Mulching Clippings vs Bagging Clippings—Which Grass Strategy is Best?
As Floridians who are consistently trying to grow healthy, beautiful lush lawns and simultaneously dealing with the treacherous, unpredictable weather that our sunshine state loves to throw at us, it goes without saying that we’ll try anything when it comes to helping our landscape—especially when it comes to post-mowing strategy.
Any person with a yard knows this inevitable truth—if you’re mowing, those clippings need to go somewhere. But where is best?
Essentially, there’s a dedicated split out there between folks who are #teambaggedgrassclippings and #teammulchedgrassclippings, but if you’re someone who’s not even sure which team to join, you’re not alone. If you’re not even sure where to begin when it comes to making this kind of decision, then you’re in the right place.
So, we’ll ask the question that’s on everyone’s minds—what grass clipping strategy is best for my Florida lawn?
The short answer? Both.
But you didn’t come here for the short answer. You came here for the detailed one—the one that’s going to teach you how to better care for your lawn. And that’s something that we’re happy to oblige.
What is Mulching and What is Bagging?
First things first, let’s get the definitions of each of these things straight. If you’re totally new to lawn care and you’re feeling lost, don’t worry—we all have to start somewhere. And honestly, that’s a lot of the reason this blog exists in the first place.
We love to help folks build a solid, foundational knowledge of the way landscaping works, and part of that is helping to really spell out some of the basics. So, consider this your mulching vs clipping introductory course—a definition 101 class, if you will.
This whole mulching vs clipping split derives from the excess grass that you’re left with after you mow your lawn.
Mulching those clippings typically entails you leaving the grass clippings in the lawn (usually exactly where the mower dispels them) and allowing them to naturally decompose over time.
Alternatively, bagging your clippings means that you’re collecting those cut grass clippings post mowing and putting them either in your compost bin or disposing of them properly in one of your state-approved waste containers for your yard.
Neither of these options is inherently bad. But which is better? That’s exactly what we’re here to answer.
Each of these strategies has its own pros and cons, and oftentimes, the strategy that’s best for your lawn is going to be based on individual factors, like:
- The type of grass or turf
- Your landscape goals
- The surrounding area
- Your stance on environmentalism and sustainability
But for now, let’s talk about each type of post-mowing strategy and give each case some ground to stand on.
Let’s Talk Mulching
Mulching is essentially the practice of leaving your grass clippings on your lawn to naturally decompose. As these grass clippings start to decompose and break down, they’ll add in nutrients straight from the clippings down to the soil. Typically, the process of mulching will increase nitrogen and other nutrients that lawns need, which ultimately results in fewer chemicals needed to properly fertilize your lawn.
The Pros of Mulching
- As we mentioned, mulching will really help your lawn to soak in extra nutrients. Leaving your clippings to naturally decompose will allow those clippings to deposit the same beneficial potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorous nutrients that fertilizer can—and often, this can result in fewer fertilizer feedings for your lawn.
- Leaving your clippings to decompose can save you a ton of time and effort—especially if you have an enormous lawn. Think about it—you’re just cutting and moving on. No need to follow-up with a bag or empty out your lawnmowers built-in bag, either. When you’re bagging, you’re stuck having to stop every now and again to empty your bag and move on. When you leave clippings behind, you save lots of time.
- Mulching is a sustainable, earth-friendly practice.
The Cons of Mulching
- Mulching your lawn can leave your landscape looking a little haphazard, chaotic, and unkempt. While it’s just a bunch of grass clippings (and not anything unsafe or truly unsightly), it can look less than tidy. While this matters less for private property and home landscape, it can be a blaring con for businesses, organizations, and homes within HOA communities and country clubs.
- It takes time for those clippings to break down. Mind you, this won’t be like, a month-long process, but it can take some time for your lawn to reap the benefits of mulching.
- Mulching is not ideal for grass that isn’t cut often. Why? Because if you only mow every now and again, those grass clippings you’re leaving behind will be giant, long chunks—and leaving big clumps of grass in your yard can cause the lawn underneath to rot or die.
Bagging your clippings is probably a pretty self-explanatory process, right? Instead of letting your clippings fly free and decompose naturally, you’re just picking them up or letting your mower bag them as you go. Then, you’re emptying them into your compost bin or an approved waste bin. Bagging your clippings often leaves a tidier, neater appearance for your landscape in general.
The Pros of Bagging
- Bagging clippings takes care of lots of yardwork all at once—not only are you mowing your lawn, but you’re tackling taking care of the debris all at the same time. Most mowers out there have bags attached, so it’s a simple process to bag up all the clippings while you mow.
- Bagging leaves a neater, more professional-looking lawn. Not that grass clippings on the lawn are a huge deal, but bagging your clippings means there won’t be tons of chunked up grass sitting on your lawn waiting to decompose.
- Bagging is a great choice for folks who mow less frequently because mulching will require smaller, chopped up pieces of grass to work better.
- When you bag, you reduce your chances of old grass clippings with fungus or diseases infecting your lawn—those pieces will be dead and gone, not left to infect the rest of the landscape.
The Cons of Bagging
- Bagging can take up a lot of time. Why? Because you’re stuck having to empty your bag over and over again until the lawn is complete.
- Your lawn misses out on extra, natural nutrients and will likely need to be fertilized more often.
- It’s less environmentally friendly to bag up your clippings and throw them out—letting them naturally decompose in your lawn is a much more sustainable practice.
At the end of the day, how you decide to deal with your clippings is totally up to you—but either option will certainly work! If you’re on the fence about what to do with your clippings, aren’t sure how to dispose of your grass shavings properly, or are simply looking for someone else to deal with your lawn for you, give us a call! At Landcrafters, we’re all about lawns and landscaping, and we know a thing or two about what’s best for your grass clipping dilemma. Reach out to us at 727-201-3947 to discuss your lawn and landscape needs! Or contact us directly right here.
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