Mulching Away

It isn’t often that I get to use the bon mot “au contraire”, but last week presented the perfect opportunity when my lawn-should-look-like-carpet nosy neighbor poked his nose over the fence and said “getting a little lazy there, leaving all of them grass clippings on the lawn.” 

I stopped pushing my manual reel mower, turned, raised an eyebrow and said “au contraire, Fred” and proceeded to explain the wonders of mulch.

There are two basic techniques for mulching. The kind I was practicing on the lawn is known as lazy or accidental mulching. The grass is cut, falls onto the ground and in a couple of days has begun to break down and replenish the soil. It also keeps the ground cooler by inhibiting evaporation, leaving my grass greener with less water. 

The second type of mulching is directed mulching; taking straw, leaves, bark, or wood chips and spreading them around the bases of plants or on the paths of the garden specifically to deter the growth of weeds, and to provide nutrients to the plants. This takes a little more work that just leaving your clippings on the lawn, but it is a environmentally sound way of controlling weeds, and giving your plants a boost. 

By far the biggest benefit of mulching is keeping leaves and grass clippings out of the landfill. On average 10%- 20% of landfill wastes are grass clippings, and in some communities that number jumps to 50% in the summer! So Fred, I’m not “lazy”, I’m performing a public service for the greater good. So there.