Is It Bad to Leave Grass Clippings on Your Lawn?

Lawn Connections Landscape

Have you been gathering grass clippings after completing mowing and maintaining your lawn? Well, a lot of people have been doing this. It is every individual’s wish for their lawn to be healthy so cleaning it after mowing comes naturally. It’s almost like second nature. You wouldn’t want the grass clippings left behind to accumulate and cause thatch problems, right? Wrong. Studies show that grass clippings do not affect the health of the lawn in any way. Read on for more information on how leaving grass clippings on your lawn can improve the health of your lawn.

What Is Thatch?

Let’s familiarize ourselves with thatch before we get into the specifics on the health benefits of grass clippings. Thatch refers to layers of plant material that accumulate over time. Thatch forms from the leaves, shoots, and roots of plant material. It is usually found between the roots of grass and the grass itself. A little thatch on your lawn can be beneficial since it protects the roots of the grass. Thatch prevents oxygen, moisture, and nutrients from getting into the soil if it grows on a large scale.

It is only natural to think that grass clippings should give the same problems as thatch since thatch develops from such plant material.  What you need to know is that grass clippings consist of water mostly. When the clippings dry they remain with little biomass. This biomass content is a useful component for the health of your lawn.

Nutrients in the Clippings

Grass clippings contribute a significant amount of nutrients that your grass needs when you leave them behind after mowing. Some of these nutrients include nitrogen, phosphorous, and nitrogen. These minerals leach into the soil when the clippings break down. This prompts the roots of your grass to grow outwards which builds upon their strength. Besides, microorganisms found in the soil also feed on these nutrients. These microorganisms assist in getting rid of the thatch in your lawn by eating them. The lesser the thatch in your grass the more water and oxygen penetrate through the soil for the benefit of the grass.

Timing Is Key

You’ll have to master the art of perfect timing when you want to derive the maximum benefit from grass clippings. It is best to wait until the grass in the lawn is about 3 inches tall before mowing it. This will ensure the clippings generated by the mower are small enough to fit between the blades of the remaining standing grass. As a result, the clippings will decompose faster. The rule of the thumb is to make sure that when you mow the grass, the clippings will be at least a third of the height of the grass.

If you cut the grass too short then you’ll be putting the lawn at risk. Some homeowners prefer this “marine cut” but short grass allows excess sunlight to penetrate the soil which results in too much water loss through evaporation. Additionally, short grass exposes the soil to intense airflow. These factors will diminish the root growth of your grass.

Lawn Diseases Resulting from Inefficient Airflow

It is advisable to leave grass clippings on your lawn but you have to do it the right way. If you do it haphazardly you risk a lot. Grass clippings can be a hazard for your lawn when:

  • The clippings are too thick.
  • Your lawn is wet thus making the clippings stick to each other.
  • You cut the grass too short.

In every case, the clippings will interfere with the efficient flow of air to the soil. Poor airflow breeds diseases in the lawn. Fungal diseases in particular thrive in these conditions. Some of the diseases that can result from handling the clippings improperly include powdery mildew, brown patch, dollar spot, and Pythium blight

Clippings in Compost

Sometimes it is necessary to remove clippings from your lawn. This doesn’t mean that you should destroy them completely. That will be a huge waste. Grass clippings can act as the green matter for your compost pile. Grass clippings break down faster since their main composition is just water. As they decompose, they release heat. This heats then facilitates the breaking down of other components in the compost bin which promotes their faster decomposition. You can use grass clippings in tandem with other brown components for the compost pile.

Mulching Mowers Are The Best Alternatives

When you are using a regular mower you’ll have to balance between leaving and removing clippings from your lawn over time. This way you always enjoy the benefits of leaving clippings on the lawn. You won’t have to deal with the trouble that comes from improper use of the clippings.

On the other hand, you can switch to mulch mowers to save yourself all the trouble. Mulching mowers chop the clippings more finely. They enable you to leave the clippings on the lawn without having to worry each time you mow it. All you have to do is make sure that you distribute the clippings evenly so that you don’t leave them in clumps.

Clippings from mulch mowers are smaller hence they fall to the soil’s surface through the gas with ease. They break down faster to provide the needed nutrients to your soil. Unlike large clippings that add extra heat to the lawn, smaller clippings keep the soil’s temperature cool in addition to preventing evaporation losses.

Contact the Experts at Lawn Connections

Having to rake and pick up grass clippings after every mowing session is tiresome. It’s enough to push you to contemplate converting your beautiful lawn into a parking lot. There’s no need to take extreme measures to alleviate the situation. Grass clippings are healthy for your lawn when you leave them there after mowing. The important thing is to ensure that you leave these clippings in a condition that will have a positive effect on the grass. As you already know, leaving the clippings on the lawn in an inappropriate manner will only make things worse for you. It’s time to get in touch with Lawn Connections if you have further questions about leaving clippings on your lawn. We are happy to offer our assistance and share our expertise with you.