Everyone wants to have a beautiful-looking lawn but has a few questions. Recently, someone asked me this question, should I leave grass clippings on lawn?
So, I decided to craft this article in a bid to share my professional advice to everyone who might be looking for answers to this question.
Here’s what you need to know.
Should I Leave Grass Clippings On Lawn
Yes, it is okay to leave grass clippings on the lawn. Moreover, they are healthy for your lawn and have multiple advantages. For example, they decompose and release water and nutrients into the lawn’s soil. So, eventually, the grass grows healthier, greener, and thicker.
However, it would be best to learn how to grass cycle or use the clippings the right way. Please check out this article for an in-depth discussion and more lawn maintenance instructions.
How Often Should You Leave Grass Clippings on Lawn?
It would be best to mow the lawn more often if you intend to leave grass clippings behind. In addition, you can consider mowing the yard at least once a week, especially during the growing season.
This way, you will have a better impact on turf quality than any other lawn care routine practice. Grass cycling or leaving grass clippings on your lawn is among the best practices for your grass.
Grass clippings still possess various nutrients they pulled from the soil for blade growth. So, these nutrients return to the soil as the lawn clippings break down and act as a natural fertilizer.
They contain about 4-1-2 fertilizer for your lawn, meaning 4% nitrogen, 1% phosphorous, and 2% potassium content.
Even better, this is the needed nutrient composition for a healthy yard. On top of that, grass clippings decompose faster in the yard than anywhere else.
Hence, the lawn is the best place to leave them. Also, once you think of them as natural fertilizer that returns essential nutrients to the law, you will graciously leave them on the lawn.
Besides, trashing and bagging grass clippings remove nutrients from your garden.
A closer investigation at lawns reveals that yards without grass clippings need extra fertilizer to maintain steady and healthy grass growth.
Also, gathering and disposing of grass clipping is time and energy-consuming. Therefore, you rob the soil of needed resources while wasting time and energy, which is not worth it.
Conversely, there are scenarios where it is not prudent to leave clippings. A good example is when the lawn has any kind of disease. Otherwise, the clippings will help the problem persist.
Also, it would be best to gather and dispose of wet grass clippings when mowing during a wet season.
So, ensure that you remove the clumps to provide a conducive environment for the other lawn grass to grow.
Finally, you may want to eliminate grass clippings when the grass is too long. Also, this practice will help preserve the lawn when furrows of clippings are lying on the lawn.
This way, you’ll still keep a clean yard. However, there are two options for the above scenario.
You can either mow the rows frequently to break them into smaller clippings or gather them. It all depends on the available time and lawn mowers.
Do Grass Clippings Help New Grass Grow?
Yes. Grass clippings help new grass grow. They contain nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, which are crucial for new grass growth.
In addition, grass clippings are easy to find and keep on the lawn. Therefore, they are perfect for your lawn maintenance routine.
Believe it or not, grass clippings on your lawn provide the soil with additional shade. This way, the soil keeps moisture for an extended duration.
Therefore, the new grass will not wither because of limited moisture. In addition, shaded soil is often less vulnerable to weeds, which harm new grass.
Weeds take up nutrients and thus may leave limited nutrients for the new grass. So, it would be best to keep them away using grass clippings.
However, excessive and thick clumps of grass clippings can harm the lawn or the new grass.
Therefore, leaving a reasonable amount that helps the new grass would be best. Also, you can consult with a lawn expert on the correct proportions.
Besides, a few tricks in recycling grass clippings will ensure a successful lawn project. For instance, it would be better to ensure the grass does not get too long between mowing.
Longer grass clippings may give the yard more of a mown hayfield appearance, especially if they stay on top of the lawn.
Therefore, please pass over already cut clippings to break them further and help them decompose faster. In addition, it would be best to spread the grass clippings evenly across the yard.
Otherwise, leaving them in thick rows will hinder healthy grass growth. So, mow when the grass is dry and use a sharp mower blade.
These tips require you to be more careful during low maintenance. But they will go a long way to ensure that clippings are more of a blessing than a curse to your new grass.
What Is the Best Thing to Do With Grass Clippings?
Grass clippings are useful to the lawn as they offer extra nutrients to the soil. However, it would be best to ensure they are in the recommended portions.
