Garden lovers keep asking themselves: mulch or collect? Should you chop up the lawn clippings and spread them over the area, or rather dispose of them in the compost?
The answer to this question tends to lean more towards mulching because of the numerous benefits it offers.
What does lawn mulch mean?
Mulching covers the lawn with a layer of unrotted organic matter. The plant residues that accumulate when the lawn is cut are used for this. The shredded blades of grass remain on the mowed area and eventually fall to the top layer of soil.
Here they are decomposed by microorganisms, beetles, and earthworms, resulting in humus.
With a mulching mower, you can complete two steps in just one operation. The device shreds the blades of grass and then distributes them over the area.
How to mulch properly
Properly mulching the lawn requires not only proper preparation but also regularity. If you consider the sequence of measures within a season, you can enjoy a lush green lawn throughout the growing season.
Preparation for mulching
Wait until the lawn slowly wakes up from hibernation. The blades of grass should have reached a length of seven to eight centimeters before you mow it for the first time. If you take this action too early, you endanger the health of the lawn. The stalks can be easily damaged and will no longer grow back healthily.
You should also not wait too long before mowing for the first time, because then the mower will no longer be able to cut through the lawn, even at the maximum cutting height that can be set. The period between March and April is ideal for the first mowing. The clippings are disposed of so that the lawn gets enough light.
Scarify and fertilize
To make the mowed lawn grow faster, you can scarify it. This removes weeds and thatch so that the turf is better aerated. Sprinkle some fertilizer on the lawn to cover the nutritional needs of the freshly sprouting plants. If necessary, you can also apply lime to the lawn if the pH value is no longer in the optimal range.
Sprinkle every two to three years:
- 200 grams on sandy soils
- 400 grams on loamy soils
- 150 grams on acidic soils
As soon as the blades of grass have again reached a length of between 6-8 cm (2-3 inches), you can drive over the lawn with a mulching mower. Then adjust the cutting blade so that the plants are reduced by a third of their growth height. If your lawn is 6 cm (2 inches) high, you should shorten it to 3 to 4 cm (1- 0.5 inches).
Even mulched lawns need to be watered from time to time. However, the lawn sprinkler should only be switched on once a week so that the mulch layer does not get too wet.
If there is no rain for a long time, causing the soil to dry out, you should water the lawn two to three times a week, depending on the intensity of the heatwave. So that the soil is properly moistened, you should run the lawn sprinkler for at least half an hour.
Mulch later in the year
After the first mulch mowing of the year, the grass should have grown back to a certain height before the next maintenance measure is carried out. The location plays an important role in this.
The more sun shines on the lawn, the lower the blades of grass can be before they are cut again. As a rule of thumb, an optimal height of 6 cm (2.3 inches) applies to areas that are heavily exposed to the sun. On shady lawns, the blades of grass should have grown about 8 cm (3 inches) high.
Mulch or mow the lawn?
Some hobby gardeners swear by mulching. Other nature lovers stick to mowing the lawn and will probably never try mulching. There is no general answer as to which method is more suitable.
The question of yes or no depends on the respective location and the soil conditions. The lawn itself also decides whether mulching or mowing is better suited.
While mulching is proving to be increasingly beneficial for the vitality of the lawn, mowing with a regular lawn mower is increasingly having to contend with numerous disadvantages.
When mowing the lawn, the clippings are collected in a collection basket and composted. This deprives the area of valuable nutrients that later have to be supplied by expensive fertilizers.
If you do without regular fertilization, the grass can no longer develop magnificently. The turf becomes gappy and unwanted moss and plants spread over the area.
These are the benefits of mowing:
- Time required: longer mowing intervals if mulching is not used
- Appearance: Lawn appears clean and well cared for
- Suitability: only mow heavy and sandy soils, do not mulch
- Natural Fertilizer: Grass clippings can be composted
Which material is suitable for mulching?
For the lawn, the lawn clippings are ideal for mulching due to their composition and ingredients. If leaves have accumulated on the surface, you do not necessarily have to remove them.
When mowing with an appropriate device, the plant parts are shredded with the lawn clippings and distributed over the area. This combination improves the nutrient balance in the soil. Fallen twigs, pieces of bark, and straw are not suitable for mulching lawns.
|straw||dried foliage||bark, branches, and twigs||lawn clippings|
|degree of decomposition||medium||high||small amount||high|
Care should be taken when picking up leaves from the road. The leaves can contain toxic heavy metals that build up in your lawn.
When should you mulch?
In the spring, the lawn is mulched for the first time. It is important that the blades of grass have reached a certain length so that you do not damage the plants unnecessarily and can drive them out again.
The weather is also important. Choose an overcast but dry day to work the lawn. This saves the plants stress from heat.
