Green Action Centre asked: If I leave grass clippings on my lawn, will they lead to thatch build-up?

The results are in, and Green Action Centre members have a variety of ways of maintaining their lawns. Many of you said, yes, you leave your grass clippings on your lawn most or all of the time. Terry and Adam confirm they have not had any problems with thatch build-up.

By leaving your grass clippings on your lawn, you are returning much needed moisture and nutrients to the soil in your yard. And contrary to popular belief, grass clippings do not contribute to excess thatch build-up.

Thatch is a layer of dead plant matter on top of your soil. When the microorganisms in your soil cannot keep up with rapid root and grass growth, thatch build-up can occur. More than 1/2 inch of thatch can lead to problems.

If you are having a lot of thatch build-up, this may be caused by:

  • Excess watering
  • Too much fertilizer

So, try grasscycling – leaving your grass clippings on your lawn. This simple trick with save you time and energy previously spent bagging your grass. It will also keep up to 20% of your household’s waste out of the landfill if you are currently tossing your clippings. Grass clippings are free and grasscycling can eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers. For a healthy lawn, try these tips:

  • Mow high. Adjust the mower height to leave your lawn 3-3½ inches long. Never cut off more than 1/3 of the grass height.
  • Mulch It. Use a mulching mower to reduce the size of the clippings. They will break down and release nutrients to your lawn more readily.
  • Keep it sharp and dry. A dull blade can damage grass. Sharpen mower blades annually and mow when the grass is dry.
  • Alternate mowing direction. This keeps the grass from being pushed over in just one direction and being damaged by the sun.

Find out more on grasscycling from Green Action Centre’s composting program.

Read tips and information on caring for your lawn organically with the Manitoba Eco-Network’s Organic Lawn Care Project.