How To

How to Mulch Your Lawn Properly?

Garden friends keep asking themselves: mulching or catching? Should they chop up the grass clippings and spread them over the area, or should they be disposed of on the compost? The answer to this question is tending towards mulching because it offers numerous advantages.

What does mulching mean?

When mulching, the lawn is covered with a layer of non-rotted organic material. For this, the vegetable residues that are obtained when cutting the grass are used. The shredded blades of grass remain on the mown surface and fall on the top layer of soil over time. Here they are decomposed by microorganisms, beetles and earthworms so that humus is created.

Tips

With a mulching mower, you can do two steps in one step. The device shreds the blades of grass and then spreads them over the surface.

So you mulch properly

To properly mulch the lawn requires regularity in addition to the appropriate preparation. If you consider the sequence of measures within a season, you can enjoy a lush green lawn throughout the growing season.

Preparation for mulching

Wait for the lawn to slowly wake up from hibernation. The blades of grass should be seven to eight centimeters in length by the time you mow it. If you do this too soon, you will endanger the health of the lawn. The stalks can easily be damaged and no longer grow healthy.

You shouldn’t wait too long with the first mowing either, because then the mower will no longer come through the lawn, even at the maximum adjustable cutting height. The period between March and April is ideal for the first mowing. The clippings are disposed of so that the lawn gets enough light.

Scarify and fertilize

You can scarify the mowed lawn so that it grows faster. This will remove weeds and thatch so that the turf will be better ventilated. Sprinkle some fertilizer on the lawn to cover the nutritional needs of the freshly growing plants. If necessary, you can add lime to the lawn if the pH is no longer in the optimal range.

Spread every two to three years:

  • 200 grams on sandy soils
  • 400 grams on loamy soils
  • 150 grams on acidic soils

Cutting height

As soon as the blades of grass have again reached a length of between six and eight centimeters, you can drive on the lawn with a mulching mower. Then adjust the cutting knife so that the plants are reduced by a third of their height. If your lawn is six centimeters high, you should shorten it to three to four centimeters.

Tips

Never cut the grass shorter than three centimeters.

to water

The mulched lawn also has to be watered every now and then. However, the lawn sprinkler should only be switched on once a week so that the mulch layer does not get too wet. If there is no rain for a long time, so that the soil dries out slowly, you should water the lawn two to three times a week depending on the intensity of the heatwave. To ensure that the soil is properly moistened, you should let the sprinkler run for at least half an hour.

Mulching later in the year

After the first mulching in the year, the grass should have grown back to a certain height before the next maintenance measure is carried out. The location plays an important role in this. The more sun shines on the lawn, the lower the blades of grass can be before cutting again. As a rule of thumb, an optimal height of six centimeters applies to heavily sunbathed areas. The blades of grass should have grown about eight centimeters high on shady lawns.

Mulch or mow the lawn?

Some hobby gardeners swear by mulching. Other nature lovers stick to the lawn and will never try mulching. There is no general answer as to which method is more suitable. The question of yes or no depends on the respective location and the nature of the soil. The lawn itself also decides whether mulching or mowing is more suitable.

While mulching is proving increasingly positive for the vitality of the lawn, mowing with a normal lawnmower has to assert itself against numerous disadvantages more and more frequently. When mowing the lawn, the clippings are collected in a collecting basket and composted. This removes valuable nutrients from the area, which later has to be supplied by expensive fertilizers. If you do not regularly fertilize, the grass can no longer develop magnificently. The turf becomes patchy and unwanted mosses and plants spread across the area.

These are the advantages of mowing:

  • The time required: larger mowing interval when doing without mulching
  • Appearance: Lawn appears clean and well-kept
  • Suitability: only mow heavy and sandy soils, not mulch
  • Natural fertilizer: grass clippings can be composted

Which material is suitable for mulching?

For the lawn, the lawn cut is ideal for mulching due to its nature and ingredients. If leaves have accumulated on the surface, you do not necessarily have to remove them. When mowing with a suitable device, the plant parts are cut up with the lawn cut and distributed over the area. This combination improves the nutrient balance in the soil. Falling branches and pieces of bark and straw are not suitable for mulching lawns.

strawdried leavesBark, branches and twigsgrass clippings
structureroughporousrough, firmfine
degree of decompositionmediumhighlowhigh
nutrientcarboncarboncarbonnitrogen

Tips

Be careful when picking up leaves from the street. The leaves can contain toxic heavy metals that accumulate in your lawn.

When should you mulch?

The lawn is mulched for the first time in spring. It is important that the blades of grass have reached a certain length so that they do not damage the plants unnecessarily and can sprout them again. The weather is also important. Choose a cloudy but dry day to work the lawn. This will save the plant’s stress from heat.

Why a wet lawn is not mulched:

  • the clippings clump together when it rains
  • Putrefaction processes can arise
  • Lawn becomes bald
  • Reseeding is necessary

How often do you have to mulch?

