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Mulching with lawn clippings, a good idea?

Lawn trimmings mulch

Lawn trimmings are definitely among the most common types of garden waste. Use grass clippings to mulch flower and vegetable beds! Just don’t layer it too thick…

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Lawn grass, a high-value mulch material

Grass trimmings used for mulch in a veggie patchThough it’s only made from usually a single type of plant, lawn grass nonetheless contains a host of useful nutrients.

  • Nitrogen is by far the most present one. It helps plants produce leaves and increases photosynthesis.
  • Potassium is crucial for the more delicate plant functions: blooming, fruit set for instance.
  • Phosphorus is an element that plays a role in the plant’s immune system, fighting off disease.

On top of this, lawn grass has a few other benefits over other organic mulch materials! Indeed, it’s the ultimate local resource, so no energy to expend transporting it. It only costs a little effort to collect (meaning you still have to mow the lawn) and it’s already cut to size by the mower, so no need for shredding or chipping machines.

Using lawn clippings for mulch

Mulch is one of the best ways to maximize all the great organic matter that cut lawn grass represents.

First of all, always try to add the first few load or two of the mower to your composter. The extra “brown matter” grass clippings represent will help the compost digest kitchen scraps and the like faster.

After that, spread it atop the soil in your flower and shrub beds, and, of course, in the vegetable patch.

  • A layer at the very most a half-inch thick (2 cm) will break down and release nitrogen into the soil.
  • This plant mulch will stop and hinder weed growth.
  • Lawn trimmings also help lock moisture in the soil beneath it: you can water only every two or three days instead of doing it daily.

Topdressing, another way to use lawn clippings in the garden

Mulching is indeed nature’s own way of transforming garden waste into healthy organic nutrients, and this works for the lawn itself, too. A thin layer of chopped up lawn grass will quickly break down and, in doing so, converts decaying matter into nutritious elements lawn grass needs to grow lush and dense.

Mulching with lawn clippings

Watch out, though: if you plan on exclusively using the “mulch” position of your lawn mower to deal with lawn trimmings, you’ll have to mow the lawn at least twice a week. Mowing more than a half-inch of grass at a time is going to smother the grass growing beneath.

In the end, variety is the way to go: apply each of these methods in turn. From time to time, use the hamper to lug grass clippings to the compost, and then the next mowing session, mulch to leave shredded clippings on the lawn itself.

Images: CC BY 2.0: woodleywonderworks

Written by Gaspard Lorthiois | Loves helping out, especially when it comes to growing things. Worked in herbal medicine, runs a farm, and dabbles in tech. Master's degree and engineer.
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