Why a wet lawn is not mulched:
- when it rains, the clippings clump together
- Putrefaction processes can occur
- The lawn gets bare spots
- Reseeding becomes necessary
How often do you need to mulch?
After the first mulch mowing, regular care measures are required. If you mow and mulch the area at irregular intervals, too many clippings will remain on the area. Clumps of grass can quickly form, which in places negatively affect the growth of the plants.
Therefore, it is necessary to mulch the lawn at least 21 times in spring, summer, and autumn of a year. The ideal interval between care measures is seven to eight days.
Why is it useful to mulch the lawn?
Whether mulching is good or bad is often a matter of controversy. In the meantime, however, numerous disadvantages of mulching have been eliminated. If you mulch an area regularly and correctly, you will help your lawn to be in vital health.
It looks stronger and shines in lush green tones than an unmulched lawn. Mulching helps against weeds and moss because the turf develops more densely.
|closed nutrient cycle||faster growth due to increased nutrient availability|
|Fertilizer costs are saved||more frequent mowing required|
|Protection against ground frost and dehydration in hot weather||The lawn must be dry|
|Soil organisms are more active||Mulch mowers are more expensive than lawn mowers|
Which devices are suitable for mulching?
There are numerous devices that are suitable for mulching. The robot lawnmower has proven to be unbeatable because it works continuously and independently.
However, since it cannot be used without restrictions on all areas, many hobby gardeners have to resort to other devices.
Mulching with a cylinder mower
A reel mower works with blade reels in which four to six blades are arranged horizontally and curved. The device is operated by hand and works without electricity and petrol.
As soon as you set the reel mower in motion, the reel rotates and slides past a fixed counter blade. If a blade of grass gets caught between the blades, it is severed. Such devices do not have a collection basket, so the cut blades of grass land immediately on the lawn.
This distinguishes the cylinder mower:
- enables significantly deeper cuts
- cuts precisely
- protects the lawn
With these devices, the lawn clippings are not collected in a catch basket. Mulching mowers have two cutting units. They mow the blades of grass and then shred them with the help of specially shaped blades. Some models have mulching blades with multiple cutting edges that are arranged on different levels.
The airflow that swirls the cut blades of grass is created in a mulching bell. This ensures that the plant parts are cut several times and optimally chopped up. The fine residue is worked into the turf during mowing.
Mulch kit for normal lawn mowers
Depending on the manufacturer, you can upgrade different lawn mowers with a mulching kit. Most kits contain special mulching blades that are swapped out for the regular blades in the lawnmower. Some kits also include a plastic container. After the special blades have been installed, you can use the lawnmower with or without a grass catcher.
In order to mulch the lawn directly with the mowing process, the grass catcher is omitted. You remain flexible and can also use the lawnmower in its original function with the collection basket. Here, too, the mulching knives prove to be advantageous, because the grass volume is significantly reduced by the shredding.
The little helpers prove to be perfect tools for mowing and mulching at the same time. Depending on the model, the mowing interval can be set manually. The distances between the mowing units should not be too great, because the robotic lawnmower quickly reaches its limits when the grass is too high.
The blades only cut off the tips of the blades of grass so that they fall to the ground and create an ideal mulch layer. Due to the small size of the clippings, rapid decomposition is guaranteed.
Good to know:
- Robotic lawnmowers should be cleaned once a week
- some models pause automatically when it rains
- precise cutting avoids yellow tips
frequently asked Questions
When do I need to mulch my freshly seeded lawn?
When you should mulch your newly laid lawn for the first time depends on numerous factors such as the time of sowing, the amount of light, and the type of lawn.
The culm height is a good guideline that you can use as a guide. Sports and play lawns are mulched for the first time from a height of 70 to 80 millimeters. Decorative lawns may grow 80 to 85 millimeters high. When creating a new shaded lawn, the grass should be between 90 and 100 millimeters high.
When do I have to water my lawn after mulching?
At the latest when the wilting point sets in, you should water your lawn. You can recognize this point in time by the fact that the leaves on the grass are slowly curling up and fading.
Is it true that mulching suffocates the lawn?
This prejudice has now been refuted. Studies have shown that soil organisms are 40 percent more active under a layer of mulch. Mulching, therefore, increases the breathing capacity in the top layer of soil.
Can I mulch my lawn despite the weeds?
Mulching helps against weeds because the fine layer of organic materials robs the seeds of light to germinate. Mulching is only effective against fungi if it is implemented correctly. An oversupply of nitrogen and water favors fungal growth.
Can I mulch the lawn without special equipment?
When you trim the lawn with a regular lawn mower and collect the clippings, you should not spread them directly on the area. The lawn clippings are often too coarse and already clumped. Let the material rot on the compost.
Do I need to fertilize the lawn after mulching?
The lawn usually does not need additional fertilization, as the lawn clippings decompose and the nutrients get into the soil. However, fresh compost does not harm the lawn.