Extra grass clippings are not ideal for the yard, and it is prudent to get other uses for them.
Fortunately, there are some uses for grass clippings, and you do not have to throw them away. Check this list out!
Add Grass clippings to Compost Pile
Grass clippings are an excellent nitrogen source, and they break down quickly. Thus, you can mix them well with straw, cardboard, shredded paper, and other fibrous material to add to the compost pile.
Insects and microbes will get on the job much faster as the weather warms up. Then, you’ll have plenty of manure to spread on the lawn or garden during autumn.
Use as Mulch in Garden Beds
Grass clippings are a perfect alternative to help retain moisture in the soil for your garden plants. Therefore, you will not struggle to water the garden, suppress weeds, or feed the plants over time.
Spread a thick clippings layer about two to three inches around the plants and beds. Also, you can top up when necessary during the season because the mulch height drops as the grass clippings decompose.
Besides, worms may take the grass clippings into the soil and leave a thin layer on the bed. Therefore, it would be best to keep assessing the mulch and add more clippings when needed.
Use As a Mulch for Grass
This recommendation may sound off the charts, but grass clippings are perfect for new grass growth.
Hence, please spread the materials evenly around the lawn instead of bagging or throwing them away.
The cut grass usually breaks down and provides rich nutrients for the soil. In other words, it feeds the loan and keeps you from having to lug a heavy bag of clippings around the yard.
Therefore, you’ll save your energy while enriching the garden. Even so, it would be best to consult with your HOA requirements or local ordinances to confirm whether it is okay to grass cycle.
Also, please check with a lawn expert if you doubt how to use grass clippings as mulch for new grass.
NB: Try to spread the cut grass thinly to avoid blocking light underneath the clippings and kill the grass. In addition, it would be better to use smaller clippings as they break down faster and do not create a thatch in the lawn.
- As a Mulch for Planting Containers
Containers heat up and dry out very fast during hot weather, especially in summer times. Fortunately, you can use a thick layer of grass clippings for the container around your plants to help retain more moisture.
- Make Into a Liquid Feed
It is possible to make your liquid feed from grass clippings. All you need is to steep a couple of cut grass handfuls in a bucket of water. Then, keep the water indoors to keep mosquitoes away or use an organic mosquito control alternative.
Wait for about two weeks and check the mixture. The water will smell terrible, but the plants will love it. Then, pour the mixture into the watering can and water the garden. Even better, you can use it for perennial weeds.
- As a Livestock Feed
You can use cut grass to supplement your livestock’s diet, especially if you cut it with a hand push or an electric mower. In addition, it is okay to use the grass to feed rabbits and quinoa pigs.
Nonetheless, it would be best to avoid using wet clippings on animals. They spoil quickly and can make the livestock sick.
- Layer in a Raised Bed
It is possible to use grass clippings to provide nutrients for a raised or hugelkultur bed. Even better, they build the bed, and you do not have to use more composite to get the desired volume.
In addition, the clippings help break the carbon-rich fibrous material in the hugelkultur bed for faster results.
- Leave Them on the Lawn
Finally, leave clippings on the yard frequently as they are an excellent nitrogen source. Better still, they act as a natural fertilizer for your yard. Also, recycling grass clippings account for 25 percent of the lawn’s annual nitrogen requirements.
However, please ensure that you leave the correct amount of grass clippings on the yard. Otherwise, they may cause the grass to burn or lose color. So, it would be best only to cut a short part of the leaf if you plan to leave it on the lawn.
How Long Does It Take For Grass Clippings to Decompose?
Grass clippings need about three to four weeks to decompose. However, they are not visible after one to two weeks because they will reach the soil level and break down.
In addition, clippings added to compost pile break down fully in one to three months.
Fortunately, you can easily manage the grass clippings during the decomposition process by spreading them evenly on the lawn after mowing. This way, they break down faster and return the nutrients to the soil.
Dethatching the lawn also helps grass clippings break down faster. Remember that clippings on the lawn do not cause thatching, but excess thatch may slow down the decomposition significantly.
Thatch comprises runners, grass stems, and roots that create a barrier between the soil and growing grass.
Also, this barrier blocks grass clippings from reaching the soil when it is more than a half-inch thick. Even worse, it prevents soil microbes from breaking down the clippings.
