This week we’re joined by Trish Ouei, Benton County Extension Agent for Stormwater Quality. Trish works to focus on Urban Stormwater through the Extension-based Northwest Arkansas Stormwater Education Program. 


With the beginning of spring upon us, it is time to start facing the ugly facts about warmer weather- someone is going to have to start mowing the yard again!  While you might have missed that smell of fresh cut grass for a few months, it will quickly be a reminder of reoccurring maintenance and time spent in the sun working instead of playing.  Mowing can be a good activity though and even reduce your lawn maintenance time – start grass cycling!

 

IMG_0990

Have you considered “Grass-cycling?”

Stop bagging your grass and put those clipping to use by grass cycling.  Grass cycling is simple the process of leaving the clippings on the yard to break down and return to the soil.  Using the mulching attachment on your mower not only distributes clippings evenly across the yard, it will even speed up the decomposition process by cutting the clippings into smaller pieces so they break down more quickly (and smaller clippings are less likely to get tracked back into the house).

IMG_0997

Mulch attachments on a mower can help to distribute clippings evenly across your yard. 

As the grass clippings break down or decompose, they return nutrients and organic matter (a.k.a. fertilizer) back to the soil.  Grass clippings returned to the lawn provide up to 25 percent of your lawn’s total fertilizer needs. Clippings contain about 4 percent nitrogen, 2 percent potassium and 1 percent phosphorus – nutrients grass wants.  While the clippings decompose, they also serve indirectly as a food source for the bacteria in the soil, which are doing many beneficial things for a healthy lawn.

Grass-and-Roots1

Grass-cycling can add valuable nutrients back to the lawn.  

Source: EWSWA

Grass cycling can save you time and money on fertilization.  Be sure to get your soil tested to see if fertilizer is even needed for your lawn.  There is a good chance that it will only need a small amount of fertilizer and the grass cycling might just be the trick!  If nothing else, starting to grass cycling will require less fertilizer being purchased thus less time spent on application.  Using less fertilizer also helps protect our local waterways.  Excess fertilizer not used by the lawn actually ends up in our local creeks and lakes causing unintended growth of algae (another thing you probably didn’t miss over the last few months).


Related Posts:

10 Inspiring Ideas to Achieve a Water-Smart Yard

Watershed Landscape: The Dirt on Soils

Additional Resources:

U of A Extension

U of A Soil Testing Services