It is important to over-emphasize how crucial overseeding is, but the program after that draws many controversies and includes watering and fertilizing, among other things. Then, there is a dilemma between choosing whether you should bag or mulch afterward. Even some seasoned gardeners won’t give you a clear guide on this. So, which is better?
Mulching is better than bagging, considering the biological benefits that come with it. While it also has some flips sides, your lawn stands to gain a lot, including improved nutrients and better moisture content. Although bagging also brings about various benefits, it doesn’t make it better than mulching.
However, it is important to note that the choice you make may at times depend on your personal preferences and lawn goals. So, you must carefully look into the pros and cons before deciding which route to go. For example, if you want to maintain a clean lawn immediately after overseeding, you can bag the clippings. But if you want to keep a healthy lawn in the long run, we recommend mulching.
This article deals with the advantages and disadvantages you get to experience with both options. You should understand why you need to make a specific choice once you are done reading.
Bagging pertains to picking up and removing grass clippings after you mowed your lawn. You’ve probably come across various misconceptions about why you should or should not bag your lawn after overseeding. There are some pros and cons to this method and we will discuss them below.
Advantages of Bagging After Overseeding
Below are some of the advantages you get when you bag after overseeding your lawn.
You Can Reuse the Grass Clippings for Other Purposes
You do not have to discard the grass clippings completely. There are various productive ways to make better use of them, including the following recommendations.
For a gardener, bagging may be advantageous because you can use the grass clipping to make compost for an upcoming project. The clippings are rich in nitrogen and other nutrients, which can form an excellent base for your compost mixture. Thus, if you are bagging the grass after overseeding your lawn, make sure to compost the clippings.
Once you managed to treat and prepare the grass as well as possible, you can always reuse the nutrients for other areas of your garden.
A proper compost heap requires that you mix both brown and green materials. Grass clippings create the green part, so you will need to add brown materials, including dried leaves, twigs, branches, or paper.
When making compost, make sure you turn the grass clippings into the pile to prevent compaction and boost aeration.
Make Animal Feed
Freshly cut grass contains 18.2% of protein content and about 68% of digestible matter content – way more than hay, which contains about 59% digestive content on average. This nutritional content makes it excellent for your cattle.
In addition, freshly cut clippings make an excellent supplementary food source for sheep. Indeed, according to research, grass clippings supplemented with grain result in good daily weight gains and carcass traits at a more affordable cost per pound gained than conventional diets.
However, remember to avoid using chemically-treated grass clippings for this purpose, as they could harm your animals.
You can also take the grass for recycling at a local factory if you do not have enough space to keep it.
Better Choice in Conventionally Maintained Lawns
If you are constantly using synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides to maintain your lawn, here is a better alternative. Indeed, clippings do not break down effectively in such conditions, so leaving them on your lawn may do more harm than good.
For example, synthetic fertilizers tend to the salt content of the soil, which can reduce soil biology. It also lowers the soil microbial activity, killing the likes of earthworms that help with the decomposition by breaking down the clippings.
Bagging provides you with a clean, neatly mowed yard and better carb appeal without any clumps of grass. When you opt to bag what the mower takes off, you choose to display your law as you want it to appear.
If you have long grass, mowing the lawn will leave clumps of clippings thrown about. It makes your freshly trimmed lawn less appealing, especially when the grass dries out and forms brown patches. So, if you do not want these patches on the lawn, bag the grass and dump the clipping somewhere safe.
By doing this, you also minimize grass pollen and allergen in your yard.
Skip the Rake
If you have a lot of tree cover on your property, bagging the yard debris in the fall can save you lots of toil and trouble. Most trees shed their leaves in the fall, leaving a lot of litter in the yard.
Instead of collecting the litter with a rake, you can do so while mowing. You only need to strap the bag on the mover and clean up the leaves together with the grass clipping. It is much less labor-intensive and takes a considerably shorter time to complete, depending on the size of your yard.
Helps Fight Weeds and Pests
Bagging also comes in handy when you want to fight stubborn weeds, like crabgrass and dandelions. Mulching the grass clipping back on the lawn may breed the weeds, making them stronger.
