner feels good because they thing the clippings are being bagged. The negative of all this is that it perpetuates the idea that bagging is better than mulching.

There is a least one situation when your clippings should be bagged and removed. If you are suffering from a bout of Brown Patch or other fungal disease in your yard, the clipping from the infected area should be bagged and taken away. To mulch the clippings in a yard that has a Brown Patch problem will just prolong the problem and spread the infection to other areas of the yard.

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