Mulch your grass clippings – don’t bag them

Mulch your grass clippings – don’t bag them

By Bob Dailey

Green lawns are attractive. Keeping them attractive is not much of a problem if you follow a few simple rules.

A&M Research

The Don’t Bag It program was developed by the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension back in the late 1980s and proved conclusively that collecting clippings was a waste of time and landfill space. There are, however, more reasons to mulch instead of bagging grass clippings.

Nutrients

The tops of grass blades contain high amounts of nitrogen – an important nutrient for grass. Leaving grass clippings on the ground instead of bagging them adds this nitrogen back into the soil. That process lessens the lawns need for extra fertilizer. This process won’t meet the full requirements of fertilization, but it will significantly reduce the amount of fertilizer you need.

Slice and dice

Mulching mowers slice and dice the grass into tiny pieces that fall into the lawn and decompose quickly. They also help conserve soil moisture while they’re decomposing (thus the name “mulch”). Plus, mulching helps the lawn survive drought stress by helping the soil retain water.

Thatch

Contrary to what some people say, thatch is not a problem for most lawns in The Woodlands (or elsewhere along the upper Gulf Coast. In fact, it is almost impossible for thatch to develop in St. Augustine and Bermuda grasses.

Shade

A common problem with all types of lawn grasses in The Woodlands. Increase the mowing height. That increases the surface areas of the grass blades, so they can receive more sunlight. Remember that grass, like any other plant, needs sunlight to produce food, so allowing the blades to grow taller in the shade enables them to gather in more sunlight.

Root systems

The mowing height has a direct effect on root systems. Set your mower height at the highest level to maintain at least 3 inches of grass. Deep grass roots promote a healthier lawn. Healthy turf can resist disease, insect damage and stress.