Want to improve the look of your lawn without putting any additional time or money into it? Well, hold onto those grass clippings and say hello to “grasscycling,” the yard maintenance practice that might just give new life to your yard.
What is ‘grasscycling’?
Grasscycling is the process of leaving lawn clippings on the lawn to decompose back into the soil. It’s not exactly a new idea, but more people are turning to this type of yard maintenance and rejecting the notion that they should dispose of their grass clippings.
Why grasscycling is good for your lawn
While many homeowners choose to dispose of their lawn waste, those grass clippings would be much better left to decompose right in your yard. Why? First and foremost, they help build a healthier lawn.
“Grass clippings left on the lawn quickly break down and feed soil organisms, provide nutrients to plants, and contribute organic matter to the soil,” says Ruth Givens of the Master Gardener program at the University of Idaho Extension. “As the clippings break down, they provide a constant and even source of nutrients.”
The clippings break down quickly because they are about 90% water, according to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. And as the clippings decompose, they release nutrients such as nitrogen back into your lawn.
“Returning grass clippings to the lawn reduces the amount of fertilizer needed,” Givens said. In fact, it’s estimated the nitrogen incorporated back into your soil from grasscycling is equivalent to one or two fertilizer applications each year.
How to grasscycle the right way
The key to successful grasscycling is to mow regularly so grass clippings are short.
“Regular mowing is important so that a thick layer of clippings does not damage the turf,” Givens says.
If you find yourself with longer clippings, mow over them again to help cut them down to size, and scatter them. Then try to establish a regular mowing schedule.
The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery also recommends keeping the mower blades sharp, mowing when the grass is dry, and mowing only one-third of the length of the grass blade so the lawn isn’t cut too short. You’ll be rewarded with a lawn that has deeper roots, is healthier, and is more disease- and drought-resistant.
If you’re in the market for a new mower, you may want to consider a mulching or recycling mower that chops the grass into tiny pieces, making grasscycling that much easier.
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