Dispelling Common Myths about Grasscycling

Myth 1: Going bagless causes thatch
  • Thatch is the accumulation of organic debris that are most resistant to decay, such as dead leaves, grass roots, stems, crowns found between the soil and the living green parts of your grass
  • Up to 2 cm of thatch is beneficial: it provides insulation to roots, reduces soil water evaporation, and can prevent soil compaction. However, thatch layers greater than 2 cm should be reduced
  • Although you'll find some grass clippings in the thatch layer, they usually don't contribute to thatch build up because soil microorganisms easily break them down
  • Samples taken from test lawns during an Edmonton pilot showed that proper grasscycling does not contribute to thatch growth
  • Thatch is composed mainly of roots. Excessive root growth from over-watering and over-fertilizing are the primary causes of thatch
  • Grass clippings are approximately 80-85% water, allowing them to break down rapidly
Myth 2: Going bagless looks unattractive / untidy
  • When cut properly (leaving grass to a height of 6-8 cm and only cutting off the top 1/3 of the blade) clippings fall between the blades and are virtually unnoticeable
  • Clumping may result from cutting wet grass or cutting more than 3-4 cm of the blade. Mowing the area again from a different direction will help dissipate the clump
  • Grass clippings disappear within 3 days after cutting. Grass clippings are approximately 80-85% water, allowing them to decompose rapidly. It will take slightly longer for clippings to break down later in the growing season as temperatures and moisture content of clippings drop
Myth 3: Going bagless spreads lawn disease
  • Going bagless hasn’t been found to contribute to disease incidence
  • Clippings contain nitrogen which supports soil microbes and a healthier lawn
  • Lawn disease can be caused by multiple factors: watering, fertilization, mowing, and soil compaction. Improper mowing can contribute to lawn disease
  • Removing too much of the grass blade can increase the susceptibility to several diseases by depleting food reserves in the plant, making it difficult for the grass to recover from stress and injury
  • Sharpening the mower blade allows a clean cut. Damaged grass is more susceptible to lawn disease
  • Adequately water the lawn. Single deep waterings (25 mm once every 7-10 days) are more effective and less wasteful than many light waterings
Myth 4: I need to mow more often
  • A lawn mowed at a lower height will require more frequent mowing than the same lawn would if mowed higher
  • Leaving the clippings on your lawn means no more bagging and dragging 50-60 bags of grass to the curb each year
  • By Going Bagless for one summer, you can save up to a full day of your time
Myth 5: I need a mulching mower to go bagless
  • No. Any lawn mower, including reel/push mowers, will do as long as you cut high
  • Simply remove the bag from your mower and raise the blades to the medium setting (on most mowers)
  • Keeping the mower blade sharp means grass will recover quickly when cut cleanly
Myth 6: I have to go bagless every time
  • You can't always go bagless. Prolonged wet weather or an infrequent mowing routine are situations where grass clippings should be bagged since you'll have long grass blades
  • It's OK to go bagless most of the time. It doesn't need to be every time you mow.  If you do need to bag your grass occasionally, please help your collector by keeping bags under 15kg
  • Keep your grass clippings! They're an excellent addition to a compost pile. They can also be used as mulch to provide weed control and prevent moisture loss around flowerbeds, trees and shrubs
Myth 7: Going bagless spreads dandelions
  • Dandelions will not spread more when you Go Bagless. The same amount of dandelion seeds are dispersed when bagging compared to leaving clippings on the lawn. This is because seeds are dispersed as soon as the blade cuts the grass regardless of whether there is a bag present or not
  • Going Bagless can help prevent and reduce dandelions because it results in a fuller, healthier and nutrient rich lawn, which leaves less room for dandelions to germinate and grow
  • Mowing high (cutting to a height of 6-8 cm or the height of your pinky) helps to choke out weeds because it prevents sunlight from allowing weed seeds to germinate. A low cut lawn is more susceptible to dandelions
  • Mowing often prevents dandelions from seeding and spreading