To Mulch or to Bag: The Great Grass Clippings Debate

Lawn care isn’t exactly a hotbed of controversy, but if there is one point of debate or disagreement, it’s the ever-lasting argument on whether to mulch or bag your grass clippings after mowing. After speaking to several industry professionals and scouring the web for commentary and research, we’ve come to the conclusion that in general, it’s significantly better to mulch your grass clippings, with some exceptions. Let’s take a look at these exceptions and go into detail about the benefits of mulching your grass clippings.

When to Bag

bagging grass

While leaving your grass clippings is the way to go 95% of the time, there are a few scenarios where bagging and disposing of them makes sense.

When your grass is overgrown (several inches tall) or your lawn mower is producing large clumps of cut grass, it’s best to bag the grass clippings. Grass clumps can rot, promote disease on your lawn, and kill live grass by blocking its access to sunlight and oxygen.

Additionally, you’ll want to bag your grass clippings on the first mow of the season. Thatch, dead grass, and debris accumulate on your lawn during the winter months; the first mow of the season often brings all of that unwanted material to the surface. Bag it and dispose of it to ensure that your lawn is free of debris and has access to the air and sunlight it needs to grow properly.

The Benefits of Mulching

mulching grass

Now that we’ve gone over the two instances where bagging your grass makes sense, it’s worth restating that it’s almost always a good idea to mulch your grass clippings. There are several significant benefits to leaving your grass clippings on the ground, all of which will result in a healthier, greener lawn during the summer months (with some added environmental and time-saving benefits as well).

  • Mulching your grass clippings allows nitrogen, an important nutrient that encourages green growth in your grass, to seep back into your lawn. Grass clippings can provide up to 25% of your lawn’s annual nutritional (nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous) needs. To read more about these nutrients, check out our [previous blog post](

  • Grass clippings help with moisture retention and can give your lawn an added water boost.

  • On average, you’ll save about 15 – 30 minutes each lawn mowing session by leaving the grass clippings on your lawn.

  • Mulching considerably reduces your environmental impact because you aren’t needlessly sending valuable organic material to a landfill like you do when you bag your grass.

How to Mulch for Maximum Efficacy

Now that we’ve established that mulching is generally a good idea, it’s worth noting that there is a right way and a wrong way to mulch.

When you’re mowing your lawn, take off only the top 1/3rd of the grass blade. As we’ve stated before, taking off more than that can lead to clumping and generate rot, disease, and other unwanted consequences for your lawn.

What Yardly Does

On the first mow of the season, Yardly bags the clippings to ensure that unwanted buildup, debris, and thatch are removed from your lawn’s surface. After that, Yardly mulches your grass on each subsequent mow to maximize the amount of nutrients and water it receives. Customers can however, request their clippings to be bagged (but not disposed of) at no extra charge.

Comments? Questions? We LOVE hearing from our readers so please use the comment section below or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter and let’s get to talking!

Nenad Dumanovic

Nenad Dumanovic worked for Yardly, the Lawn Care and Snow Removal Service Platform, as an Operations Coordinator. Read his posts for insights to maintaining the perfect lawn and property.