How to use grass clippings on your lawn

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An old landscaping myth says that leaving grass clippings on your lawn will smother the...

An old landscaping myth says that leaving grass clippings on your lawn will smother the living grass and cause thatch to accumulate. Landscapers these days know better and now understand that leftover clippings actually promote a healthy lawn by reducing the need for fertilization and restoring nutrients in the soil.

The following are five tips to keep in mind if you want to get the most benefits from recycling your clippings after you mow your lawn:

Keep mower blades sharp

Make sure your lawn mower blades are kept sharp and that you only mow when the grass is completely dry. Dull blades or a wet lawn can result in shredded grass, leaving it vulnerable to disease. If your mower's blades no longer sharpen well, take the mower to a professional to have them replaced.

Aerate your lawn

To increase the rate of decomposition in clippings, you should start aerating your lawn. This technique allows soil to breathe as well as improves the movement of water, which enhances root growth.

Leave the clippings where they fall

Many people want to rake their lawn after mowing if they don't use a clippings catcher. However, there is no need because short clippings fall fairly quickly between live blades, vanishing from sight and beginning to decompose almost immediately.

Cut back on fertilizer

Clippings are a rich source of nutrients, including nitrogen, so you don't need to apply nearly as much fertilizer to keep your lawn looking good. Experts say you can reduce your annual nitrogen applications by as much as one-fourth when you leave clippings to decompose.

Mow often

Mow your lawn often enough so that your clippings are 1 inch long or less. Shorter clippings fall more easily between live grass blades, allowing them to break down faster. To ensure clippings are short, you will need to mow your lawn every week or every other week.

In addition to contributing to a healthier lawn, you can rest assured that your efforts will help cut down on waste in your community. For expert advice on caring for your lawn, contact an Atlanta-area professional landscaper.

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