To catch or not to catch? Grass clippings that is. Should you catch, rake or leave your grass clippings when mowing your lawn?
There is no definitive yes or no answer to this, as a combination of both is required for most lawns.
It is ok to leave your clippings on the lawn every now and again, as clippings are a great source of nitrogen and can act as a natural fertiliser for your lawn. Recycling your grass clippings back into your lawn can actually account for 25% of its annual nitrogen requirements.
If you are mowing regularly and only removing a small amount of the leaf, then it will be fine to not catch the clippings most of the time. Leaving too many clippings on the lawn can cause your grass to burn and lose colour. If the lawn hasn’t been mowed for a couple of weeks due to rain or you are busy with other things, it would be better to collect the clippings when you mow next or to rake them up afterwards. Keep in mind that you don’t ever want to be removing more than one third of the leaf at a time.
Do clippings cause thatch?
Not catching your clippings will not cause you to have thatch. But if you have a large amount of thatch, catching your clippings is recommended as it will help prevent adding to the existing problem.
If you are using a regular mower you should only be leaving small amounts of clippings every so often. If you have a mulching mower which cuts the clippings up much finer, then it is ok to leave the clippings on your lawn, so long as they aren’t left in clumps and they are evenly distributed. Mulching mowers cut clippings smaller which allows them to easily fall through your grass to the soil surface. As the clip is smaller, it will also break down quicker to provide nutrients to the lawn. It will also help to reduce evaporation and actually keep the soil temperature cooler. Unlike larger clippings that can sit on the top and create added heat.
Do turf varieties need to be treated differently?
You definitely need to take the type of grass you have into consideration when deciding whether to catch your clippings. If you have a couch lawn and are looking for a manicured finish, it’s always best to catch your clippings. If you have a buffalo or kikuyu lawn, you can generally follow the instructions provided above.