Grasscycling: “Don’t Bag It!”*
Grasscycling means leaving grass clippings on the lawn to decompose into soil.
Mow grass at the proper height and disperse the grass clippings down to the soil.
Water grass only as needed—about 1 inch of water once a week.
Fertilize grass with slow-release fertilizers as needed to correct deficiencies.
• Makes turf greener and tougher
• Prevents common turf diseases
• Reduces lawn fertilizer requirements
• Does not cause thatch—in fact, helps prevent it
• Reduces total time spent mowing and maintaining your lawn
• Cuts down on watering needs and costs
• Eliminates disposal of grass clippings (and sometimes leaves too)
Grasscycling Guidelines: Mowing
The key to grasscycling is to mow at the proper height and dispense the small grass clippings evenly so they fall down to the soil. Mowing grass too short causes stress, discourages deep root growth, and results in rapid loss of soil moisture. Letting grass grow too tall between mowing causes excess grass clippings that smother the turf and take a long time to break down.
You do not need a special mulching mower. However, grasscycling results may be improved by using one, or by replacing a standard mower blade with a mulching blade, and by covering a mower’s outlet spout.
• Raise the mowing height during the hot and dry season. A higher setting reduces moisture loss and encourages deep root growth.
• Mow often enough that each mowing removes no more than one-third of the grass blade; for example, if you set your cutting height at 2 inches, then cut before the grass is more than 3 inches tall.
• Keep mower blades sharp and clean, and mow when the grass is dry.
• Mow over leaves so they will decompose along with grass clippings.
• Collect leaves and grass clippings for mulching or composting when they are too heavy or too wet for grasscycling.
Grasscycling Guidelines: Watering
Grasscycling reduces the amount and frequency of watering. Watering too heavily or too often weakens the turf and causes erosion and runoff pollution.
• Water when footprints across the lawn remain visible or when it is difficult to push a screwdriver into the turf.
• Water deeply (6-inch penetration or deeper). Apply approximately 1 inch of water once a week. Water slowly enough to avoid runoff.
• To measure your sprinkler application, plan an empty 6-ounce tuna can on your lawn. Stop watering when it is full.
Grasscycling Guidelines: Fertilizing
Excess fertilization weakens roots, increases watering needs, causes thatch and excessive growth, and pollutes waterways. The Rockwall County Extension Office can help you analyze your soil and recommend fertilizers and application schedules.
• Grasscycling provides about 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn per year. Some people find that grasscycling completely eliminates the need for synthetic lawn fertilizers.
• Slow-release nitrogen sources such as compost, blood meal, sulfur-coated urea, and urea formaldehyde help lawns grow at a moderate, even pace. Avoid using quick-release fertilizers.
• Gently water your lawn after applying fertilizers. Never wait for a rainstorm to water in your fertilizer—in most cases, the rain will fall too rapidly for the fertilizer to be absorbed, and much of it will wash into roadway gutters and local waterways.
This fact sheet is available as a PDF download. Grasscycling
*Don’t Bag It is a program created by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.