Mulching vs. Bagging Grass Clippings

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Proper lawn care practices can be overwhelming in number, but many seldom-considered tasks can drastically affect your turf. One such task is the management of grass clippings after mowing. Two common methods for handling grass clippings are mulching and bagging, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. The Pro Outdoor team has put together this guide to help you decide which option is best for you and your lawn. Let’s take a closer look!

What Is Grasscycling?

Grasscycling is the practice of mulching grass clippings back into the lawn after mowing rather than collecting and disposing of them. Essentially, it involves allowing the finely chopped grass clippings to remain on the lawn where they decompose naturally, returning valuable nutrients to the soil. This process mimics the natural cycle of nutrient recycling that occurs in natural ecosystems, where plant material decomposes and enriches the soil

Grasscycling is often achieved using a specialized mulching mower equipped with blades designed to finely chop the clippings. However, any lawn mower can get the job done with a simple mulching attachment instead of a bag. The resulting mulched clippings are then dispersed across the lawn, where they break down quickly, providing essential nutrients for grass growth and promoting overall lawn health. This sustainable practice offers numerous benefits, including improved soil fertility, moisture retention, and reduced dependence on synthetic fertilizers.

Benefits Of Mulching Grass Clippings

Nutrient Recycling

One of the primary advantages of grasscycling is nutrient recycling. Grass clippings are rich in essential nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, which are vital for healthy plant growth. By leaving the clippings on the lawn, these nutrients are returned to the soil, effectively acting as a natural fertilizer. This not only reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers but also promotes a more sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to lawn care. As the clippings decompose, they release nutrients back into the soil, enriching it and promoting healthier grass growth over time.

Moisture Retention

Mulch mowing also contributes to moisture retention in the soil. Mulched grass clippings act as a natural mulch, helping to retain moisture and regulate soil temperature. This can be particularly beneficial during hot summer months or periods of drought when water conservation is essential. Grass clippings are 85% water, which means that they have the unique ability to retain moisture in the soil while simultaneously adding water to your lawn. Your turf misses out on all this extra moisture when grass clippings are bagged. 

Improved Soil Quality

Grasscycling promotes improved soil health and microbial activity. As the grass clippings decompose, they add organic matter to the soil, enhancing its structure and fertility. This organic matter serves as a food source for beneficial soil microbes and earthworms, which play a crucial role in maintaining soil health. Grasscycling helps break down organic matter, release nutrients, and improve soil aeration and drainage. Over time, this leads to healthier soil, better water infiltration, and increased resistance to compaction and erosion.


Grasscycling offers time and labor-saving benefits for homeowners and lawn care enthusiasts. Mulching clippings eliminates the need to bag and dispose of them, saving both time and labor. Lifting heavy bags filled with clippings can put a strain on the body and even lead to injury. This streamlined approach to lawn care reduces the frequency of mowing-related tasks and promotes a more efficient and sustainable lawn maintenance routine. 

Tips For Mulching Grass Clippings

  • Use A Mulching Mower: Invest in a quality mulching mower equipped with sharp blades designed to finely chop grass clippings. Mulching mowers are specifically designed to distribute clippings evenly across the lawn, promoting decomposition and nutrient recycling.
  • Follow The One-Third Rule: Avoid cutting more than one-third of the grass blade height during mowing. This ensures that grass clippings are small enough to decompose quickly and evenly. Mowing regularly at the appropriate height encourages healthy grass growth and minimizes the need for excessive mulching.
  • Mow When Dry: Aim to mow the lawn when the grass is dry to achieve the best mulching results. Wet grass clippings may clump together, hindering decomposition and potentially smothering the grass beneath. Additionally, mowing wet grass can lead to uneven cuts and an inconsistent mulch layer.
  • Adjust Mowing Frequency: Adjust the frequency of mowing based on grass growth and seasonal conditions. During periods of rapid growth, more frequent mowing may be necessary to maintain the one-third rule and prevent excessive thatch buildup. Conversely, during periods of slower growth, less frequent mowing may be sufficient.
  • Maintain Proper Mower Height: Adjust the mower deck height to the appropriate setting for your grass type and growing conditions. Cutting grass at the correct height encourages healthy root development and helps shade the soil, reducing moisture loss and promoting a thicker, more resilient lawn.
  • Regularly Maintain Mower Blades: Keep mower blades sharp to achieve clean cuts and optimal mulching performance. Dull blades can tear the grass rather than cleanly cutting it, resulting in larger clippings that take longer to decompose. Sharpen blades regularly to ensure a clean, efficient mulching process.

