You may have heard that the City of Edmonton is considering ways to deal with grass and other yard waste to achieve its goal of 90% diversion of residential waste from landfill. One proposal that spooked many was to ban the pick up of grass clippings left on the curb. Although the City of Edmonton recently decided to continue picking up grass clippings in 2018 pending the results of public engagement, it is unlikely this will be the case in the future.
So why is there such a panic about not being able to bag your grass clippings? After all, the alternative - mulching - carries many benefits that outweigh the supposed virtues of bagging. This post explores five key reasons to mulch your lawn.
What is Mulching?
Mulching, or mulch mowing, is the process of returning grass clippings to the soil. This is done by removing the bag from your mower, which leaves the grass clippings on the lawn while mowing your grass. While on the ground, soil microorganisms break down the grass clippings, releasing nutrients such as nitrogen back into the soil. This ensures healthy lawn growth. As reported by CBC, mulching is done best by cutting the grass to a height of 2.5 to 3 inches. However, mulching is not recommended if your grass is taller than 6 inches, as excessively long clippings can mat and smother your lawn.
With this in mind, let's take a look at five reasons you should consider mulching your lawn.
1. Healthy Lawn
As mentioned, mulching returns much needed nutrients back to the soil of your lawn. Mulched clippings, which are 85% water and 5% nitrogen, contain nutrients which can provide up to 25% of the fertilization needs for an average lawn. Mulching also helps reduce the evaporation of moisture from the soil and cools down soil temperature, keeping more moisture in the ground.
2. Saves Time
Mulching removes the need to dispose of accumulated grass clippings while mowing. Anyone who has mowed a lawn before can attest to how much time is lost in dealing with grass clippings during a mow. Whether it's bagging the clippings or running to a green bin, it takes time. In addition, the preservation of moisture and the slow evaporation of water from mulching reduces the need to water your lawn. The City of Edmonton estimates that all of this time saved over one summer can save you a full day of work.
3. Saves Money
Mulching enables you to save money in a few ways. First, the fertilization role mulching plays can help you save buying fertilization for your lawn in the long run. Second, mulching saves you the cost of buying bags to collect grass clippings and any extra costs yard care providers and local governments may charge for bag collection. Third, mulching can reduce your water bill, since the added moisture from the mulched clippings reduces the need to water your lawn.
4. Environmentally Friendly
Grass clippings account for a significant part of a Edmonton's waste, comprising approximately one half of yard waste during the summer. The City of Edmonton estimates that if every Edmonton household mulched, the CO2 emissions saved would equal the annual CO2 emissions of 27,166 cars.
5. Reduces the Burden on Local Government
With less waste for disposal, local governments can mitigate their costs and offer better value services to ratepayers. This problem is particularly acute for local governments which have overflowing landfill, such as Edmonton.
"But What About Thatch?!"
Thatch is dead grass, leaves, stems, and other organic material that accumulate just above the soil. While some thatch is good for the lawn, too much will create a barrier that will prevent proper drainage and prevent oxygen and nutrients from reaching the root system. Thatch should naturally decay, but sometimes there can be an excess of thatch that can severely damage the lawn. Therefore, the argument is that by mulching your lawn, the grass clippings contribute to thatch.
The problem with this view is that the grass clippings released from mulching are broken down by soil microorganisms. They do not add to thatch. What primarily causes thatch is excessive root growth from over-watering and over-fertilizing. These problems cannot be laid at the feet of mulching. Provided you do not mulch overgrown lawn, you should view mulching as something that helps, not hinders, your lawn.
Whether or not Edmonton or any other local government bans the pick up of your green waste, there is every reason to mulch your lawn this summer.
At Yardly, we actively promote the mulching of your lawn by offering a mulching discount for weekly lawn mowing. Haven't organized weekly lawn mowing for your yard this year? Booking is now available on the Yardly website for the Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg areas.