By Michelle Macha

I never really gave grass a second thought until I became a property owner. Then the journey of maintaining a yard began: What kind of mower do I need? How often do I water? What fertilizer do I use? How do I get rid of all the weeds? How to get rid of gophers? And the list grows every summer.

Now, I think about grass more than I probably should or care to admit. One question that I run into frequently is  – Should I bag my grass clippings?

There are many benefits to bagging grass, just as there are many benefits to traditional mulching. But before I get too far into the weeds, let me answer two simple questions for you.

1 – What is bagging?

2 – What is mulching?

Bagging is quite literally the bagging up of unwanted grass clippings that shoot out from a lawnmower. Mulching is the process of depositing the grass clippings back into the ground as the grass is mowed.

This is what a bag of grass clipping looks like. (I know, super exciting stuff.) These were gathered using a John Deere Bagger Kit for 48" Deck, attached to a John Deere ZTrak™ mower.

So, what are the benefits of using a bagging system?

The most obvious benefit of bagging is to get rid of unwanted grass clippings. It can also be used to eliminate other naturally occurring material from a yard, such as stickers, leaves and sticks.

When bagging, you can also go longer in between mowing cycles. Since the grass is automatically caught in the bagger, you don’t have to worry about making a mess of your yard or sidewalks with stray clippings blowing everywhere.

There are also benefits to mulching your grass. If you are wanting a lush, thick yard, mulching is for you. The process of mulching finely chops the grass clippings and puts them back into the yard, which creates a barrier to help retain moisture. The mulch also serves as a natural fertilizer for the grass. Mulching also helps reduce thatching, but that’s a conversation for another day.

One downside to mulching is that it needs to be done more frequently so the clippings are not too long or thick. If the grass grows too long, the clippings will not fall into the cut grass, making your yard appear messy. Another factor to think about is if your yard gets wet, you will track more grass into the house with a mulched yard. Kids or dogs in the house, anyone?

The grass above was overdue for a mow, which you can see by the amount of mulched grass sitting above the surface.

For me, the answer to if I should bag my grass or not was easy. I went with a bagger kit for my John Deere mower because, as a mother of twins, I don’t have a lot of extra time to worry about the yard. And even more so, I tend to let the yard grow out longer than I should before mowing.