What is Mulching?
Mulching is a gardening technique wherein the soil is covered with mulches to improve its condition. Mulches are usually organic materials like barks and leaves.
In lawn care, mulching is done by double-cutting grass – a process during mowing wherein grass clippings are led back to the deck for re-cutting, then gets deposited back to the lawn as mulches.
How does Mulching work?
The process of mulching starts with mowing grass. Instead of the grass clippings getting dropped off or collected, it is kept in the air just above the cutting blades. After some time, it drops down the cutting blade for re-cutting. After the second cutting, a vacuum forces the grass clippings downwards into the lawn to serve as compost.
This process requires a special blade, which is commonly referred to as a mulching blade or 3-in-1 blade. Generally, this kind of blade can be used to bag, discharge, or mulch grass clippings. It’s a lot different than standard mowing blades.
Mulching blades are designed to have curved features, which enable it to bring trimmed grass back to the deck where it gets cut several more times before getting spread out into the lawn.
Unfortunately, this blade does not have the same lift and power as standard straight blades. It is also not recommended to be used in mowing overgrown grass to prevent clogging the deck.
Pros: Aside from mulching clippings well, it also has the ability to shred piles of fallen leaves that you can, might as well use as compost.
Cons: As stated above, mulching blades do not have the same power as standard blades. Because of this, mulching blades cannot perform as well as normal blades in mowing your lawn. It also dulls faster than a standard mowing blade, so you will need to sharpen it more often.
How to use Mulching Blades
- Replace your standard mowing blade with your mulching blades. However, do not use your mulching blade for mowing especially if your grass is relatively long. The best time to use it is during the second mowing, when the grass is not as high.
- Raise your deck a little higher.
- Drive it around your lawn to mulch grass or leaves.
- When finished, remove mulching blade and put your mowing blade back.
How often should I mulch?
In general, mulching can be done every week. However, it would be a great idea to alternate mowing and mulching to get the best result. Consider following this rule: Mulch twice, bag once.
Note: Do not mulch grass when it’s wet. It’s going to be harder to spread grass clippings because they have a tendency to stick to surfaces when wet.
Benefits of Mulching
Organic materials like grass clippings are rich in nutrients. They can serve as compost for plants and grass alike. With the process of mulching, grass clippings are being recycled to serve as compost and fertilizer for the lawn. It makes the breaking down and decomposition of clippings easier as they are reduced to smaller pieces. In a way, it maximizes the benefits of nitrogen that these clippings produce instead of wasting them. This also gives the turf a steady supply of organic fertilizer instead of being exposed to chemical fertilizers sold in the market.
Mulching also reduces tasks in relation to lawn maintenance like raking, collecting of grass clippings, and disseminating of fertilizer.
Wrong impressions about Mulching
Some people say mulching can cause thatch and moss, is this true?
Thatch can be caused by numerous factors such as grass type, overwatering, and aggressive mowing, but never by mulching. It’s true that mulching encourages clippings into the soil, but it does not accumulate like thatches for they break down and decompose easily bringing back the nutrients to the soil.
Mosses, on the other hand, are caused by poor soil conditions and lack of sunlight. It can be brought upon by poor lawn maintenance and rare lawn mowing.
For what’s it worth, mulching actually helps to prevent these kinds of things from invading your lawn. Mulching is a great way to maintain the length of your grass and improve the condition of your soil.
Frequently asked Questions about Mulching
Q: Can I mulch with a standard mowing blade?
A: No. A standard blade does not have the ability to re-cut grass clippings into tinier pieces. The process of mulching requires a mulching blade. But if you don’t have one, you can opt to just leave your grass clippings after mowing. Just don’t leave piled up overgrown grass clippings on your lawn; this might have an opposite effect than your desired result.
Q: Why can’t I mulch when the lawn is wet?
A: It’s already a bad idea to mow your lawn when it’s wet, but mulching grass when it’s wet is worse. Aside from getting an uneven cut, mulching when grass is wet may lead to failure to deposit the clippings back on the soil. The grass clippings will clump together and stick on surfaces; this may result to a clogged lawn mower or clumped and suffocating mulches.
Q: Is it ideal to mulch as much as I can?
A: Mulching is good for your grass, but anything that is done excessively can be bad. Leaving a thick layer of mulch on the soil can suffocate your lawn; this will hinder your grass to absorb nutrients and sunlight from the soil. Again, a good rule to follow when mulching is “mulch twice, bag once”. You can do it alternately to give time for the mulch to break down and decompose.
Q: Why is mulching a good alternative for fertilizer?
A: During mulching, grass clippings are recycled to serve as compost for your lawn. These grass clippings contain nutrients that it absorbed from the soil. This is a way to give back the nutrients back to the soil. Aside from that, clippings can be an abundant source of nitrogen – this is an element many grass types require to thrive.