Grasscycling: The what, the how and the why

Has your municipality banned grass clippings from curbside yard waste collection programs? There has been a move in recent years to grasscycling to reduce emissions caused by cut grass in landfills.

Is grasscycling for you? If you cut your lawn, then this could be the time to start.

What is grasscycling?

Quite simply, grasscycling is leaving your grass where it is after cutting it. Freshly cut grass left in place does three good things for your lawn.

  1. Your lawn will look better when you leave the grass clippings where they are after mowing, as they will provide moisture and nourishment. As the clippings gradually sink into the soil, you will begin to see a more lush and healthier looking lawn.
  2. Grasscycling conserves water by reducing the need to water as often. The cut blades of grass will prevent evaporation so your lawn has less chance of drying out. This will also help reduce your water bill.
  3. A big plus for your lawn and the environment is the natural addition of key nutrients − nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus − that feed your lawn. Plus, you won’t need to apply fertilizer as often.

Grasscycling can help reduce your carbon footprint. Landfills are becoming overrun with green waste, which leads to the production of methane gas, a huge culprit in climate change. Ideally, green waste should be composted. Leaving your grass cuttings in place is the most efficient way to do this. A bonus of grasscycling is the time you’ll save not having to empty the mower bag or rake up after so you can enjoy other outdoor activities.

Tips for the best grasscycling results

  • Start by making sure your lawn mower’s blades are sharp so you get a clean cut with less chance of tearing, scarring and disease.
  • Be sure to cut your lawn when it is dry and avoid mowing during a drought or exceptionally damp conditions. If your grass was a bit too long, then rake the clippings over the lawn evenly for best mulching.
  • It may be counterintuitive but you’ll have a much healthier lawn if you don’t cut it too short. Never cut more than a third of the length and try to keep your grass between 2.5” to 3” long. This way, more of the grass leaf surface will be exposed to the sun and the longer grass will help to shade the soil and slow the evaporation process.
  • A great helper is a mulch mower that not only trims the cut grass to shorter lengths but can also be used in the fall to mulch leaves, creating even more nutrition for your lawn.
  • A push mower or reel mower will make a big difference for the environment and for you – they are affordable options that give you more exercise, plus they are quiet and won’t pollute the air like gas and oil-powered lawn mowers.

A word on watering

It’s best to give your lawn a thorough watering less often to make sure the roots grow deeper and to prevent them from reaching for the surface, which can lead to thatch.

Common questions about grasscycling

Will grasscycling cause thatching?

Leaving grass clippings on your lawn won’t lead to thatch buildup, as the grass clippings will quickly break down. Thatch buildup is most often caused by overwatering your lawn or adding too much fertilizer causing roots and leaves to grow quickly. Thatch buildup could also be a sign that you need to aerate your lawn and check the drainage.

Does grasscycling cause lawn disease?

The main causes of lawn disease are watering too frequently and for not long enough, cutting grass too short and using fertilizer incorrectly. Grasscycling does not harm your lawn.

Will grasscycling make my lawn look uncared for?

Grasscycling will give you a better-looking, healthier and lush lawn, but take care to regularly cut your grass so that it does not get too tall. Longer clippings can result in larger clumps of clippings that can look a bit untidy.

Grasscycling and rainy weather

If you have not been able to cut your grass for a while due to rainy weather, you can always compost the longer grass in your backyard composter.

Grasscycling is a win-win for you, your lawn and the environment. Why not give it a try?