Should I Pick Up Lawn Clippings?

There is a continuing debate about whether it is better to pick up grass clippings or let them remain on the lawn. The biggest advantage to letting clippings fall between the grass blades is that they add nutrients to the soil. In a year’s time, lawn clippings will add enough nutrients to be the equivalent of a full fertilization. However, if the grass is not mowed frequently, blades are long and may accumulate on top. If the grass is wet when mowed, clippings may clump together. Mulching lawn mowers do a better job of chopping clippings into fine pieces so they filter through the blades easier. Another advantage of leaving clippings is the time saved in emptying the clipping bag and disposing of them.

The biggest reason to pick up clippings is that they can be tracked into the house. However, no lawn mower is 100% efficient in throwing clippings into the bag. The 10 to 30% of clippings left on the lawn can still be tracked in.

If you do pick up clippings, use them as much as possible for compost or mulch. They can be applied almost everywhere you would use bark or other mulch. Clippings dry to a light tan color, and are not as attractive as dark brown bark. However, they are great around vegetables, fruit trees and berries. They break down into humus more quickly than bark and add nutrients to the soil.

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