How to Mulch with Grass Clippings

Mulching with grass clippings is a great idea. How can you use it to boost the health of your plants?

If your yard is anything like mine, you’re well aware of how quickly grass clippings can collect. A well-kept lawn offers most homeowners a sense of pride, but it also generates a lot of yard waste.

Can these cuttings be used as mulch? Today, I’ll dive deep into this subject. 

Benefits of Using Grass Clippings

The advantages of using fresh grass clippings as mulch include chilling the root zone, retaining moisture, and replenishing up to 25% of the nutrients that plants deplete from the soil. 

Grass clippings are abundant in nitrogen, a macronutrient that all plants require to grow and thrive. When you recycle your clippings by using them as mulch, you add nitrogen back to the soil, enhance its porosity, and lower evaporation.

On top of that, you don’t have to spend additional time bagging it to remove them from your property.

Raised Beds, Vegetable Gardens, and Flowerbeds

Grass clippings are a wonderful organic mulch for vegetable gardens, flowerbeds, and kitchen gardens. Grass clippings, like hay or straw, smother weeds, retain moisture, and decompose over time, feeding the soil.

If you have cool-weather crops, using these clippings as mulch would greatly benefit them. Other heat-loving vegetables, such as peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, and melons, will also benefit from clippings. Remember, however, that they will benefit even more from heat-retaining mulch, such as black plastic.

A vegetable garden covered with dried mulch

How to Mulch with Grass Clippings

Mulching around flowers, vegetables, shrubs, and trees, in general, helps to prevent weeds, conserve moisture, and moderate soil temperatures. 

Grass clippings are an excellent type of mulch, as long as they are applied correctly. Before you begin, keep this in mind: 

  • Use only dry cuttings. Wet grass clippings might mat down, preventing oxygen and moisture from reaching the soil. When oxygen is scarce, anaerobic breakdown of the clippings may occur, resulting in a foul smell.
  • If your lawn has recently been treated with a herbicide for dandelions or other broadleaf weeds, do not use grass clippings as mulch, as this may harm your plants.

Once your grass clippings are ready, collect them and sprinkle them to a depth of 1 to 2 inches in your flowerbeds or vegetable garden.

It might be beneficial to invest in special mulching blades, which chop grass into small pieces, allowing them to dry and degrade more quickly. You could also purchase a special lawnmower, which cuts grass tips into little pieces and disperses them equally around the lawn.

Consider Just Leaving Them Be

Grass clippings that are less than 1 inch long can often be left on your lawn. They will degrade quickly and release nutrients, especially nitrogen, back into the soil. This means you need to use less nitrogen fertilizer.

Longer clippings should be removed because they might suffocate the grass, causing lawn damage.

A land mower equipment for moving the grassfield

Clippings Do Not Increase Thatch

Thatch is an undecomposed organic matter layer that forms between the soil surface and actively developing green vegetation. If organic matter is created quicker than it is destroyed, you end up with thatch.

Contrary to popular assumption, leaving grass clippings on the lawn does not contribute to increasing thatch.

Clippings are made up of water and biodegradable matter that degrades quickly and does not accumulate. Long clippings may contain wiry stem material that decomposes more slowly, but they are still insignificant contributors to thatch formation.

When to Pick Up Clippings

There are times when you should pick up grass clippings:

  • Remove them if the grass is extensively infected with diseases such as leaf spot, rust, or dollar spot to help minimize disease severity.
  • If the grass is wet or has grown too tall, the clippings might stick together and suffocate the grass.
  • If using your mower without a bagging attachment is hazardous, the bag must be left in place.
  • If clippings fall into a curb and gutter area, sweep them up so they don’t end up in storm drains and adjacent water resources, where they can harm water quality.
A fresh grassland under the heat of the sun

Other Ways to Get Rid of Grass Clippings


Grass clippings are great additions to a compost pile because they contain high amounts of nitrogen.

Grass clippings are green materials and should be mixed with brown materials to properly decompose. A thick layer of grass material is dense, and without brown materials and air mixed in, it will lead to anaerobic decomposition (and foul odors).


Grass clippings can also be bagged and discarded. Depending on where you live, you may place it in your yard waste container (which is not the same as a regular trash bin), put it on the curbside for pickup, or bring it to a local disposal facility.
While it is an option, I discourage tossing out large bags of clippings when there are so many other environmentally friendly solutions.

A black bag filled with mowed grass

Can You Mix It into the Soil?

You can mix clippings into the soil to increase the nutritional content of it.

Grass clippings have a nitrogen content of 4%, a phosphorus content of 1%, and a potassium content of 2%. As a result, lawn clippings are the equivalent of a 4-1-2 fertilizer. By incorporating grass clippings into the soil, you are supplying a natural fertilizer. 

Using a tiller, you may quickly incorporate fresh grass clippings into your garden soil.

It is vital to note that they degrade slowly when grass clippings are mixed with soil. This is because grass clippings require oxygen exposure to decompose. When grass clippings are buried underground, they get very little oxygen. 

It may take up to a year for buried grass clippings to degrade and release nutrients into the soil. If you want to speed up the process, add it to your compost pile instead. 

Jeffrey Douglas
Jeffrey Douglas own a landscaping company and has been in the business for over 20 years. He loves all things related to lawns or gardens and believes that proper maintenance is the key to preventing problems in the first place.
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