On top of that, warm and wet conditions fasten the grass clippings decomposition process.
Hence, it would be best to water your yard frequently during the growing season. Please consider watering it deeply at least twice per week.
How Much Is Too Much Grass Clippings?
Please do not apply more than one or two inches of clippings at a time. Otherwise, they will be too much and hinder healthy grass growth.
Also, it would be best to use dry clippings as wet clippings mat down and reduce the moisture and oxygen getting into the soil.
Besides, limited oxygen leads to anaerobic decomposition of the grass clippings. Also, you may notice offensive odors. Therefore, consider the recommended rules to get the best result.
For instance, remove grass clippings from the gutter and curb, especially near storm drains. Also, remove clippings with disease signs such as leaf spot, dollar spot, or rust to reduce disease severity.
Cut the grass often to avoid removing more than one-third of the grass blade at a time. Then, rake heavy and wet clippings. Also, ensure that you use a sharp lawn mower blade that cuts, not tears, the grass.
Can You Seed a Lawn With Grass Clippings?
It is possible to seed a lawn with grass clippings. More so, they are a perfect alternative to mulch or staw. However, you will get a better outcome by spreading the grass clippings evenly and not too thickly.
So, bag the clippings before spreading the seed and allow them to dry. Otherwise, wet clippings may smother the grass beneath. Then, apply the clippings lightly along with the grass seed.
Grass clippings come in handy during seeding a lawn because they keep the seeds safe from elements. Also, germination can take a few days or weeks, and the soil needs enough moisture.
Besides, grass seed will not sprout without enough water. Worse still, the seed will eventually dry out if you do not have some sort of top-dressing or mulch.
Some of the most rampant questions on the subject are:
When Should You Trash Grass Clippings?
Although grass clippings are useful in a lawn, there are instances where it would be best to trash them. For example, trash clippings if the lawn has diseases like rust, brown spot, and fungus.
This way, you can remove the disease material and prevent the infection from spreading throughout the yard.
Besides, compost can harbor the infection when you use diseased grass clippings. And you are safer when you throw away or burn them. On the other hand, excess clippings are not beneficial either.
Please check whether the grass clippings are smothering the living plants or grass after spreading them evenly. Then, throw them away as yard waste if the clippings are too much. This way, you’ll keep a healthy lawn.
Is It Bad to Not Pick up Grass Clippings?
It is only okay to pick up grass clippings when they are in excess on the lawn. Generally, the clippings have valuable nutrients that fertilize the yard. Therefore, it would be best to leave them in the garden.
On top of that, remember that leaving the grass clippings on a lawn with healthy grass becomes an issue when they are too thick. Also, please avoid leaving the clippings when the grass is too high before mowing.
A wet lawn is not safe for grass clippings as they stick together, blocking healthy airflow. Hence, the new grass lacks enough oxygen for growth.
In addition, consider mowing the lawn before the grass is considerably tall. Otherwise, the mass of the clippings will not be enough for a thatch build-up.
Do Grass Clippings Help Bare Spots?
Yes. Grass clippings help bare spots (See our post on Will grass fill in bare spots on its own?). However, it would help avoid using too many clippings as they may damage the area and prevent plant or grass growth. You only need enough mulch to protect the plants and prevent excessive moisture evaporation.
Can Grass Grow From Clippings?
It is possible to grow grass from clippings. But you can only get a suitable outcome when you allow the grass to grow so long and produce its seed.
Then, ensure that the seed remains in the grass clippings and right conditions until they germinate.
Although you need to allow grass to overgrow to get seed, overgrown grass has an unkempt appearance. Unfortunately, this aspect might violate homeowner or city association regulations.
Do Grass Clippings Cause Weeds?
Grass clippings do not cause weeds. But they can aggravate the problem. The weeds seeds can spread when you mow a yard full of weeds. Thus, it is possible to see more weeds growing after mowing, regardless of whether you mulch or bag the clippings.
Should I Bag Grass Clippings If I Have Weeds?
It would be prudent to bag clippings when the lawn has weeds like ground ivy, crabgrass, and dandelions.
Or when the weeds have seed heads, collecting the grass clippings during mowing reduces the spread of these plants to other yard areas. Therefore, please bag the clippings for three to five mowing cycles before mulching.
