Considering that you mow your lawn at least weekly six to seven months of the year, the lawn clippings are the most natural and economical fertilizer available on the market today. Leaving these clippings on the lawn and allowing them to decay and decompose in place is the equivalent of about three applications of lawn fertilizer according to a Maryland research study.
This process also builds up humus, keeps soils microbiologically active and, over time, improves soils physically and chemically. Grass is the most effective plant available for reconditioning the soil. An extremely important function of turfgrasses is soil improvement through organic matter additions derived from the turnover of roots and other plant tissues that are synthesized in part from atmospheric CO2 via photosynthesis. A high proportion of the world's most fertile soils have been developed under a vegetative cover of grass (Gould, F.W. 1968. Grass Systematics. McGraw-Hill, New York).
When the lawn is properly cut, removing no more than one-third of the total leaf area at a single mowing, the clippings fall into the turf canopy, leaving no unsightly dead clippings on the surface. Microbial degradation then begins quickly preventing a thatch problem.
Published May 5, 2008
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org