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3 Reasons Not to Bag Your Lawn Clippings.

The article on this page is original, but has been published in other places on the Internet

Lawn clippings, lawn mowing, healthy lawns, bagging clippings.

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Pests love cover. They love to hide in a nice layer of thatch in your lawn, and develop communities. Knowing this has led many to bag lawn clippings. Hold on there! There is a much better way, and it is much more ecologically sound, and much better for your lawn!

To bag, or not to bag, that is the question.

Most cities and states now have programs to encourage people not to bag their lawn clippings. This is done to slow the flow of spring and summer lawn refuse going into landfills. There are three good reasons not to bag your lawn clippings listed bellow, so read them, and do yourself, your lawn, and the environment a favor, and put that bagger away!

1. Unless you compost clippings, they are just landfill! No one wants to add more than necessary to our landfills, but there are other reasons for not bagging, that are of practical use to the homeowner.

2. Your lawn needs organic matter. Lawns need organic matter for rebuilding the soil, and the clippings help provide it.

3. Your lawn needs those clippings for nutrients. It needs nutrients for rebuilding the grass. When you leave the clippings on your lawn you provide both. In a years time, your lawn produces enough nutrients to equal several applications of fertilizer. Removing the clippings, robs your lawn of these nutrients, gradually weakening it, requiring you to buy and apply more fertilizer.

It has been demonstrated that removing lawn clippings removes as much as 60% of the fertilizer you apply on a yearly basis. If you have a fairly large lawn, the savings could be substantial.

The arguments for bagging, and why they are wrong.

1. "My lawn builds a lot of thatch if I don't bag."

True, you can have a thatch problem, but that is really a symptom of another problem. Thatch is usually a sign that something isn't working right.

A. The lawn is not breaking the thatch down through microbial activity as it should, which is either because the lawn has very little microbial activity, probably because it is not being fed enough material due to previous bagging.


B. There is too much growth between cuttings. This can be a result of over fertilization and irrigation, or too much time between cuttings.

The clippings need to be kept short in order to be broken down and reused by the soil. The smaller the better. If you are mowing once every two weeks, that will not be enough. In this case, you don't need a bagger, you need a hay rake!

If you have a thatch problem, you should aerify, or dethatch your lawn, and start over by mowing more often, and leaving the clippings to degrade.

2. "I need to bag, to pick up the weed seed."

A. First of all, your bagger will not pick up all the weed seeds.

B. If weeds are going to seed in your lawn, it should be mowed more frequently.

In general, the more often you mow, the better the quality of the lawn. This works because the nutrients are broken down more quickly, and are available for the grass to recycle. It also helps because more frequent mowing causes the grass to grow laterally, and keeps weeds from growing to maturity and producing seed.

Leaving your clippings on your lawn, reduces the amount of waste going into landfills, adds nutrients and organic matter to your law, can help save money on fertilizer, and promotes a healthier lawn, and healthy lawns not only look great, but they ward off weeds, insects, fungus and disease. It just makes good sense! 

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