For better protection, collect the grass, especially when mowing around when the weeds begin to seed. It will help minimize their chances of multiplying, so you have a better chance of winning against the few remaining ones.
If you want your lawn to be green and beautiful, you need to maintain it properly. Aside from regular watering and mowing, there are other steps that you can do to keep your lawn healthy, such as overseeding. If this is your first time hearing about this process, read our article to know what overseeding is and why you should do it.
Disadvantages of Bagging After Overseeding
However, there also are some downsides to bagging after overseeding, such as the following ones.
May Have Legal Consequences
While there is no law prohibiting bagging, you need to be careful when dumping the grass clippings. You are free to put the waste in your compost heap. However, if you will dispose of it anywhere, like in landfills, we recommend you check with your local authorities’ regulations. Some states are strict regarding what you can throw in landfills, and breaking this regulation may put you in serious trouble.
Costly and Time-Consuming
Again, you have two options for this project: collecting the chipping and putting them on your compost or dumping them in a landfill. You may not need a lot of money for the first option, but you will certainly spend energy and time. Most modern mowers come with bags, which reduces the filling time and effort. However, you will need to empty it at last.
If you are going to dump them somewhere other than your property, you will need to hire a professional. These people will charge you depending on various factors, like the market rate in your regions and the amount of grass you are disposing of.
After mowing, you leave lots of space for water runoff. While it allows aeration, it also reduces moisture retention in the soil. Thus, you allow direct sunlight to hit the ground, encouraging evaporation.
It may also encourage water runoff, especially where the terrain is a bit sloping. As a result, you may end up with infertile soil and a patchy lawn after heavy rainfalls.
You May Have to Rely on Artificial Fertilizers
Removing the grass clippings means that the lawn doesn’t benefit from the nutrients and water content as it does with mulching. So, you may have to rely on inorganic fertilizers and chemicals to maintain a healthy lawn. This may not be environmentally friendly and may be costly as you will have to purchase such products.
Like bagging, mulching the lawn after overseeding is an optional practice. However, you might want to do it for various reasons. Here are some of the probable pros and cons of mulching to help you decide whether to do it or not.
Advantages of Mulching After Overseeding
With mulching, you will enjoy the following benefits.
Clippings Act as Natural Fertilizer
Grass clippings are rich in nutrients, which they could pass on to the re-growing grass if you leave them in the yard. As they decompose, the clippings release phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen, which are essential nutrients that help your lawn stay healthy and attractive.
To get the best out of this and avoid thick thatches of grass clippings in your yard, make sure you maintain a reasonable grass-mowing height. Also, make sure not to wait too long before mowing the lawn. The rule of thumb in mowing is that you only chop a third of the grass blade, so you have to make this a consistent practice.
Re-introducing contributes about 1 lb. of the lawn’s yearly nitrogen requirements. Generally, a lawn requires about 4 lbs. of nitrogen per year. So, returning this nutrient content to the soil eliminates or lowers the need for manufactured fertilizers.
Boost the Organic Matter Content of the Soil
In most cases, gardeners do natural-based or organic lawn care programs to achieve a 5% organic matter in the soil, considering most lawns only contain about 2 or 3%. It can take you a very long time to achieve this level with all the methods available, including compost and mulching. So, if you want to get closer to 5%, there is no better time to begin than now.
Mulching also prevents direct sunlight from hitting the soil. As a result, it reduces evaporation and helps in moisture retention, a phenomenon that is highly beneficial in hot and dry weather.
Less Work and Budget-friendly
Bagging consumes a lot of time and effort, especially considering that you have to fill the bag and empty it at a specific site. With mulching, you do not need to do any of these. You only need to leave the clippings on the grass to break down. The best part is that this only takes a few days before your lawn gains back its fully green appearance.
Sometimes, you may also want to hire truckers to get your ‘garbage’ away from the property. These people charge a lot of money, depending on your state and the company you attribute the task to. Other times, you may also take the clippings considering the chemical pesticides that may contaminate the compost.