After the first mulching, regular maintenance measures are required. If you mow and mulch the surface at irregular intervals, too many clippings remain on the surface. Lumps of grass can quickly form, which in some places negatively affect the growth of the plants. It is, therefore, necessary to mulch the lawn at least 21 times in spring, summer and autumn of the year. The ideal interval between the care measures is seven to eight days.

BACKGROUND

Mulching saves time

In conventional lawn mowing, garden enthusiasts have so far made do with 17 mowing appointments per year. Although you have to work the area more often when mulching, you save time. Mulching can be done in 80 percent of the same time, because when you mow you lose a lot of time by regularly emptying the grass catcher. Researchers at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna have established this through a long-term study.

Why is it useful to mulch the lawn?

Whether mulching is good or bad is often a matter of controversy. In the meantime, numerous disadvantages of mulching have been overcome. If you mulch a surface regularly and correctly, you will give your lawn vital health. It looks stronger and shines in juicier shades of green than unmulched lawn. Mulching helps against weeds and against moss because the turf develops more densely.

benefitsdisadvantage
closed nutrient cyclefaster growth through increased nutrient availability
Fertilizer costs are savedfrequent mowing necessary
Protection against ground frost and drying out in the heatThe lawn must be dry
Soil organisms are more activeMulching mowers are more expensive than lawnmowers
no species shift

Which devices are suitable for mulching?

There are numerous devices that are suitable for mulching. The robotic lawnmower has proven to be unbeatable because it works continuously and independently. However, since it cannot be used on all surfaces without restrictions, many hobby gardeners have to resort to other devices.

Mulching with a cylinder mower

A cylinder mower works with knife spindles in which four to six blades are arranged horizontally and bent. The device is operated by hand and works without electricity and petrol. As soon as you start the cylinder mower, the spindle rotates and pushes past a fixed counter blade. If a blade of grass gets caught between the blades, it is cut off. The devices do not have a collecting basket, so the cut blades of grass immediately land on the lawn.

This distinguishes the cylinder mower:

  • enables significantly deeper cuts
  • cuts precisely
  • protects the lawn

Mulching mower

With these devices, the grass clippings are not collected in a grass catcher. Mulching mowers have two cutting units. You cut the blades of grass and then shred them with the help of specially shaped blades. Some models have mulching knives with several cutting edges, which are arranged on different levels. The airflow that swirls the cut blades of grass is created in a mulch bell. This ensures that the plant parts are cut several times and optimally shredded. The fine remnants are worked into the turf during mowing.

Mulching kit for normal lawnmowers

Depending on the manufacturer, you can upgrade different lawn mowers with a mulching kit. Most kits contain special mulching knives that can be exchanged for the normal knives in the lawnmower. Some kits also include a plastic container. After the special blades have been installed, you can use the lawnmower with or without a grass catcher.

In order to mulch the lawn directly with the mowing process, the grass catcher is omitted. You remain flexible and can also use the lawnmower in its original function with a basket. The mulching knives also prove to be advantageous here, because the grass volume is reduced considerably by the shredding.

Lawn Mower

The little helpers prove to be perfect tools for mowing and mulching at the same time. The mowing interval can be set manually depending on the model. The distances between the mower units should not be too large because the robotic lawnmower quickly reaches its limits if the grass is too high. The knives only cut off the tips of the blades of grass so that they fall to the ground and create an ideal layer of mulch. The small size of the clippings ensures rapid decomposition.

Good to know:

  • Robotic lawnmowers should be cleaned once a week
  • some models pause automatically when it rains
  • yellow tips are avoided by a precise cut

Frequently asked Questions

When do I have to mulch my freshly sown lawn?

When you should mulch your newly created lawn for the first time depends on numerous factors such as the time of sowing, light supply and lawn type. The stalk height is a good guideline that you can use as a guide. Sports and game turf are mulched for the first time from a height of 70 to 80 millimeters. Ornamental lawns can grow 80 to 85 millimeters high. When creating a new shade lawn, the grasses should be between 90 and 100 millimeters high.

When do I have to water my lawn after mulching?

You should water your lawn at the latest when the wilting point begins. You can recognize this point in time by the fact that the leaves of the grass slowly curl up and fade.

Is it true that mulching suffocates the lawn?

This prejudice has since been refuted. Studies have shown that the soil organisms under a mulch layer are 40 percent more active. Mulching, therefore, increases breathing performance in the top layer of soil.

Can I mulch my lawn despite weeds?

Mulching helps against weeds because the fine layer of organic materials robs the seeds of light for germination. Mulching only works against fungi if properly implemented. An excess supply of nitrogen and water promotes fungal growth.

Can I mulch the lawn without special equipment?

If you shorten the lawn with a normal lawnmower and collect the clippings, you should not spread it directly over the area. The lawn cut is often too coarse and already clumped. Let the material rot on the compost.

Do I have to fertilize the lawn after mulching?

The lawn does not normally need to be fertilized because the grass clippings decompose and the nutrients get into the soil. However, fresh composting does not harm the lawn.

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