- Grasscycling: “Don’t Bag It!”*

Grasscycling means leaving grass clippings on the lawn to decompose into soil. Most of the moisture and nutrients in grass are in the top half of the blade – why not recycle them? Grasscycling provides about 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn per year, along with a perfect balance of essential micronutrients that aren’t included in most chemical fertilizers. Some people find that grasscycling completely eliminates the need for synthetic lawn fertilizers. Parks and golf courses have been grasscycling for years!

Basics

  •   Mow grass at the proper height and disperse the grass clippings down to the soil.
  •   Water grass only as needed – about 1 inch of water once a week.
  •   Fertilize grass with slow-release fertilizers as needed to correct deficiencies.

Grasscycling Benefits

  •   makes turf greener and tougher
  •   prevents common turf diseases
  •   reduces lawn fertilizer requirements
  •   does not cause thatch, in fact it helps to prevent it
  •   reduces total time spent mowing and maintaining your lawn
  •   cuts down on watering needs and costs
  •  eliminates disposal of grass clippings (and sometimes leaves too)

Grasscycling Guidelines: Mowing

The key to grasscycling is to mow at the proper height (see Figure 1) and disperse the small grass clippings evenly so they sift down to ground level.

Mowing grass too short causes stress, discourages deep root growth, and results in rapid loss of soil moisture. Letting grass grow too tall between mowings causes excess grass clippings that smother the turf and take a long time to break down.

You do not need a special mulching mower. However, grasscycling results may be improved by using a mulching mower, by replacing a standard mower blade with a mulching blade, or by covering a mower’s discharge opening

Grasscycling Tips

  •   Raise the mowing height during the hot and dry season. A higher setting reduces moisture loss and encourages deep root growth.
  •   Mow often enough that each mowing removes no more than one-third of the grass blade; for example, if you set your cutting height at 2 inches, then cut before the grass is more than 3 inches tall.
  •   Keep mower blades sharp and clean, and mow when the grass is dry.
  •   Mow over leaves so they will decompose along with grass clippings.
  •   Collect leaves and grass clippings for mulching or composting when they are too heavy or too wet for grasscycling.

Figure 1. Recommended Mowing Heights

Type of grassCut when height reachesSet cutting height at
Centipede 1-1/2 to 2 inches 1 to 1-1/2 inches
Common Bermuda 1-1/2 to 3 inches 1 to 2 inches
Hybrid Bermuda 3/4 to 2-1/4 inches 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches
Tall Fescue 3 to 4-1/2 inches 2 to 3 inches
St. Augustine 3 to 4-1/2 inches 2 to 3 inches
Zoysia 3/4 to 2-1/4 inches 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches

For additional information

Aggie Turf – Mowing