To Mulch or Not to Mulch?

Posted by on Apr 22, 2015 in Summer Tips | Comments Off on To Mulch or Not to Mulch?

 

What is mulch?

In the case of mulching lawn mowers, the mulch consists of grass clippings from the mowed grass. The clippings are cut into fine pieces that fall easily to the soil surface. There, they can be rapidly broken down by soil microorganisms, which release nutrients from the mulched plant material back into the soil.

  • Why should I mulch instead of bag?
    1.  Mulching enhances the health and growth of the turf by reducing evaporation of moisture from the lawn and keeping soil temperature cooler.
    2.  In addition, it has been estimated that mulched clippings, which are 85 percent water and five percent nitrogen, can provide up to 25 percent of fertilizer needs for an average lawn.
    3.   Mulching keeps grass clippings out of landfills. According to the EPA, yard trimmings make up approximately 13 percent (or 28 million tons) of the national waste stream. Grass clippings account for two thirds of all yard waste.
    4.  Mulching takes less time than bagging, because you don’t have to stop to empty the bag.
    5.  If you live in a municipality that charges extra fees to landfill yard waste, mulching will also save you money.

How do I avoid clumps?

Clumps are ugly, and when left on the surface of the grass and can damage the plant underneath. Mowing regularly and leaving fewer and smaller clippings is key as smaller clippings fall more rapidly to the soil surface and are less likely to clump. We suggest mowing with a sharp blade on a setting of 2 ½” to 3”.

Does mulching promote thatch?

Some people may be reluctant to mulch grass clippings because they do not want to promote the buildup of thatch.  Thatch is formed when the roots, stems, leaves and other parts of the grass build up faster than they decompose.  Mulching grass clippings does not contribute to the buildup of thatch; proper mowing, irrigation and proper fertilization, and in particular, avoiding over-fertilization, will help keep thatch accumulation down.