Mulch lawn mowing has continued to rapidly increase in popularity in recent times. While mulch mowing is not a new concept, most of us have been catching our grass clippings for so long now, it can seem like a challenging and interesting new novel idea to some of us. Whereas mulch lawn mowing always been done in the past and was likely always the preferred method of recycling grass clippings until just very recent times when we all wanted those perfectly manicured lawns and gardens; which while pretty, have always been completely removed and isolated from the natural goodness of nature's own recycling and fertilization systems.
And as all things old become new again: the resurgence of mulch lawn mowing is upon us.
What Is Mulch Lawn Mowing
Mulch lawn mowing is simply defined as leaving the lawn clippings on the lawn during lawn mowing, and not catching them to be disposed of elsewhere in other garden areas or otherwise put into the trash.
These days, mulch mowing is more strictly defined as when a special plug or other device is inserted into the catching chute area of the lawn mower, or when a dedicated mulching lawn mowing is used, which then forces the lawn clippings to cycle through the lawn mower blades several times before finally being ejected back into the lawn and lawn thatch layer.
Obviously with the mower blades spinning so fast, this process is almost instantaneous.
Reasons To Mulch Mow Lawns
These finely chopped grass clippings then insulate the lawn soil from heat and cold, as well as quickly breaking down into natural fertilizing compost for the lawn. Lawn clippings are filled with nutrients, primary of which is Nitrogen, which is also the nutrient lawns require the most of.
Mulch lawn mowing saves us the wasteful practice of throwing away this incredible resource of garden goodness and nutrients, and instead re-feeds the grass clippings back into the health of the lawn.
Which is exactly as nature does all over the world. Most noticeably seen in deciduous trees which lose their leaves in the Fall, and those leaves then fall to the ground and insulate the soil over Winter, while also composting themselves and their nutrients right back into the soil.
And for those of us living in hotter climates, all types of soil insulation and mulching is incredibly beneficial to our lawns and gardens in Summer as well. When the heat can so quickly dry out soils and plant and lawn roots, which then brings rapid damage to lawns and gardens.
Mulch lawn mowing in the Summer can be especially beneficial in this regard too. To insulate the lawn root system from excessive moisture evaporation which can lead to lawn root damage and other severe lawn damage in the hottest months. The heat of Summer also aids in breaking down and rotting these lawn clippings into fertilizer for the lawn at greater speed, which continues to increase our overall soil and lawn health.
When Not To Mulch Mow Lawns
Avoid mulch mowing lawns:
- when there is high chance that clippings may be trailed into the home under foot
- whenever there will be an excess of lawn clippings being left on the lawn for too long - when the grass is too long when mowed
- when the lawn clippings themselves will be too long in length - whenever the grass was left too long between lawn mowing
- when the growth rate of the lawn is exceeding the deterioration rate of the lawn clippings
Lawns which are heavily thatched should not be mulch mowed, until the thatch is first greatly reduced.
If our lawn is very long in leaf length, and we want to be maintaining a healthy nice looking lawn in the future, then we would not want to leave an abundance of clippings on the lawn for too long. The time to break down these clippings would take too long in relation to the regrowth rate of the lawn.
If our lawn is growing very fast, then there will likely not be enough time between each lawn mowing for the last lot of mulch mowed lawn clippings to have fully deteriorated and broken down into the soil. So all that would be happening is that we would be adding more and more and more lawn clippings to the top of the lawn, without enough time for the last lot to break down. Which can be a recipe for disaster with some lawns.
If lawns are growing very quickly, then an occasional mulch mowing may be the best solution. Instead of mulch mowing every time the lawn is mowed, perhaps every second or third time.
If our lawns are close to doors leading into the house, then mulch mowing may not be an option for that particular area of lawn, as it can take a few days for mulch mowed clippings to break down enough into the soil.
Mulch Mowing Saint Augustine Lawns
Saint Augustine lawns can be quite different to other lawns, due to their often thick lawn thatch layers, lack of underground runners (rhizomes), and very wide leaf blades and very thick above ground runners (stolons).
Any Saint Augustine lawns which are a little thin due to growing in heavy shade or due to poor lawn health at the time - can and should be mulch mowed, absolutely!
Some of the new soft Saint Augustine lawn varieties can be very low thatching due to very good breeding practices of the turf breeder. If you have a low thatch Saint Augustine lawn variety, then mulch mowing is a definite option and recommended.
Any Saint Augustine lawn which is in general good health without too much excess thatch can be safely mulch mowed.
The only time when mulch mowing is not recommended for Saint Augustine lawns is when there is a very thick and heavy thatch layer. With those St Augustine lawns where the thatch has become excessively thick, it’s always best to catch the lawn clippings in these situations.