The Benefits of Mulching Explained
What can mulching offer?
Firstly, you will save a massive amount of time, up to 60% quicker than collection. This eliminates the time spent emptying the grass box and no more heaps of grass to worry about.
How does mulching work?
The mulching blade is totally different to a grass collection blade. The mulching blade cuts and re-cuts the grass clipping in to tiny particles. These small particles are blown downwards into the sward, out of sight. These tiny slithers of grass will breakdown within hours depositing key nutrients (i.e. nitrogen, potash and phosphate) back in to the lawn allowing micro-organisms and worms to carry these nutrients back into the soil.
How will mulching benefit my lawn?
A recent government waste project showed that a typical half-acre lawn can produce 4.5 tonnes of grass clippings each season. Those wasted clippings contain as much as 55 kilos of nitrogen. However if you had used a mulching mower, that is enough nitrogen to keep your lawn as healthy and good looking as using any commercial fertiliser. The other benefit is that the lawn gets a steady natural diet with each cut, rather than periodic high doses of chemical fertilisers.
Grass clippings contain other important elements as well. Elements like iron, calcium, magnesium and others are present in smaller amounts, but all of them help your lawn to be healthier and more productive.
Do I have to cut more often with a mulch mower?
The answer to this question is no. Ideally try to cut on a regular basis, say once a week, and try not to shave the lawn. Most lawns are cut too short. There seems to be a desire to imitate the closely manicured look of a golf course green.
Firstly a golf green has been built with a root zone which is an environment designed to replenish the grass on a daily basis. Secondly, golf courses have thousands of pounds spent on drainage, hollow tine coring, spraying and top dressing. You will never reproduce a golf green appearance just by shaving your lawn.
Cutting your lawn at regular intervals and leaving at a reasonable length will tend to dwarf the blade of the grass and improve your lawns general appearance.
The grass blades manufacture food for the plant through the process of photosynthesis. The more leaf area, the more food your grass produces and stores for future use. It's these food reserves that help your lawn recover from stresses caused by heat, cold, insect damage and disease.
How do I get the best results when mulching?
Always remember that the mulching deck is a giant blender. If you were to put too much in, you will not get the best results and some un-mulched grass might be visible.
For example, let's say that you are maintaining your lawn to one inch and you arrive back from holiday and its now three inches, your first cut should be to remove one third ie to cut down to two inches, as soon as you finished cutting the lawn, lower the deck to your normal cutting height and re cut the lawn again, this will achieve the best results.
If you want any recommendations....
Golf clubs cut their fairways regularly and don't collect the clippings. This achieves the same effect as mulching. The fairways look beautifully green and healthy and you don't walk through swathes of grass clippings! What better recommendation!
Frequently asked questions
I have been told that mulching causes thatch and moss, is this true?
NO! Mulching does not cause thatch or moss!
1. Thatch is a result of a variety of factors including grass type, over watering, over fertilising with chemical feed or even aggressive mowing. Fundamentally grass stems growing laterally rather than vertically produce a canopy over the soil. As a result of this, a spongy layer of stems, roots, stolons, and partially decomposed organic matter accumulates on the top of the canopy. In extreme cases, roots will begin to form in the thatch layer and the lawn will become totally dependent on artificial life support in order to survive. Tiny mulched grass clippings break down quickly and help support the bio activity that keeps thatch from forming.
2. Moss is a spore. It will flourish in poor soil conditions. Examples of this include under trees and hedges where the soil nutrient is constantly in demand, very shady areas where sunlight is at a minimum, and thatched areas, for the reasons given above. Mulching will attack moss due to the nitrate and potash that the mulched clippings produce. Weather also has a great deal to answer for! If it has been a wet winter then spring moss can take hold in certain areas of the lawn. Moss spores can travel in the wind - even from the base of your hanging basket out onto your lawn!
Will I walk grass clippings into the house?
You could pick up a very small amount of clippings on your shoes if you really made the effort to do so! This would only ever be on a wet lawn. In fact you would collect far more on your shoes if you were using a grass collecting mower. Even good collection mowers are only about 85% perfect on collection; the grass clippings have only been cut once, are therefore longer and are lying on the top of the lawn, rather than the root base, so would be more prone to being picked up on your shoes.
Can you cut grass in wet conditions?
The answer is yes you can, but any form of mowing is better completed in dry conditions.
Will I need a collection system for leaf control?
Modest amounts of leaves are a great source of organic matter and trace elements that can be effectively mulched where they have fallen. Dry leaves will be mulched along with grass clippings and forced deep into the turf. This rich compost will decompose readily, adding nutrients and organic matter to the soil.