Grasscycling Your Lawn Can Save You Time (and Fertilizer)

It’s time to stop cleaning out your lawn mower’s grass catcher. Not only does it add time to your lawn mowing duties, but it may even be counterproductive to maintaining a healthy lawn. There’s even a fancy name for leaving grass clippings on the lawn: grasscycling.

Grasscycling is good for your lawn and the environment. Those clippings become a natural fertilizer source. Ninety percent of the clippings are actually made up of water, which helps keep the soil moist and encourages root growth. And, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), grasscycling is a big reason why yard trimmings now amount to only 17.9 percent of our landfills. That’s down from almost 23 percent in 1960. Grasscycling enables those clippings to biodegrade instead of rot in a landfill. Who knew that skipping a chore would be such a good thing?

The best part: grasscycling is a no brainer. Here’s all you need to know.

  • Low image of someone cutting lawn.

    Leave them be! Leaving your grass clippings on your lawn will not only save you time and money, but will benefit your lawn greatly acting as a natural fertilizer!

    Mow when the grass is dry. Dry glass blades stand up better and cut more cleanly. Wet grass clippings also clump together. And they won’t spread as evenly as dry clippings. Mowing on a wet lawn can also make thin ruts which can collect water.

  • Mow regularly. Cut off no more than one-third of the grass blade height to avoid root stunting. Shaving off only one-third also creates smaller clippings. That’s good for enabling their nutrients to filter down to the soil surface.
  • Use a sharp blade. Sharp blades cut clean, which helps the grass heal and regrow. Dull blades can bruise and weaken the grass, making it more susceptible to invading weeds and diseases.
  • Let the clippings lie. (We said this was easy, right?) It might look like your lawn needs a good raking after you’re done mowing, but the clippings will soon disappear between the standing grass blades.

As with anything else, grasscycling timing is key. Try to wait until your grass will stand about three inches tall after you mow. This will allow the clippings to spread and fall to the soil. This length will also help your grass grow thicker and heavier. And don’t worry about thatch problems; thatch is made when stems and roots mat just below the surface. It’s not made of grass clippings.

While they make grasscycling mowers, a standard discharge mower with a rotary or reel-type blade can be used without a problem. Many lawn mowers now come with a mulching attachment that works by circulating the grass inside the mower, where it gets chopped up before being dispersed into the grass.

The process is as easy as it gets. Not only will grasscycling save you time on cleaning out the grass catcher and raking, but you also won’t have to break out the fertilizer as often.