Grass – Cut it and Leave it!

Why not bag your clippings?Lawn Mower Man Gardener Cartoon

  1. Grass clippings add valuable nutrients and organic matter to the soil and produce healthy, green lawns.
  2. Clippings reduce the need for grass fertilizer and water requirements, which minimize chemical runoff entering storm drains and polluting creeks, rivers, and lakes.
  3. Mowing time is reduced since bagging and disposal of clippings is eliminated.
  4. Bagged clippings are a significant source of landfill waste. Each acre of grass can yield over 6 tons of clippings per year. Grass clippings are too valuable to throw away!

Do clippings cause thatch build-up?

No. Research has shown that grass roots are the primary cause of thatch. Thatch is composed mainly of roots, stems, rhizomes, crowns, and stolons, which contain large amounts of lignin and decompose slowly.

Grass clippings are approximately 80-85 percent water with only small amounts of lignin, and decompose rapidly. Some grasses such as Bermuda grass and kikuyugrass are more thatch-prone than others.

Do clippings spread lawn disease?

No. Improper watering and fertilizing are the primary cause of disease spread. If an accommodating environment for turfgrass disease is present, infestation will occur whether clippings are collected or not.

Other uses for your clippings

  1. Mulch clippings into your garden. Spread them an inch thick to cool the soil, retain water, and smother weed seeds.
  2. Mix them with your soil. New Jersey soils can be improved by adding organic matter. Added organic materials make heavy clay soils become more productive and sandy soils retain more water.
  3. Add to your compost pile. Grass speeds up your composting. Make sure you turn your compost pile regularly to add oxygen and control odors.

Mow Smart!

To maintain your lawn properly, mow high and mow often. Most New Jersey lawns should be mowed 2.5 to 3.5 inches high (like the rough beside a golf course fairway), especially in summer, to shade the soil, cool the roots, and block weed growth. Mulching mowers help with this task; they chop the clippings into fine pieces that slip easily down to the soil. Most new mowers are muching mowers, and you can attach mulching equipment to your existing mower.