It is also possible to control grassy and broadleaf weeds by keeping a thick lawn that chokes the lawn pests. However, clippings can re-root, especially if the yard has grassy weeds spread through stolon and rhizomes.
Worse still, common weeds such as couch grass and bermudagrass can spread when you leave their cutting on the lawn.
Therefore, bagging clippings would be the best measure for weed and lawn pests elimination. On top of that, avoid using grass clippings as mulch after treating the lawn with herbicides.
Moreover, these chemicals kill dandelions, clover, crabgrass, and creeping Charlie. So, eventually, you harm the turf grass instead of helping it to grow denser.
Besides, treated grass clippings lie thick on grass blades and limit oxygen supply. Therefore, please bag the clippings as a preventive strategy for turf destruction. Also, mow the grass to the correct height.
Short grass is weaker, and it is easier for weeds to overtake it. In addition, the grass opens bare spots where the weeds can reach the soil nutrients, germinate, and grow. Therefore, ensure that you consult on the best grass height to maintain during lawn maintenance.
Here’s more on how to deal with lawn weeds.
Do Clippings Increase Thatch?
No, clippings do not increase thatch in the garden. Instead, they mostly comprise water and are easily degradable compounds that decompose very quickly. Therefore, they do not accumulate.
Besides, thatch is a layer comprising undecomposed organic matter that builds up between actively growing green vegetation and the soil’s surface. Also, it develops when nature produces organic matter faster than facilitating decomposition.
On top of that, long grass clippings may have wiry stem material that breaks down slowly. However, they are still not significant contributors to thatch increase or build-up.
When Should You Mulch With Clippings?
You can mulch with grass clippings from late fall to early spring. Blend them into the soil to a depth of about eight inches. Also, add a ratio of two parts for carbon releasing materials like dry leaves, sawdust, and hay.
Can Grass Clippings Create Composite?
Yes, grass clippings can composite like any other nitrogen-rich materials and break down in a composite pile. But it would be best to pay attention to the clippings as they are mostly water. So, it is easy for them to be compact when you put them in the composite pile.
Also, please avoid stuffing them down as you add them to the pile. Otherwise, you’ll have a very thick layer that will not break down well. Even worse, the compound may produce a foul smell.
Fortunately, you can give the pile a turn every few days with the recommended tool. So, you will introduce air into the heap and thus speed up the composting process. Also, compost the clippings in thin layers using a two-to-one ratio with a brown material to keep a healthy lawn balance.
Are Compost Clippings Useful in the First Place?
Compost clippings are free and nitrogen-rich sources for your garden soil. Moreover, they are a natural and organic way to provide essential nutrients like phosphorous and potassium to your plants. Therefore, grass clippings are useful in your garden and lawn projects.
The presence of grass clippings does not harm the soil or its organisms. Instead, they fasten the composite decomposition process and are a perfect way to avoid spending money on hauling the clippings to a landfill.
What Happens to Grass Clippings Over Time?
Grass clippings eventually filter down to the soil and decompose. More so, they recycle plant nutrients, feed soil organisms, and contribute to the soil’s organic matter. Therefore, they are too valuable to go as yard waste or throw away.
However, it is better to avoid leaving grass clippings in a large pile. Otherwise, they may not decompose easily.
Should You Bag Grass Clippings in Summer?
It is okay to bag grass clippings during the early summer and spring months as the grass grows much faster. Also, the lawn has enough moisture for growing grass, and thus you do not need grass clippings.
Fortunately, bagging and disposing of grass clippings elsewhere has its benefits. For example, you can use them in the composite pile or as mulch for your garden. Also, it is okay to use clippings as livestock feed or a layer for your raised bed.
Besides, bagging removes nutrients from your lawn and takes up energy and time as you’ll have to find the most suitable place to dispose of the grass clippings. On top of that, it is much easier to allow the lawn mower to blend up the clippings with the soil.
Even so, grass grows a bit slower during the later summer months. Hence, bagging clippings is not necessary. In addition, it would be best to bag grass clippings when the lawn has signs of infection. This way, you’ll avoid spreading the disease throughout the yard.
Grass cycling is among the best lawn management practices. Grass clippings have essential nutrients needed for new grass growth.
In addition, they break down easily and are an affordable alternative to fertilizers. However, lawn mowers still ask: