Clippings — And What To Do With Them

To remove or to leave? That is the question many lawn owners want to know. Actually, there are advantages and disadvantages to both, depending on your grass type and maintenance commitment.

If you prefer to leave clippings, it’s best to invest in a mulching or composting mower, which chops them finely and blows them back into the lawn, helping them sift and dry faster.

Finely cut clippings don’t create thatch, and actually can return nutrients and beneficial properties to your lawn, as they contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium — just like fertilizer. In fact, clippings can provide one-third of the yearly nitrogen requirement for your lawn. Plus, leaving clippings flat-out saves time.

Removing clippings

There are times when removing clippings makes the most sense:

  • For aesthetic reasons on short grass, like bermudagrass and fine bentgrass.
  • If you do not mow frequently, longer grass clippings will mat and block light from your lawn.
  • If you mow when grass is wet, clippings will clump and block light.

If you do remove clippings, they make an excellent compost or mulch in a vegetable garden. Just be sure to remove any weeds, because their seeds can germinate and wreak havoc in the garden. Also, don’t use clippings treated with broadleaf herbicides as a garden mulch.

Remove them with a bamboo, plastic or steel-tine lawn rake after mowing. Or, easier yet, purchase a catch bag for your lawn mower.