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Should You Bag or Mulch Grass Clippings?

Bagging vs Mulching when you cut the grass. Which is better?

The answer is that most of the time you should mulch the grass when you mow. 

However, there are cases when it is better bag the clippings. What are the facts and when should you bag vs mulch the clippings?

When should you mulch the clippings? Most of the time.

Fact # 1: Grass clippings put nutrients back in the grass. 

If mulched correctly, the clippings can provide your lawn with 25 percent of your lawn’s total nutritional needs for the year. To be specific, mulched up grass returns 4 percent nitrogen, 2 percent potassium and 1 percent phosphorus back into the lawn.  

We wrote an article on what those numbers mean.

The nutrients from the clippings put back into the lawn are the same whether you have a cool season grass like fescue, or a warm season grass like Bermuda, Zoysia, or St. Augustine.

Fact # 2: Nutrients are only returned if the grass is mulched correctly. 

Simply put, you don’t want to take off too much off the top at one time. You need the blades cut into small pieces so that they decompose easily (grass clippings are 85 % water).  A rule of thumb is that you want to take off the top 1/3 of the grass blade when you cut it. Anything more than that and you are likely to have large grass clippings or clumps of grass lying around. This leads us to fact # 3.

When Should you Bag the Clippings? If your Mower isn’t Mulching, but Clumping.

Fact #3: If your mower is clumping (because you are trying to cut too much at once), it is best to bag the lawn clippings. 

The grass clumps can do a lot of damage and disease by sitting in the lawn, rotting, and killing the live grass underneath it. This happens easily in the spring when the grass is growing really fast. 

You should be chopping the blades nicely into little pieces, not bogging down and leaving clumps of grass. So, either cut it more often or bag it.

We recommended a trick to keep the grass from getting too high too fast.

Other Fun Facts....

  1. On average, yard waste jumps from 20% to 50% of all solid waste materials at the dump through the months of March thru September, because of grass clippings.  
  2. It takes the average person 30 mins less time to mow a lawn that isn’t bagged. 
  3. There is actually a push in some states called “don’t bag it” that encourages people to mulch their lawns rather than bag.
  4. Grass clippings make great compost.

Conclusion. Bag or Mulch Lawn? It Depends.

So, while it is always best to mulch the grass in order to provide nutrients back into the lawn, there are times when the grass is growing so fast that you just can’t keep up (Here’s a trick to help keep up) and the clippings clump up.  When it clumps, you should bag it, to keep the lawn from dying in spots or getting diseased. 

If you don’t want to mess with your lawn and would like one our professionals to help you out, give us a call today at 866.228.5324 or click Lawn Mowing and let us know where you're at.