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Guys I know this is talked about at nauseum among lawn lovers, but want everyone's opinion on the matter and their reasons?

For what it's worth, I'm strictly in the "mulching" corner. But I am wondering, over time, does mulching pave the way for excessive thatch build up? this afternoon I had to use a spring tined rake to to a light de-thatch (terrible time of the year to do it) as my bermuda has become spongy and the thatch build up is visible. Now I think this is mainly due to error my my behalf. You see the clutch cable on my mower broke a couple of months ago (just as my lawn was looking it's absolute best and I was maintaining it at 6mm (.24")). I needed to wait 4 weeks for a replacement cable to be made up so even though I have a backup reel, it's not the same as my "regular drive" and I had to mow at just over 1". When I got my mower up and running again, bringing it down was an issue and I had patches of brown everywhere. To try and rectify the issue quickly I used a 46-0-0 high grade urea that we have made up on the farm for a quick green up and the lawn just went crazy. Even mowing every other day I still wasn't able to bring it back down to the height before the clutch cable snapped (I'm currently at .4").

So I think this is the major reason behind the thatch build up, but I was wondering if the constant mulching has also had an effect over time?

Thoughts and opinions would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Bermudagrass, 3.75 acres, Arkansas
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I'm really glad you brought this up. You're right, we hear all about the benefits of returning clippings to the lawn - it puts some nutrients back in the soil, increases organic matter, etc. That said, I've been questioning how beneficial this is for low cut/high maintenance bermuda. For example, at what point does the potential for delaying an aggressive verticut in order to maintain a very low HOC outweigh the benefits of returning the clippings to the soil? They say clippings are mostly water, but if you're mowing three days a week to maintain 1/2" (12.7mm ;) ) bermuda, are they decomposing at a rate that doesn't adversely affect appearance/overall turf health?

My lawn is pretty small, so the cost of nutrients and other inputs are not really cost prohibitive, but I do recognize there are some other benefits that should be considered - like reducing yard waste, etc. I'm really curious to hear what everyone else thinks. Good topic - thanks again! :thumbup:
 

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Tifgrand—7,500 sq/ft—Baroness LM56
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This is a great topic!!!

I am leaning more towards the Catching option as time goes on and I get deeper into the short HOC. I'm not really too concerned with the whole putting nutrients back into the lawn thing as I am going to be adding to the lawn as needed anyway and I have NEVER factored that into what I apply to my lawn EVER. The more I get into keeping the lawn cut short, the more I am seeing that OM creates more problems than it solves, so anything I can do to cut back on that I am going to do. I plan on running the groomer on my Baroness pretty low this year so it will be removing more OM than usual so I plan on catching most of the clippings. I purchased a 96 gallon bin from the city that I plan to use for the clippings, I'm hoping that it will hold a weeks worth so I can set it out and get emptied every Monday. The only time I plan on not using the catcher is after I fertilize as I don't want to collect any of the good stuff I put down, but that will be far a few between anyway. I agree with Ware on the whole benefit thing of mulching especially with a reel mower at a HOC at or below .500". I'm not concerned about yard waste as my city will pick it up and recycle it anyway.
 

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I am right in the middle. When the lawn is coming out of dormancy, I like to catch because I do not think there is much benefit of putting the brown dead grass clipping back on the lawn. In the middle of the summer, I like to mulch - especially when I am cutting several times each week. This is my first year with a reel mower, and going under 1 inch. I am going for .50 inch for the Bermuda in the front yard, so I will have to feel it out. The TruCut leaves very fine clippings, but if leaving the clippings on the lawn takes away from the appearance after cutting, I will catch.
 

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Topcat said:
I am right in the middle. When the lawn is coming out of dormancy, I like to catch because I do not think there is much benefit of putting the brown dead grass clipping back on the lawn. In the middle of the summer, I like to mulch - especially when I am cutting several times each week. This is my first year with a reel mower, and going under 1 inch. I am going for .50 inch for the Bermuda in the front yard, so I will have to feel it out. The TruCut leaves very fine clippings, but if leaving the clippings on the lawn takes away from the appearance after cutting, I will catch.
That sounds like a good approach. The answer may be somewhere in the middle.
 

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I have been a bag man forever and pretty much always will be contrary to popular opinion. I thought that I would be tarred and feathered or stoned when I admitted this on that other site. The OCD in me can not handle the clippings on the top of the lawn. I have always mowed *** short in the "normal standard" and can not handle the clumping clippings or fine clippings on the lawn that stick to the bottom of my shoes. I like the clean fresh cut look. Mowing 1.5 inch or 2 with KBG leaves the clippings laying on the top of the lawn because I would normally only mow 1 time or so a week. Longer like 3 or 4 inch you do not tend to have this problem. Even before I was mowing with a reel I would mow very short in the general worlds opinion and would always get comments on why and how my lawn looks so good. I always tell them to the reason was because its cut short and bagged. I never bother to inform them of the countless hours and money in products I have into it unless the conversation gets deeper.

