Should grass clippings be removed from the lawn: pros and cons

Upon the completion of mowing the lawn, grass cuttings, though unsightly, do not cause any significant harm to the area. The question that arises is whether to remove the clippings. This dilemma commonly confronts owners of sites, whether with untamed or cultivated vegetation. There is no straightforward answer, as the post-mowing residue not only detracts from the appearance of the area or lawn but also serves as a valuable fertilizer.

What happens if you leave grass clippings on the lawn?

Lawns and flowerbeds are sown to enhance the beauty of the area, and thus, their adherence to the site’s overall design is crucial. To achieve this, it is imperative that the grass blades are oriented in a vertical direction, except in cases where lawns are adorned with climbers or ornamental blossoms.

Whilst mowing the lawn, the top layer of vegetation separates from the bottom layer and cascades downwards, forming a contiguous layer where fragments are laid horizontally. If this cut vegetation is immediately removed, the soil may suffer depletion within two to three years, resulting in feeble and sickly grass that requires yearly replenishment through the use of organic and mineral fertilizers. In addition, during every fall and spring, the soil must be aerated since the decomposed vegetation, which would have enhanced soil structure and attracted worms, is eliminated, necessitating the manual restoration of soil structure.

Moreover, the clipped green mass acts as a mulch that can impede the growth of any plant beneath it. Consequently, only the most robust plants in the area can penetrate the mulch layer while others, deprived of access to sunlight, wither away quickly. If most of the planted grass dies, it provides a fertile breeding ground for weeds, whose seeds are carried over long distances by the wind. Furthermore, weed seeds can get onto the lawn via bird or small animal excrement or get tangled in their hair or feathers.

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Is it okay not to remove greenery from the plot?

Another concern weighing on the minds of dacha proprietors is whether it is imperative to expunge the cut grass from the plot, particularly if the area is not a lawn, i.e., not intended for aesthetic purposes.

In such a scenario, the altered direction of the mown or clipped grass, along with the vegetation adorning it, will not impede the functionality of the plot.

Moreover, a layer of the disentangled vegetation from the roots will act as mulch, hindering the growth of residual grass, which will soon wither away and, consequently, not consume essential nutrients and trace elements from the soil.

In just a few days after mowing, this mulch will commence decomposition, transmuting into a fine fertilizer that, upon permeating the soil, will enhance its structure and imbue it with the necessary substances for plant growth.

Is it possible to combine a beautiful appearance with the benefits of humus?

While clippings of grass may detract from the aesthetics of the landscaped space, they can serve as an annual fertilizer. However, the decomposition process must take place away from the lawn. Thus, all the clippings should be meticulously gathered and placed in compost pits or bins.

If the soil is excessively depleted and requires fertilization throughout the year, the collected material can be used to make liquid compost in a barrel, which can then be dispersed over the entire plot or lawn.

Alternatively, a way to combine the beauty of the lawn with the benefits of decomposed vegetation is to store all collected grass from spring to fall under conditions of minimal moisture. In mid-autumn, when the grass starts to wither, the area is mowed again, and all the accumulated vegetation is carefully shredded using one of the devices mentioned in our previous article about garden shredders for grass and leaves. This mass can then be used as mulch for the entire lawn, which should be watered and treated with bacterial preparations.

During the winter, the cut vegetation decomposes, losing its rigid structure, and in the spring, it partly mixes with the surface soil, promoting the growth of new grass.

In natural conditions, dead grass decomposes every year. Therefore, when the first sprouts of new vegetation emerge, the soil is infused with humus substances that serve as nutrients for plant roots. Additionally, gradually decomposing vegetation attracts earthworms, which help to loosen the soil and participate in the formation of humic substances.

Do I have to pick up vegetation after the trimmer?

The trimmer is characterized by its ability to not only mow grass, but also shred it into tiny fragments. As a result of this fine shredding, the chopped grass particles are smaller than normal and do not impede the growth of plants. Within a few days, the fresh grass will sprout through the layer of chopped green mass, and the lawn will return to its former glory. However, if you desire a perfectly pristine lawn at all times, the cuttings will need to be removed, even if it means sacrificing a bit of natural fertilizer.

How and with what?

To gather the trimmed or chopped vegetation, it is recommended to employ a specialized rake that can effectively gather such debris without inflicting harm to the soil or live grass. These rakes, with their specific design, are ideal for collecting horizontally dispersed matter. Vertically inclined elements of the vegetation, however, cannot be collected, but they are partially leveled, reducing the impact of mowing or clipping.

What can I do with my grass clippings?

Aside from being turned into compost, grass clippings may also serve other purposes, such as:

  • Providing mulch for gardens and vegetable patches;
  • Producing solid fuel (grass pellets) and gaseous fuel (biogas);
  • Manufacturing building materials;
  • Creating fabric and handicrafts;
  • Cultivating mushrooms;
  • Serving as bedding for pets and birds.

Moreover, the accumulated vegetation may be disposed of as household waste at a landfill or offered to neighbors who actively participate in agriculture, since grass compost is:

  • One of the finest fertilizers;
  • Used as bedding and feed for livestock.

Conclusion

During lawn maintenance, the cut grass spoils the lawn’s appearance, but it is a precious resource that can be utilized for creating fertilizer and various useful products, including certain fuels. Hence, the question of whether to remove the grass cuttings from the lawn necessitates pondering over the methods of disposal, since the gathered material needs to be deposited somewhere, and it is not always feasible to repurpose it. Therefore, there is no definitive answer that applies universally to every lawn or ornamental garden, as much relies on the specific circumstances of the location.

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