Should You Mulch Or Bag Your Grass Clippings?

Should You Mulch Or Bag Your Grass Clippings?

To mulch or to bag? What should you do to those grass clippings after mowing the lawn?

This common quandary stirs up a fair bit of discussion as each approach carries its own unique set of merits and demerits.

  • Mulching involves leaving the cut grass clippings on the lawn to decompose over time.
  • On the other hand, bagging – as the name implies – consists of collecting the grass clippings as you mow over the lawn. These clippings can then be disposed of or used in compost.

Mulching is the more eco-friendly option, benefits the health of your lawn, and requires less effort. Though it does come with some drawbacks too.

So which one should you do, and is mulching the better option? Let’s compare.

Why It’s Worth Mulching

Mulching is a great option for lawns because it doesn’t require any additional work. As you mow, the grass clippings will be left on the lawn.

The grass clippings decompose over time, adding nutrients to your soil and thereby improving soil health. Grass clippings also act as a natural weed barrier as well.

A regular mower will do the job of mulching. You can simply remove the bag catcher. You can also transform your lawn mower into a mulch mower, or buy a new one entirely. Using a mulch mower will cut the grass into very fine lengths, helping them decompose quicker.

The Downsides of Mulch Mowing

One of the drawbacks of mulch mowing is that it leaves a layer of freshly cut grass on your lawn, making it look less tidy.

If the grass is cut too thick, it will likely take very long to break down and may become what is known as ‘thatch’. This thick layer of grass essentially suffocates what is beneath it (i.e. live grass) because it prevents or limits the flow of oxygen and nutrients.

Whilst mulch mowing can prevent weed germination by creating a literal barrier against weed germination, it may also conversely spread existing weeds around your lawn.

Mowing over the weeds in your lawn can cause their spores to spread around. Our advice? Be sure to remove existing weeds before mulch mowing!

One other downside is that mulching takes more time and will do more damage to your mower. This is especially true if you are using a mulch mower. To cut the grass so fine and small, a mulch mower’s blades must firstly be sharp and secondly take multiple rotations to shorten the grass.

This all leads to blades that dull quicker and a mower engine that is pushed harder and so somewhat more likely to fail.

Is Bagging A Good Alternative?

Is Bagging A Good Alternative?

A bagging mower will collect all the grass clippings, allowing you to dispose of them more easily or use them later on.

Of course, one of the biggest draws to bagging is the result – a neat and tidy-looking lawn. You won’t have any clumps of grass clippings left around.

Another advantage is that nasty flora like lawn fungus or weed spores won’t be spread around to other parts of your lawn.

Bagging your grass clippings also reduces the risk of an allergic reaction to grass pollens. With mulching, you are returning the grass pollens back to your lawn, whilst with bagging, you are removing them. This makes bagging a great option for those who suffer allergies like hay fever.

Additionally, some bagging mowers feature a mulching option so you can switch between the two methods as needed.

The Disadvantages of Bagging

Bagging is in many ways more labor-intensive than mulching. You have to empty the bag, and you will need a large enough area to store clippings until they can be disposed of properly.

Although some mowers come with larger collection bags for convenience, there comes a point where it makes sense to just invest in a wheelbarrow or other garden cart.

Bagging also takes more time and will generally require you to mow more frequently. This is because the clippings can fill up the bag quickly, leading to a slower mowing speed and a shorter cutting height.

Summing Up

Here is a summary table comparing all we have talked about:

Benefits• No additional work
• Get the benefits of mulch including weed supression, soil health and moisture retention
• Can use a regular mower
• Eco friendly
• Neat and tidy lawn
• Prevents spreading of weeds and fungus
• Some mowers have a mulching option
• Collected grass can be used in compost
• Reduce risk of grass allergy
Downsides• Less tidy appearance
• Can create ‘thatch’ which can suffocate grass
• May spread existing weeds
• More wear and tear on mower
• More labor-intensive
• Need for storage area
• More frequent mowing required
• Slower mowing speed

Mulching and bagging both have their advantages, so it really comes down to your specific lawn needs. If you need a neat and tidy finish or are dealing with pests, then bagging may be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you want to save time and money while still maintaining a healthy lawn, mulching your grass clippings is the best way to go.


Do I Need A Mulch Mower To Mulch The Grass?

No, you don’t need a mulching mower to mulch the grass. A normal lawn mower can do the job but you may have to go back and forth over the cut grass to continue cutting it to the desired length.

Remember, that the smaller the grass clippings the easier it will be to be used as effective mulch. Grass clippings that are too large may become thatch and be detrimental to your lawn.

Do Bagging Mowers Work On Wet Grass?

Technically, bagging mowers do work on wet grass, but they will not work as effectively. Wet grass tends to clump up and stick together, making it difficult for the mower to draw up in the collection bag. It may even clog the mower.

In addition, wet grass will also reduce the ability of the blades to cut properly due to sticking together. This can result in a poor-quality cut that leaves your lawn looking uneven or patchy.

To add to this, mulching wet grass isn’t the best either. Case

For best results, wait until the grass is dry before mowing.

Do I Need A Special Disposal Option For Grass Clippings?

If you have an especially large yard, you may need a special disposal option for grass clippings if they take up too much space in your yard’s waste bin or compost pile.

In this case, you can consider renting a dumpster or hauling away the clippings yourself with a trailer. Alternatively, many cities now have drop-off sites for grass clippings and other organic materials that you can use to dispose of them safely and conveniently.

You could also look into having a service to come pick up your lawn clippings regularly.

Regardless of which option you choose, be sure to check local ordinances to ensure it is allowed in your area.

Can Grass Clippings Be Used In Compost?

Can Grass Clippings Be Used In Compost?

Yes, grass clippings can be used in compost and even make up a large percentage of many compost recipes.

However, it is important to note that you should never add too much grass at one time as this could create an imbalance of nitrogen and carbon which can slow down the decomposition process.

Additionally, some composters recommend shredding or chopping the clippings before adding them to your pile so they break down faster.

Finally, avoid putting any chemically treated grass into your compost as this can damage beneficial organisms and harm your plants.

What Other Uses Are There For Grass Clippings?

Aside from composting, there are a myriad of other uses for grass clippings.

They can be used as mulch in garden beds to reduce moisture loss and deter weeds, added to soil as a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, or simply raked up and disposed of.

Some people also use them to create outdoor art pieces or make their paper.

Grass clippings can also make for an excellent addition to livestock feed as they provide a great source of protein and fiber (when they become silage). Regardless of how you choose to use them, grass clippings can be an invaluable resource if properly utilized!

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