It Is Completely Legal
Yes, you read that right! You rub shoulders with the local authority anywhere for leaving your grass clipping on the yard.
On the other hand, some states prohibit dumping. Therefore, leaving the grass clipping all over the road can get you in trouble with local authorities. In such cases, you can’t even collect your grass clippings and dump them in a landfill. That is because dumping grass clipping in landfills is illegal in almost half of the U.S. states.
Besides the legal aspect, leaving your cut grass on the lawn is a great effort toward saving the environment. Consider that all the grass clippings make it to the landfill. It would take a very short time to exhaust the same. Plus, sometimes, you may carry nonbiodegradable objects like plastics with the grass, which could harm the environment.
If you do not have space for compost, it is better to mulch your lawn with the clippings.
Grass Is an Unexpected Hydrant
Grass is about 85% water, the balance compromising of nutrients. Therefore, besides feeding your re-growing grass with nutrients, the clippings also add some water content to the soil and hydrate the lawn.
When it is dry and hot in the summer, clippings may provide enough moisture to help your lawn service the harsh conditions. Although the water coming from the cut grass may not be enough, it will supplement what nature and you can provide to your lawn.
Disadvantages of Mulching After Overseeding
Now, here are the major disadvantages of mulching after overseeding.
You May Be Cultivation Weeds and Pests
Mulching the grass clippings means that you have to retain the good and the bad. So while you will be enjoying the benefits that come with decomposing grass, you may be replanting weed. The weeds may thrive in such conditions and reduce the quality of your lawn.
Mulching can also harbor certain diseases and pests by providing conducive breeding for the organisms responsible for such conditions. It might also help contain the existing pests and diseases, making other eradication efforts futile.
The piling and moisture content may also make for a perfect place for pollens and allergens to thrive. This may expose you and your family to serious health conditions, including allergic reactions.
May Not Be Ideal If You Do Not Mow Frequently
If you do not mow, you will have excessively tall grass after a while. In the same way, you may have excess grass clippings. Mulching with the entire waste may make thick layers that will suffocate the lawn and kill the grass. So, if you do not have time to mow every week, we recommend you bag your clippings to allow the re-growing grass enough aeration and space to thrive.
Might Require Specialized Equipment
There is a way out if you do not frequently cut the grass but want mulch. Mulching requires some exclusive conditions. So, if the grass is too long, you may need to grind the grass down into a tiny, more manageable size.
You will need specific blades for such purposes. As older mowers do not feature such blades or modes, you might want to acquire a modern mower if you want to achieve better results. Even with that, you must not grind the grass too much as to not interfere with the nutrient contents in it.
May Interfere with the Appearance of Your Lawn
It takes time for dying grass to break down and disappear from the surface. Throughout this process, your lawn will feature brown and green patches. This may create ugly sections in your yard every time you mow.
Do you find it challenging to keep your mulch in place until the following season? It is often a very frustrating situation, especially when you anticipate heavy rains soon. If you want your mulch to stay where it is, read our step-by-step guide to preventing mulch from washing away.
Should You Bag or Mulch After Overseeding?
Both mulching and bagging provide unique advantages and disadvantages that make one better than the other. The choice you make will depend on the above factors and your lawn goals.
For example, if you want a healthy, sustainable lawn while avoiding short-term alterations to its appearance, mulching is the best fit. On the other hand, if you favor every bit of the appearance after shaving your lawn, go for bagging.
Generally, you need to mow your lawn as often as possible. When doing so, you only want to cut a third of the existing blades of grass, as recommended. That way, you can always mulch with the grass clippings as they will always be enough not to harm the re-growing grass.
Plus, doing so saves you time and money as you do not have to collect the grass after mowing. It also brings about many biological benefits, including the addition of nutrients and moisture that your lawn needs to thrive.
However, you might opt for bagging if you have been using chemicals and synthetic pesticides on your lawn. And if you do not mow your lawn often enough and the grass cuttings accumulate, you’ll need to mulch your yard.