While some homeowners believe that mulching can contribute to thatch build-up and decide to compost or throw out their grass clippings after each mow, the truth is that there are a lot of benefits to mulching that they might be overlooking.
Once you’re done reading this article, you’ll be motivated to stop raking, bagging and throwing out your grass clippings and start returning them back into your lawn starting with your new mowing session.
If you’re not sure if mulching leaves or grass clippings is good for your lawn, stick with us as we go over some of the main benefits you can get by mulching and how they can help improve your lawn. That way you can decide for yourself is mulching is the way to go in your particular situation.
Mulching offers a ton of benefits for your lawn. It saves you time, money and labour and improves your lawn’s growth. Here are some of the main ways it can improve your lawn and benefit you and your budget at the same time, so you can see why you should start mulching right away.
Before we begin discussing the many ways in which mulching can improve your lawn, let’s go over the basics of what mulching is and how it works.
Mulch consists of grass clippings (sometimes leaves) that are cut into small pieces that get down to the surface of the soil where soil microorganisms can break them down to all the nutrients and micronutrients they have and release them back into the soil. This allows your lawn to reuse those nutrients to grow stronger and thicker.
Let’s see what some of the main benefits of mulching include:
The main reason why you should mulch your grass clipping is because they act as a natural fertiliser, releasing all the nutrients from the grass blades back into the soil so they can be used once again.
By cutting and bagging all those grass clippings, you are throwing out a lot of essential nutrients needed for the grass to grow. These include nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and other micro-nutrients which support the growth of your grass and help it stay healthy.
If you feed your lawn with the right nutrients, it will be able to support optimal photosynthesis which will help it grow thicker, greener and stronger. This will allow it to resist all kinds of diseases and pests, keeping it strong and healthy throughout the year. While this can be achieved by regular and frequent fertilisation, mulching is an additional practice that you can use to create a beautiful, thick turf.
Mulching grass clippings has another surprising benefit. Since the process releases nutrients back into the soil, it allows you to cut down on fertilisation costs so you can get the maximum growth without any waste of fertiliser and money. Additionally, a collection kit for grass clippings is more expensive than a mulching kit, which is yet another way to save some money in the process. And since time is money as well, you can save a lot by not having to worry about raking grass clippings, as well as collecting and disposing of them properly, which can be labour-some and time-consuming.
By returning the grass clippings back to your lawn, you are allowing them to decompose naturally in your yard as opposed to bagging them in plastic bags and filling up the landfills. So if you’re looking for ways to go green, this is definitely a method you should adapt.
Some of the additional benefits of mulching include:
weed control and less frequent need for weeding (if you suspect that your garden or flower beds are filled with weed seeds go with the double mulching technique to reduce or eliminate weed growth
stabilizing and controlling the soil temperature
moisture retention (make sure you don't use too much garden mulch as that can lead to a lot of moisture getting trapped and causing plant roots to rot)
If you've decided that you're going to start using this technique to improve the health and look of your lawn, here's what you'll need to consider:
The ideal time to mulch your lawn, flower beds, garden beds and fruit trees is during spring and summer. This allows you to use fresh grass clippings without worrying about them not decomposing and forming dead patches on your lawn. That's why it's not recommended to mulch during autumn and winter when it's cold and rainy and the grass clippings or other types of mulch can't decompose properly and provide your lawn or garden with the essential nutrients they need.
While grass clippings are the main type of mulch used, there are other options you can go with so you can make the most out of your garden and improve the health of your lawn, vegetable garden, flowers, plants and so on.
Some of the main options you can go with include using leaves, wood chips, pine needles, sawdust, composting materials and other organic mulches. In addition to organic materials, you can also use inorganic mulch which you can buy in any home centre so you can cut down on your budget and not go through the hassle of making your own mulch. You can find almost all of these different types of mulch at local home centres, just make sure to read their labels or ask for assistance so you can make the right choice for your garden.
The main mulching equipment you'll need if you decide to mulch your leaves and grass clippings is a mulching lawnmower or a mower that has mulching as one of its features. You can also go with a mower that offers grass collection as well as mulching, which will fit all your mowing needs.
Not all mowers are suitable for mulching. Before you decide to start mulching, you need to check if your mower is a mulching mower or if it has a mulching setting.
Make sure your mower is powerful enough for the type of grass that you have. If you have an underpowered mower instead of getting all the grass clippings cut and recut into smaller pieces, they are just going to tear and fall right back down leading to an uneven cut and causing grass clipping clumps to form.
You should always set your mower to a higher setting, making sure you don’t remove more than one-third of the grass blades’ length in a single mowing session. This practice helps improve the health of the grass, providing a cleaner cut and producing less mulch so it can break down properly and not build-up a layer of thatch.
If you’re already practising this technique and you believe it is contributing to a lot of thatch build-up, the main reasons why this might be happening, aside from the power of your mower, is the fact that you might either be cutting your grass too low or you’re not mowing it frequently enough. What this does is it creates clumps of grass clippings or larger pieces of grass that aren’t breaking down properly, making it easier for thatch to form.