Using Grass Clippings as Mulch for Your Lawn
Mulching is an inexpensive and simple way to protect and care for the soil. During mulching, you need to cover the surface of the soil with any suitable material, especially near planted plants and around trees.
The grass is the most accessible material used for mulching. There is probably no such garden where it could not grow. Gardeners constantly struggle with it – cut it, weed it out with roots or etch it out with herbicides. Meanwhile, the wise use of weeds can not only increase the yield but also make life easier for the gardener.
What Is the Purpose of Mulching?
Mulching is done for the following reasons:
- The soil remains moist and friable longer.
- The roots of plants are not subjected to overcooling and overheating, that is, the temperature balance is maintained.
- Nutrients in the soil are not washed away.
- On the surface of the soil, there is no hard crust.
- The weeds die, especially the annuals, and the weed that grows through the mulch is easier to remove.
- Berries and vegetables do not have contact with the soil, so they remain clean.
- Earthworms propagate better under the mulch, which has a beneficial effect on the condition of the fertile soil layer.
- If the mulch has decorative properties, then the garden looks very neat.
All the above properties of mulch give the gardener the opportunity to rest more, and not work constantly on the flower beds. Mulching substances can be organic and inorganic. Each of them is very good, the most important thing is the correct choice of the field of application of a mulch, as some kinds are suitable only for vegetable beds, and other kinds are good only for flower beds.
Do not try to start mulching in the spring as early as possible, it is better to wait for a good warming up of the soil. Under mulch, the soil temperature is always slightly lower. If you cover up the unheated soil, then this factor will not benefit the plants, they will lag behind in growth.
Organic mulch at the end of the summer season will be an excellent fertilizer, it is necessary only after harvesting, in autumn, embed its remains in the vegetable beds. This will improve the structure of the soil and enrich it with nutrients.
How to Make a Mulch
To prepare a quality mulch you need:
- A mature compost – 1 part
- Shredded waste from the garden – 2 parts
- Stone flour, wood ash or algal limestone – very little
All the ingredients should be mixed well, then cover the soil with the mulch making a layer from 5 to 10 cm.
What Crops Can Be Mulched with Grass
Grass, weeded or mown, is well-suited for filling potato plots – instead of hilling. In a loose and thick layer, the tubers feel great and quickly fill. Weeding is not required at all. In autumn, there is no need to even dig such a bed – just raise the mulching layer and you’ll see clean potatoes on top.
The freshly mown grass is great for mulching tree trunks and berry bushes. Only remember that in late autumn the remnants of this grass mulch should be removed since insects-pests can settle in it for wintering. Ideally, the grass lying under the bushes in summer is burned or laid in compost, and a new grass is laid on its place.
Autumn mulching with grass protects the roots of perennial plants from early frosts when the snow has not yet fallen out and the soil can freeze to great depth. Unlike polyethylene films, roofing materials, and other similar elements, often used by gardeners for these purposes, the grass does not create a too dense and airtight layer, which can become a cause of obstruction during winter thaws.
Mulching with grass is also suitable for beds with carrots, especially when root crops begin to form. The younger the shoots, the less you need to cut the mulching material. The grass clippings in the garden can lie on carrot beds the first frost, especially if late harvesting of roots is planned.
Cut grass is not good for mulching cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, peppers, and cabbage – they are too easily infected with various rot.
Pros and Cons of Using Grass as Mulch
If the grass is freshly cut, then it should be at least slightly dried before use as mulch. Otherwise, rotting may begin in it, especially in wet weather. There is also a possibility that slugs will settle in fresh grass.
Applying cut grass, you must carefully monitor that it does not have plants with seeds or such that can fade and mature already being cut. Otherwise, at best, these seeds will ascend directly into the mulching layer. And at worst, they will remain in the soil in order to grow in abundance next year.
In summer, grass mulch is quickly processed by soil microorganisms. In warm and humid weather, it takes only a few weeks for this. Therefore, the layer of mulch should be added in time and maintained at a thickness of 5–8 cm.
Before mulching with the grass, it is necessary to conduct a special preparation for the beds – remove all the weeds that emerged, loosen the soil, and water abundantly. Only after that, you can put a mulching layer, which should be at least 3 cm. If you neglect this rule, then the soil under the mulch will remain as it was – dense and dry. A too thin layer of grass, which falls down quite loose, without much difficulty will be overcome by tenacious weeds.
However, mulching grass has its own cons. First of all, this mulch is very rich in worms and various insects. It attracts birds that fly from all around. It is also a great refuge for mice and rats, which not only can spoil the harvest but also chew on young trees. Applying the grass, you have to deal with these uninvited lodgers as well. If the grass is too contaminated with parasites, it’s better to destroy it. You can find many useful tips on how to decompose grass clippings efficiently.
With caution, you should use grass mulch in greenhouses. Some pests, such as a spider mite, getting there with freshly mown grass, multiply rapidly, taking advantage of the absence of their natural enemies. Therefore, it is better to dry the green grass until it becomes hay and then use it to cover the beds. There are many ways of how to dry grass so you can choose the one that suits you best.