Grass Collection – Minimizing Waste Disposal

Grass Collection

Proper lawn maintenance requires regular use of a human-powered or self-propelled mower which produces a large volume of grass cuttings in need of disposal.

Disposal is often inconvenient, time-consuming and expensive. An alternative to disposal is to go natural and leave the cut grass in place on the lawn; this helps with promoting a healthy lawn and saves on labor.

Cut grass soon breaks-down after a regular mowing session which encourages the production of beneficial micro-organisms and earthworms that help to maintain the grass and soil in a healthy state. On-going cultivation (aeration) of the lawn is the best approach to take to avoid the on set on thatch (a spongy, brown type of material which consists of dead grass roots and stems).

In short

  • Leaving clippings behind results in a healthier lawn
  • Clippings soon break-down and encourage the beneficial growth of micro-organisms and the unsung hero of the garden earthworm
  • Grass clippings contain nutrients which are recycled into the lawn, and fertilize the soil for steady growth
  • Clippings left on the lawn also mean less waste disposal; saving a great deal of energy on hauling and bagging

Mowing the Lawn

Mowing a lawn is preferable at a grass length in the region of 2.5 to 3-inches, with the clippings then left on lawn. Overly long grass can course the clippings to mat which can smother the grass. To avoid this potential problem it might benefit to lower the blade height on a mower to its lowest setting at 1.5-inch or so – which is often ideal for the last mowing of the year before the winter down-time.

Mowing with a push mower, such as the reel lawn mower, means its necessary to mow quite frequently to ensure the grass is kept short and that no more than 1/3 of each glass blade is cut. In the spring / summer time when the grass grows rapidly, it might benefit to increase the regularity of mowing to once every five days or so. Benefits to keeping a lawn short include less stress on the grass, a healthier lawn, and smaller clippings left on the lawn.

Also, it is often seen that it takes significantly less-time to mow frequently and leave the small clipping on lawn where they dropped than to mow long grass every two or three weeks and rake and bag the clippings.

Mower Operation

A wide-range of human-powered and self-propelled mowers is available to maintain a lawn in pristine condition, with each mower offering its positive and negative points. If looking at the feasibility of leaving grass clippings behind, any of the push mower should be up to this task, provided the grass is cut before it gets too long.

Beyond the standard reel machines, a mulching mower chops grass clipping much smaller; often chopping the grass blades several times before falling onto the lawn. Reel or similar push mowers can have a bag or grass catcher attached if preferred. Mowing preference often comes down to size of lawn, mowing habits (frequency), and available finances.

Grass Boxes Optional

Most of the grass clipping bags or boxes is detachable, which means the choice is there to collect grass clippings as you go and build a compost heap or just leave the clipping to fall on the lawn to help with adding nutrients to the soil. Size of collection box often benefits when it comes to lawn mowers; the larger the box, the more held and the less trips to empty it. Certain mowers, such as the hover mowers, are able to compact quite an amount of clippings, which means even fewer trips to empty.

Leaving Clipping as Mulch or Compost

If grass clipping are too long to be left scattered across the lawn, it might well be wise to look at alternatives, such as the option to recycle via mulching or composting. Clippings, as mentioned, contain nutrients so a valued asset to a compost.

Clippings are also great to recycle as mulch for garden soil. Mulch is able to slow the growth of weeds, adjust soil temperature, and hold moisture. It helps with minimizing soil erosion by shielding the surface and gives excellent soil structure due to limiting the force of rain drops. If using grass clippings as a base for mulch, aim to keep layers less than two inches are this helps to avoid rot and the onset of a foul smell. Leave each lay to dry prior to adding a second or third coat.