Benefits Of Bagging Grass Clippings

Aesthetic Appeal

One significant advantage of bagging grass clippings is the immediate improvement in the aesthetic appearance of the lawn. Homeowners can achieve a cleaner, neater look that enhances the overall visual appeal of their outdoor space. This can be desirable for those who prefer a well-manicured lawn with no visible clippings, especially in areas where appearance is a top priority.

Weed Prevention

Bagging grass clippings can help prevent the spread of weeds in the lawn. Bagging reduces the likelihood of weed growth and propagation from grass clippings that may contain weed seeds. This can be particularly beneficial for lawns that are prone to weed infestations or where weed control is a top priority. By bagging clippings, homeowners can effectively reduce the presence of weeds in their lawn, leading to a healthier and more attractive outdoor environment.

Reduced Thatch

Electing to bag grass clippings while mowing can help prevent thatch buildup in the lawn. Thatch is a layer of dead grass and organic matter that accumulates on the soil surface over time. While a thin layer of thatch can be beneficial, excessive buildup can impede water and nutrient absorption, leading to poor lawn health. This can be particularly important in areas with heavy clay soils or where thatch accumulation is a concern.

Avoids Disease & Pests

Bagging grass clippings can offer peace of mind for homeowners concerned about the potential for grass clippings to contribute to lawn diseases or pest problems. By removing and disposing of clippings, you can reduce the risk of disease spread and pest infestation in their lawn. This can be particularly important in areas where lawn diseases or pests are prevalent or where homeowners have had previous issues with disease or pest outbreaks. 

Tips For Bagging Grass Clippings

  • Use A Bagging Attachment: Equip your lawn mower with a bagging attachment specifically designed for collecting grass clippings. This attachment securely collects clippings as you mow, preventing them from scattering across the lawn.
  • Empty The Bag Regularly: Monitor the bagging attachment throughout the mowing process and empty it regularly as it fills up. A full bag can hinder mower performance and reduce airflow, leading to uneven cutting and potential clogging.
  • Mow At The Proper Height: Set the mower deck to the appropriate height for your grass type and growing conditions. Cutting the grass at the correct height ensures that clippings are neither too long nor too short, making them easier to collect and dispose of effectively.
  • Dispose Of Clippings Properly: Once the bag is full, empty the grass clippings into a designated compost pile or green waste bin for disposal. Proper disposal of grass clippings helps prevent the accumulation of organic matter on the lawn, which can lead to thatch buildup and inhibit grass growth.
  • Avoid Bagging Excessive Clippings: While bagging can be an effective way to maintain a tidy lawn appearance, avoid bagging excessive clippings that may result from infrequent mowing or cutting more than one-third of the grass blade height at a time. Excessive clippings can overwhelm the bagging attachment and hinder mower performance.
  • Inspect The Discharge Chute: Periodically inspect the mower's discharge chute for any obstructions or clogs that may impede the flow of grass clippings into the bagging attachment. Clear any debris or buildup to ensure proper airflow and efficient collection of clippings.

Recycle Grass Clippings For Maximum Lawn Health

While both mulching and bagging grass clippings have their merits, mulching emerges as the preferred choice for lawn health and sustainability. Grasscycling promotes soil fertility, moisture retention, and overall lawn health. Mulching also reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers, conserves water, and promotes a healthy soil ecosystem.

However, it's essential to consider the specific needs and preferences of your lawn when deciding between mulching and bagging. If a tidy lawn appearance is a top priority, bagging may be the preferred option. To ensure that you are getting the most out of your lawn mowing, consider calling a professional lawn mowing service. Regular mowing services help maintain lawn health, regardless of whether you want to mulch or bag your lawn’s clippings. Call Pro Outdoor today for more information on lawn mowing services in Georgia!