(MS) - While it might have been a chore most would have liked to avoid when they were kids or teenagers, for adult lawncare enthusiasts, mowing the lawn can be an enjoyable time. Whether you're a fan of ride-on lawn mowers or you go with the more traditional push mower, an afternoon spent mowing the lawn can be good exercise and a way to catch a few rays.
Of course, once the job is done, what to do with the grass clippings can present a genuine problem. Some states, in fact, have banned yard waste such as clippings, branches and leaves from their landfills. For local governments, this decision was largely rooted in budgetary concerns, as many communities facing cutbacks decided that yard waste collection was something they could live without, and therefore cut these programs out of their budgets.
While this might have left many residents unhappy with their local governments, yard waste is actually a valuable commodity, one that can help homeowners save money if used correctly.
How Do Clippings Benefit a Yard?
When returned to the yard, grass clippings can pay numerous dividends. First and foremost, grass clippings can help homeowners save money on fertilizer. Clippings contain valuable levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, and can help cut fertilizer needs by up to 25 percent.
In addition, clippings work as a food source for bacteria in the soil. One of the things bacteria does is decompose harmful and unsightly thatch, improving the lawn's health and increasing its aesthetic appeal.
How Much Should I Leave?
If you're going to be returning clippings to your yard, you'll need to make adjustments to your mower and your mowing schedule. While some homeowners would like to set their blades as low as possible to reduce the number of times they'll have to mow the lawn, this is not healthy for your yard. Mow grass tall with a sharp blade so that no more than one inch of grass is removed each time the lawn is cut. If you set the blades too low, clippings will pile up and this will damage the yard. Also, cutting grass too low does not encourage root growth and promotes inefficient use of water. When grass is cut at the correct height, roots grow more extensively, which helps make the yard more resistant to drought.
During rapid growth, you might need to mow twice per week. While this might sound like a chore, it won't be as hard as it sounds. That's because if a lawn is mowed properly at the correct height, the job gets easier and doesn't take much time at all. As the lawn begins to grow less rapidly, you can return to the typical cutting schedule.
How Does a Mulching Mower Help?
Mulching mowers can be of tremendous assistance to anyone looking to get more out of their clippings. A mulching mower works by cutting clippings into smaller pieces and dispersing them back into the yard as you're cutting the lawn. Keeping the blades at a correct height is essential when using a mulching mower. When its blades are set correctly, a mulching mower will distribute clippings more evenly than a standard mower, essentially eliminating the risk of spreading too many clippings onto any one spot and damaging the lawn as a result.
Can Clippings Be Used Elsewhere?
Clippings can be used as mulch and in a compost pile. When using clippings for either process, however, be sure to mix in other ingredients. Grass clippings, when they're not spread out over a lawn but collected in a pile, will produce a very foul odor. However, when mixed with leaves or wood chips, the odor will dissipate. Also, by mixing with wood chips and leaves, you're reducing the thickness of the clippings, which will allow more oxygen to get into the soil.
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