Leaving your grass clippings is an easy way to recycle the nutrients back into your lawn, it’s like free fertilizer! To maintain a healthy lawn, you need to feed it regularly; your grass clippings contain the same beneficial nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium as fertilizer does. What’s great is, the clippings can provide as much as a third of the yearly feeding requirements for the lawn. So, no more hauling your clippings to the street.

Thatch myth. Thatch is loose, intermingled organic layer of dead and living shoots, stems, and roots that develops between the grass and the soil surface, if too much exists it can be detrimental to the lawn. However, leaving your clippings does not cause thatch, as some may have you believe. Because clippings are mostly water, they will breakdown and disappear quickly. Just remember to mow regularly and at the appropriate height.

Things to keep in mind. Don’t let your grass grow more than 4 1/2 inches tall before mowing it. Always keep your mower blade sharp, mow regularly at the recommended cutting height for your type of grass and avoid mowing the lawn when the grass is wet. If you don’t mow regularly and the grass gets longer than the normal cutting height, it will remove more than a third the length of the grass blades, therefore, you should raise the height on the lawn mower. Then mow first at the raised cutting height, then again in a different direction at the normal height. Try to avoid a surge in growth by using a slow-release fertilizer.

When you should bag. If your grass is extremely overgrown, or worse, you see signs of lawn disease, then bagging would be the better option. For lawn disease, pick up the clippings to avoid spreading the fungus. For the extremely overgrown lawn, it’s still better to remove only a third of the grass height per mowing session, thereby gradually reducing the grass to the appropriate height. Then rake up the excessively long clippings and bag them so that they don’t mat on the surface of your lawn. If you have a compost pile you can add them to the pile, unless you recently applied a weed control product to the lawn.

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