Here are 7 different ways to recycle grass clippings back into the lawn.
Cut grass to the proper height. Never cut your lawn too short. Studies show that taller grass is healthier grass. More of the leaf surface is exposed to the sun and the longer grass shades the soil, helping to slow evaporation. A rule of thumb: do NOT cut more than 1/3 of the grasses’ total length. Let your grass grow up to four inches or more (depending on the variety) before mowing. Set your mower at its highest setting then work down from there to achieve a three-inch cut, two inches or less for low growing varieties including bermudagrass.
Make sure mower blades are sharp. Dull blades tear rather than cut grass. This leads to obvious brown scars at the leaf tip and makes the grass more susceptible to disease.
Let grass clippings settle naturally onto the soil. It may take hours, or overnight, but the clippings left on top of your lawn will eventually settle to the soil where they’ll decompose. Longer clippings tend to ride more on top of the grass rather than settling. If you’ve waited too long to mow or have clippings that are a couple of inches long and bunch together, don’t pick them up. Break out the rake and spread them across your lawn.
Water thoroughly and infrequently. Encourage grass to grow deep, extensive root systems. When roots crowd the surface because of shallow watering, they can develop thatch. Make sure your lawn is dry before watering. When the grass turns pale green and doesn’t spring back under your footsteps, it’s time to water.
Amend the soil to keep the grass healthy. Grasscycling will return some nitrogen and lesser amounts of minerals and other nutrients to your soil and can reduce your fertilizer needs by 25%. A high-quality, organic lawn fertilizer high in nitrogen applied early in the season will keep your lawn thick and healthy. Spreading screened compost on your lawn both in the fall and spring can provide micronutrients your lawn needs as well as the beneficial soil microbes that will spread the decomposition of recycled grass.
Use a mulching mower. Mulch mowers trim cut grass to smaller, more readily munchable lengths. They’re also great for mulching leaves directly into your lawn come fall.
Reduce emissions and exercise with a reel mower. You can increase the environmental and health advantages of grass-cycling by using a push reel mower. With a reel mower, you’re burning calories, not gas and oil. Modern reel mowers are lightweight and easily maneuverable. Their spinning blades often do a better job clipping grass than gas-powered mowers which tend to tear and rip grass stems.