Recycling grass clippings has always been a hot topic of conservation within the turf care industry.
Many people believe that using a bagged mower and removing the cut grass clippings saves later headache by helping to avoid thatch buildup and other problems.
However, recent research shows up that leaving grass clippings on the lawn is the easier and healthier method.
"Grasscycling" is simply a term used to describe the act of leaving your grass clippings on your lawn after mowing.
A scientific study was done in Texas to compare the differences in grasscycling and bagged mowing. The study found that grasscycling required one extra mowing per month, but this method also saved homeowners an average of seven hours of yard work per year.
Grasscycling is also superior to bagged mowing because it aids in soil fertility.
Leaving your grass clippings returns nitrogen and other valuable nutrients back to the soil.
The turfgrass ends up feeding itself some of its required nutrients.
Decomposition of grass clippings takes as little as one week. Depending on the type of turf and the fertility program, decomposing grass clippings can return as much as 20-percent of the needed nitrogen back into the soil.
A big argument against grasscycling has always been that it increases thatch, the thick layer of plant material that sits on top of the soil surface. That can be harmful to a lawn by increasing insect and disease pressure. However, research has shown that thatch is caused by grass stems, shoots and roots, not the fine leaf blades left after mowing.
To work correctly, grasscycling requires good mowing techniques.
You don't need a special mower. Some manufacturers do sell attachments that help chop clippings into small pieces. However, grasscycling can still be done without fancy attachments or special blades.
You can increase the efficiency of grass clippings by maintaining a sharp mower blade, only mowing when the grass is dry, mowing only one-third of the grass at a time and mowing the grass at the recommended height for your species.
For example, your tall fescue grass needs to be maintained at a 3-inch height, so mow when it gets 4-inches tall. If you let it get taller than this, you will be mowing more than is recommended at one time, which will stress out the fescue.
Proper grasscycling also requires timely fertilization. You need to know when and how much to fertilize your particular species of grass.
For example, Bermuda grass should be fertilized during its peak growth time, which is May - August. It is best to put out 1-pound of nitrogen per application.
If you were using a 16-4-8 fertilizer, which contains 16-percent nitrogen, then you would need 6 pounds (6 x .16 = almost one pound) per 1,000 square feet of lawn for each application.
Grasscycling can save you the hassle of having to unload your bagged mower and keeping a pile of clippings.
Scientific studies have shown that it promotes a healthier turf and can save time if proper turf management techniques are observed.
Consider these techniques for a healthier, more self-sustaining yard.