dont leave grass-clipping on lawn

ak-grownApril 21, 2009

i was recently browsing on a web-site that i plan to buy some sod from. This sod farm is about 40 miles away. I alway thought that leaving the clippings was just one way to feed your lawn, unless the grass is to long and leaves a clumpy mess everywhere. But, this sod farm claims that there isnt enough humidity here in Central Oregon to break down the cut grass. I normally wouldn't believe this but this sod farm has been around for 30 years and i would expect them to know alot about grass in our region. So what do you all think?

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Bend? In the wintertime there's enough humidity.

I'm in Boise. In the spring I have been collecting the cuttings and starting compost piles. By summer the grass' rate of growth is slow enough that it's not work bothering trying to collect the clippings, so I mow them in.

In the fall, I mow up leaves and grass clippings to finish the compost piles. By the next spring I've got compost.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 2:04AM
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I live in Utah, where people complain about the humidity if it ever reaches 10%. I only bag my leaves if I'm scalping prior to overseeding. I mulch mow my leaves into the lawn, also. I only ever find traces of the leaves or grass clippings right after I mow.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 7:33AM
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Oregon does not have enough humidity? The bacteria in your soil that will digest those grass clippings do not depend on the humidity of the air to fuction. I have no idea where they came up with that nonesense, but that is what it is.
There are many people out there that in spite of schools having been teaching about recycling for something over 40 years now still have not gotten the message.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 8:08AM
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Since grasscycling is a recommended practice by many municipalities even in the very arid Southwest, I doubt that central Oregon has a unique enough climate to prevent this very benficial practice from working. Decomposition will occur in any climate under virtually all conditions, but some less hospitable ones may slow the process. Moisture is required but moisture is present in the clippings as well and is typically provided in addition from irrigation. If you water your lawn at all, the clippings will break down satisfactorily. If you live in an area where cool season grasses are the norm, you may opt to reduce watering to allow the grasses to enter their normal summer dormancy, but that also reduces their growth considerably so that mowing/grasscycling is not required as often.

Even if climate conditions slow the process of the clippings breaking down, the benefits of grasscycling far outweigh any drawbacks.

And I have a hard time imagining a sod farm not watering their fields of sod in summer in central Oregon. It defies logic and puts paid to their position that there is insufficient "humidity".

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 10:46AM
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rj_hythloday(8A VA)

If my grass gets to long and goes to seed I want to leave it so that it will help fill in some of the bare patches. Second year lawn from seed, but I like my grass in the compost pile to much to leave it on all the time.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 11:21AM
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I would have to mow every 3 days at the peak of the grasses growth season in order for it not to be a clumpy mess when I was done. I just bag most of the time and compost the clippings. That and I end up with clipping all over the floor of my house; because the clipping stick to my shoes or bare feet any time I walk in the yard if I don't pick them up most of the time.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 11:34AM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Its an interesting thought, that there wouldn't be enough humidity. But if you are growing turf grass in that dry of climate, then I assume you need to water it once in awhile?

If you have enough moisture to grow grass, then you have enough moisture to decompose grass clippings.

Mow high, mulch your clippings.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 12:35PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Just a suspicion, but unless this is an organic sod farm I'd say the intensive use of synthetic ferts plays a significant role in slowing bacterial numbers down.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 6:11PM
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I have always understood that growing turf grass was 75-85% water.

And, if the soil temps are above 55 degrees or so the bacteria in the soil will make short work of the cut grass.

Decomposed grass cuttings are also a nice free source of nitrogen. When you add them to a compost pile it heats up virtually over night.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 7:32PM
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"I have always understood that growing turf grass was 75-85% water. "

Yet another reason to return the clippings to the lawn in an arid climate. They help cut water needs in a couple of ways. They return water that they have in them and they also help the soil retain water.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 7:47PM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

Our city promotes using topdressing (sifted compost) on the lawn twice a year. Just 1/4" is all it takes to help the lawn break down the clippings. I don't do lawn but my neighbor has been using this program for a few years now and he has an outstanding lawn.

If you mow the lawn before it gets too tall, you shouldn't have any problem letting the waste on the lawn.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 12:32AM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

just because he grows sod might not necessarily mean he is right in everything he says?? he's growing a commercial product not a lawn. in all the time i've been in forums on the 'net this is the very first time that i can recall ever hearing this being said.

i can't speak for you climate, but we are avid fans of leaving our clip on the lawn when we mow, the best place for it we cut higher so there is room to accomodate, we have never had any issues outside of our lawn survives alone with only rain and no other pampering yet it remains greener and lusher longer than other lawns around the place.


Here is a link that might be useful: lens garden page

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 2:16PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Craziness. We commonly see single-digit humidities and I only bag when I need some green in the compost. But we have a mulching mower and if you have a 35.00 garage sale special, you might have some clumpiness issues.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 10:12PM
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i agree with Joepyeweed, if you keep your' lawn watered then there should always be enough humidity at ground level to decompose. Especially something that breaks down as easy as grass. Here is the direct link to the page that states it:

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 12:54AM
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Humidity is the amount of water vapor in air. Down near the soil what you will have is moisture levels, not humidity. If you water regularly, and have not killed off the soil bacteria by wrong practices, then the soil bacteria will be active, in a moist soil, and will digest those grass clippings converting the nutrients in those clippings into nutrients the growing grass can utilize. The level of humidity in the air has little to do with getting those grass clippings digested, except low humidity can cause moisture loss from your soil.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 7:51AM
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Wai-da minute. In defense of the arid climate $35 garage sale special. So what if it leaves 4" high windrows of clippings, I say. Mow, windrows dry to a crisp in 20 minutes, then mow over them again - the dull blades turn the clippings into a fine shower of grassy dust.

Boring? Not if mentally, you're into the Zen of one of the guys who mows at base ball stadiums with the cool patterns.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 8:49AM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

Yeah David but sharp blades don't damage the grass and it appears greener because the edges don't have as much brown. You don't necessarily need a mulching mower but you do need a sharp blade.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 9:34AM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

David, I agree that your description above is a technique that can be employed, but it burns more gas and takes more time. Who wants to be a servant to their lawn when there are soooooooooooooooooooooooooo many other more productive and useful things to do in a day (which is the reason I don't wheel out the reel mower more often)?


    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 10:32AM
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If you change between a dull and sharp blade, you can do a decent MC Echer lawn job.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 12:43PM
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