GrassCycling

Our Savvy AwardOur GrassCycling Virtual Workshop won first place in a national competition of government communicators in the GO GREEN Program Efforts! It's the first time we've ever taken home the top prize.

If you haven't taken the award-winning GrassCycling Virtual Workshop yet, check it out at the bottom of this page.

What is GrassCycling?

Grasscycling has many great benefitsGrassCycling is a simple, natural way of recycling grass and returning water and nutrients to the soil. It builds a healthier, more natural lawn and helps you manage grass clippings on-site instead of hauling them off.

Mulch mowing is the most common and easiest type of GrassCycling, but you can also GrassCycle by adding grass clippings to your compost pile, using them as mulch or blending them with soil in your garden or flower beds.


GrassCycling Information


Build a Healthier Lawn

  • Grass clippings from mulch mowing decompose quickly, returning valuable water and nutrients back to the soil.
  • Mulch mowing can provide up to 1/4 to 1/2 of a lawn’s fertilizer needs.
  • GrassCycling reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.

Save Time and Money!

  • Reduce disposal costs by not hauling off grass clippings.
  • Reduce peak season demand for organics collection, which helps keep utility rates down.
  • Avoid having to empty awkward mower bags every time you mow.

Do I need a special lawnmower?
Mulching mowers are designed to cut grass differently than a bagger or side discharge type. They have special blades and deck designs that finely chop the grass clippings before falling back into the lawn.

There are mulching blades that can be added to a regular mower; however, they are not as effective at mulching the grass into fine pieces. Electric mulching mowers can also help reduce air pollution. Push reel mowers use no gas or electricity and work well, too!

Does mulch mowing cause thatch buildup?
No. Thatch is made up of roots and stems and is caused by unhealthy lawn practices, not mulch mowing.

Does mulch mowing spread lawn disease?
No. There are many causes of lawn disease; mulch mowing is not one of them. Improper watering and fertilizing are the primary causes of turfgrass disease.

Will mulch mowing leave clumps of grass on my lawn?
No. Grass will not clump as long as you don't mow when it's too high or too wet. When you use a mulching mower and clip grass short (1/3 blade, less than 1"), they decompose quickly.

  1. The Grass Roots: Encourage your grass roots to grow deep and be less dependent on nutrients and water. If installing a new lawn, prepare the soil to a depth of 24" and improve it with organic matter such as compost. For an existing lawn that you maintain or want to improve, practice tips 2 through 10.
  2. Water Wisely: Water deeply and not too frequently – about 1" a week is all that's needed. If it’s been raining a lot, you probably don’t need to turn on sprinklers. Deep watering also helps encourage your grass to grow deeper roots.
  3. A Carpet of Moss: Our Northwest soil is naturally acidic, which mosses love. Moss also flourishes in shade and soggy soils. If you don’t mind the moss, you can leave your lawn as it is and set your mower height a little higher for the illusion of a greener, grassier lawn. If you want to get rid of moss you will need to change your soil conditions. Keep in mind that moss killers are only a temporary fix unless you improve soil by adding lime to balance the pH and sandy loam or better drainage for a drier soil. See step 8 for how to sweeten your soil and get rid of moss with a key ingredient.
  4. Fertilizing Basics: Lawns want nitrogen, but use only the slow release type. Too much fertilizer will cause a flush of soft green growth that is weak, grows rapidly, uses more water and requires more frequent mowing. With slow release fertilizers, you won’t see instant results, but over time the roots will be encouraged to reach deeper into the soil to grab the nitrogen. The results are worth the wait.
  5. Mulch Mowing Matters: Take advantage of grass clippings; they are a FREE source of nitrogen. Leave clippings on the grass by mulch mowing. Set your mower height from between 2 and 3 inches, so you mow the grass blade, not the stalk. Sharp blades make the difference; dull blades will make your grass look ragged. Cut a maximum of 1” or 1/3 of the blade at a time. Grass clippings can supply ¼ to ½ of your lawn’s fertilizer and nitrogen needs.
  6. A Plug for Aerating: Golf shoes don't work for soil aeration. If you have clay or heavily compacted soil, you need to aerate with a power aerator. Leave the plugs on the lawn. They will naturally disappear, and your lawn will love you for it.
  7. Add Sandy Loam to Your Dirt: After aerating, you will want to add a thin layer of sandy loam, compost or top soil to your lawn. This will improve packed soil conditions and allows grass roots to dig deeper.
  8. Sweeten your Soil: Dolomite lime, Super Sweet and calcium carbonate - these are all inexpensive soil additives that make the soil less acidic so the grass can absorb more nutrients. Lime also helps to break up hard-packed clay soil over time.
  9. Seed Sense: To keep your lawn healthy, reseed once each year even if you don’t think it’s necessary. Use only a patented grass seed. You may pay a premium, but it is one place where you get what you pay for. The process of reseeding will help keep weeds at bay and keep a healthy supply of grass growing in your lawn.
  10. Time Tested: Enjoy your lawn and have fun. If you’re after that perfect lawn, know that it takes time to see the results. You could spend a lot of time and money on over fertilizing, over watering, weed and moss killers or even new sod. You may see some quick results but they will not be long lasting, unless you care properly for your lawn.


GrassCycling Virtual Workshop

GrassCycling Virtual WorkshopAre you ready to put your knowledge to the test? Challenge our Mulch Master and see if you can become the next GrassCycling Guru.

Complete this fun, informative, online workshop and recieve a free "I'm a Mulcher" yard sign to show off your GrassCycling prowess. Takes about 15 minutes.

Get started now...


Questions?

Contact Ron Jones at 360.753.8509 or rjones@ci.olympia.wa.us