The Pryor Times

Agriculture

May 9, 2014

Grass clippings are good

PRYOR, OK — OSU Extension Service

Special to Pryor Times

Oklahoma State University's cooperative extension service is about grass.

At a recent environmental law enforcement training course OSU's Lynn Malley talked about waste management.

“From March to October, grass clippings increase the volume of residential solid waste 20 to 50 percent. Some landfills may ban yard waste,” said Malley. “A mulching lawnmower is a good alternative to land filling. You can help reduce this needless waste by following the 'Don't Bag It' lawn care plan.”

Malley said the “Don't Bag It” saves time, energy and money.

“Experience with the 'Don't Bag It' shows annual mowing time reduced by up to one-third by not bagging clippings,” said Malley. “You save energy because your mower will be easier to push with no heavy grass-filled bag attached.”

The plan, Malley said, uses fewer garbage bags, keeps garbage bills lower and extends landfill life, all saving money.

Grass clippings that are returned to the lawn rapidly decompose at the grass-roots level, said Malley. So returning grass clippings to the lawn improves water-use efficiency, recycles plant nutrients and gives lawns a more uniform green color.

“The mowing plan starts with setting up your lawn mower. You don't have to have a mulching mower, however a mulching kit installed on your mower, or a new mulching mower, chops grass blades very fine and often improves lawn appearance,” said Malley, who suggested talking to a mower dealer about a mulching kit.

“The rule of thumb for mowing is to remove no more than one-third of the leaf blade,” Malley said, as stated in the resource material she provided to the class. “You may mow more often, but experience with  'Don't Bag It' shows that annual mowing time is reduced by about one-third.”

Different types of grass, Malley said, should be mowed at different heights. Common Bermuda or Buffalo grass should be mowed at three inches, Hybrid Bermuda or Zoysia should be mowed at one and a half inches and Tall Fescue, Bluegrass or Ryegrass should be mowed at four inches.

“Grass clippings left on your lawn will not contribute to thatch. Thatch is caused by tough runners, rhizomes, and roots,” said Malley, dispelling a common misconception.

“In Oklahoma landfills, 20 percent of the waste is from yard debris that consists of grass clippings, leaves, and woody branches. To lower future garbage costs, we need to reduce yard waste going into landfills,” said Malley. “Some landfills may ban yard waste. Mulching tree limbs is a good alternative to landfilling.”

Malley said tree limbs and branches can be chipped for use as mulch or for making pathways and leaves are best handled through composting.

“A two-inch layer of wood chips shades the soil, reducing weed seed germination,” said Malley.

Bare soil, Malley said, absorbs a high percentage of heat from the sun. Wood chips absorb very little of the sun's radiant energy, reflecting this heat back into the air.

“Tests have shown that a mulched soil can be as much as 30 degrees cooler than bare soil,” said Malley.

For more information about the “Don't Bag It” program contact your county Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Office, or watch Oklahoma Gardening on OETA Saturday's at

11 a.m or Sundays at 3:30 p.m.

 

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