So, your new lawn is looking green. It is growing well and you are enjoying running your lawn mower over it on warm a summers evening. But, is it best practice to leave your grass clippings after mowing, or collect them up? Some folk say leave them to mulch in a “feed” the lawn, others say no way, rake them up. So which is best?
Well, as with many topics of lawn care, the answer is more complicated. I would say the correct answer is both yes and no!
The advantages of leaving your grass clippings
The life cycle of most plants in nature requires recycling of nutrients. Plants draw up nutrients from the soil and, along with sunlight and water, use them to make their own food. This is how they grow new leaves, stems and flowers. When leaves of the plant die, a lot of these valuable nutrients rot back down into the soil. Here bacteria and fungi convert them back into soil nutrients. This is the basis of plant life on earth.
When mowing your lawn, you slice off valuable leaf material from each grass plant. If you leave these leaf slices on the lawn they will rot into the soil, transferring nutrients back to the plant. This will keep the lawn healthy.
The problems with leaving your grass clippings on the lawn
During the summer your grass can grow very fast. If you are unable to mow your lawn every couple of days then the amount of grass growth can become too much. Older, tougher leaves and stems take longer to rot down. This then does not decompose before the next mowing, and soon, thatch build-up can occur. A deep thatch level is not desirable for any lawn and you will encounter problems. Fungal diseases, poor root growth and moss ingress are all problems caused by deep thatch.
If your lawn has become very long, collecting the clippings becomes even more important as leaving it can kill the new grass leaves underneath.
The advantages of collecting your grass clippings after mowing
If you are not able to mow your lawn weekly or more, then your should collect your grass clippings. Not only will this keep your lawn looking neater, but it will also keep the thatch levels under control. If you do collect your grass clipping, be sure to feed your lawn with regular lawn treatments. This will top-up the nutrients lost by removing plant material and the lawn will stay lush and green.
Collecting your grass clippings will also reduce the spread of fungal diseases such as red thread. This is even more relevant if your grass is weak or contains species which are more prone to disease.
You can collect your grass clipping using the collection box of a good quality mower. This is much easier when the lawn is dry. Or your can run over the lawn and collect them with a rake or blower after mowing.
The lawn will also look much neater if you collect the grass clippings.
If you are able to mow your lawn twice a week then you will be safe to leave the grass clippings on the lawn. They will rot back into the soil in a few days and the lawn will be healthier. A lawn mower with a mulching blade will speed this up even more.
If you are not able to mow your lawn that often, then you will be better off collecting the lawn clippings. This will avoid thatch build up and bleached patches of grass.
Regular lawn treatments will then bring great benefits to the look of your lawn.