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Turf Tips for Homeowners
Recycling Grass Clippings
When you mow, return the grass clippings to the turf whenever possible. Mulching mowers are specifically designed to accommodate this procedure, but any mower can return clippings to the lawn. Grass clippings begin to break down quickly after mowing, releasing the water and nutrients contained in the tissue. The nutrients (particularly nitrogen) can be returned to the soil and used by the lawn. Recycling nutrients will reduce the total amount of nitrogen fertilizer needed by the turf each growing season.

Grass Clippings as Mulch 
Grass clippings can effectively be used as mulch for gardens or landscape beds. Be careful when placing the clippings around tender young plants-the clippings can heat up as they decompose, and this may injure young transplants. Also, refrain from using clippings for mulch that were recently treated with weed control products (herbicides). MSU research indicates that the herbicide can volatilize from clippings and injure sensitive plants such as tomatoes, beans and annual flowers. Allow at least two weeks after application of weed control products before using treated clippings as mulch.

Grass Clippings as Compost 
Grass clippings make an outstanding contribution to compost piles because of their high nutrient content. Efficient composting is accomplished by layering green material such as grass clippings, weeds or kitchen scraps with brown materials such as leaves and soil. The compost is a valuable resource for landscape and garden beds as a soil amendment or mulch.

Tree Leaves 
Raking, hauling, bagging and disposing of tree leaves has been an annual event for homeowners and turf managers for many years. MSU researchers have found that mowing these leaves back into the turf is an appropriate alternative. In these studies, more than 6 inches of tree leaves have been mulched into lawn turf. Several types of leaves have been used, such as oak and maple, with no adverse effects on lawn turf. Reports from professional turf managers who have been practicing this technique on golf courses and commercial turf have been positive. Homeowners interested in an alternative to raking leaves might want to try mowing them. A couple of passes with the mower breaks the leaves down into small pieces. The leaf residue will be evident after mowing, but it will sift into the turf within a few weeks and will be unnoticeable in the spring. You can even rake leaves that accumulate in planting beds, fence lines or other areas out into the lawn and mow them. For best results, use a mulching mower, raise your mowing height to better accommodate the tree leaves and mow when the leaves are dry.

Source: MSU Turfgrass Science

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