Catching vs. Mulching

Both approaches to lawn mowing have their advantages.

June 24, 2003

Whether to use a grass-catching mower to collect clippings or go the mulching route and leave clippings on the ground is a choice every lawn maintenance contractor must make. In many situations, climate or turf type dictates the choice. Collection is preferable in many northern areas since excess moisture in cool-season turf can clog mulching machines. On the other hand, contractors in the south have no such problems, so mulching is a viable option.

Beyond turf type, contractors have a few other factors to consider in the mulching/catching debate. The following points were provided by Ruthanne Stuckey, marketing director, The Grasshopper Co., Moundridge, Kan., to help contractors weigh their turf management options.

Advantages of mulching include:

  • Nutrients are kept in the soil, which reduces the need for fertilizer.
  • Moisture in the clippings is kept in the soil instead of taken away, thus reducing the need for water. Leaving the moisture in the soil through mulching is especially important during hot, dry weather.
  • Mulching eliminates the need to dispose of clippings which is especially significant in areas where ordinances dictate their disposal and wehre these is a cost involved when disposing of clippings.
  • Advantages of grass collection include:

  • Clippings, leaves, trash, sticks and other debris can all be picked up simultaneously while mowing. No matter how much trash or unsightly debris was on the lawn before mowing, the lawn is left pristine every time without worry of leaving trash behind as may happen when simply mulching.
  • Where there are no ordinances regarding clipping disposal grass catching mowers are easy to empty and require less extra labor than raking up clumps of cluppings.
  • For clients, clippings are an excellent source of compost for use in gardens, nurseries, etc.
  • The author is Assistant Editor of Lawn and Landscape magazine and can be reached at