Now that I have been reel mowing now for 1 season and cut around .75 I catch the clippings due to habit and OCD of seeing the clippings on the lawn. This really is not that big of a problem when mowing often but I still get clippings tracked into the house.

I do have to admit though that dealing with the amount of clippings for 20k is a chore in and of itself.
 

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Tifgrand—7,500 sq/ft—Baroness LM56
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The only problem I see right now with using the grass catcher is that it is harder to get into some spots but I'm sure I will figure that out as the season progresses.
 

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wardconnor said:
I have been a bag man forever and pretty much always will be contrary to popular opinion. I thought that I would be tarred and feathered or stoned when I admitted this on that other site. The OCD in me can not handle the clippings on the top of the lawn. I have always mowed *** short in the "normal standard" and can not handle the clumping clippings or fine clippings on the lawn that stick to the bottom of my shoes. I like the clean fresh cut look. Mowing 1.5 inch or 2 with KBG leaves the clippings laying on the top of the lawn because I would normally only mow 1 time or so a week. Longer like 3 or 4 inch you do not tend to have this problem. Even before I was mowing with a reel I would mow very short in the general worlds opinion and would always get comments on why and how my lawn looks so good. I always tell them to the reason was because its cut short and bagged. I never bother to inform them of the countless hours and money in products I have into it unless the conversation gets deeper.

Now that I have been reel mowing now for 1 season and cut around .75 I catch the clippings due to habit and OCD of seeing the clippings on the lawn. This really is not that big of a problem when mowing often but I still get clippings tracked into the house.

I do have to admit though that dealing with the amount of clippings for 20k is a chore in and of itself.
There is definitely more than one way to do lawn care - you are safe here. :thumbup:

I plan to catch my clippings more often this year, for some of the reasons you stated.
 

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BMS said:
I'm really glad I found this topic here. I was going to ask these same questions. Reading the replies here has been helpful, so thank you!
That's why it's always good to ask any questions you may have - others are likely wondering the same thing! :D
 

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I mulch, but I don't have a catcher for my Jacobsen. If I did I would probably mulch 75% of the time and only bag if I was bordering the 1/3 rule. As info I cut at .55

With that said, if I was cutting Bermuda in 100% of my yard, my stance would/could probably be different. I'm cutting ~1400ft2 of Paspalum in my front yard and 3600 ft2 of mixed Bermuda in my back lawn.

On the topic of verticutting, I need a grass box for mine. Cleaning up after verticutting is not fun.
 

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Ware said:
Topcat said:
I am right in the middle. When the lawn is coming out of dormancy, I like to catch because I do not think there is much benefit of putting the brown dead grass clipping back on the lawn. In the middle of the summer, I like to mulch - especially when I am cutting several times each week. This is my first year with a reel mower, and going under 1 inch. I am going for .50 inch for the Bermuda in the front yard, so I will have to feel it out. The TruCut leaves very fine clippings, but if leaving the clippings on the lawn takes away from the appearance after cutting, I will catch.
That sounds like a good approach. The answer may be somewhere in the middle.
Today was the first time I wished I had a catcher for my reel mower. I had been cutting about every other day, but this week, I went four days between cuts, and I lowered the HOC to the lowest setting on the mower. While it cut very fine, there was a lot, and a catcher would have been nice. After I finished cutting, I used my blower to blow any loose clippings that was sitting on the lawn off. After I got done, I came inside and ordered a catcher for my trucut.
 

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This is a sensational article from Penn State on what thatch exactly is.

http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/centers/turf/extension/factsheets/thatch

The nuts and bolts of it is (and this is what I try and practise) is that if you're just cutting the lawn as a maintenance mow (ie sticking to the 1/3 rule) then mulching is fine. All you are removing is the leaf which will be broken down quickly in the soil. If you have verticut, aerated, scalped or had to do an aggressive mow then catch it. In this situation you have cut or removed stem, stolon or rhizome growth which will not break down and will contribute to thatch.
 

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Tifgrand—7,500 sq/ft—Baroness LM56
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SimonR said:
This is a sensational article from Penn State on what thatch exactly is.

http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/centers/turf/extension/factsheets/thatch

The nuts and bolts of it is (and this is what I try and practise) is that if you're just cutting the lawn as a maintenance mow (ie sticking to the 1/3 rule) then mulching is fine. All you are removing is the leaf which will be broken down quickly in the soil. If you have verticut, aerated, scalped or had to do an aggressive mow then catch it. In this situation you have cut or removed stem, stolon or rhizome growth which will not break down and will contribute to thatch.
So if you are grooming on every mow, you should be collecting your clippings? I haven't read the article yet but plan to.
 

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Mightyquinn said:
SimonR said:
This is a sensational article from Penn State on what thatch exactly is.

http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/centers/turf/extension/factsheets/thatch

The nuts and bolts of it is (and this is what I try and practise) is that if you're just cutting the lawn as a maintenance mow (ie sticking to the 1/3 rule) then mulching is fine. All you are removing is the leaf which will be broken down quickly in the soil. If you have verticut, aerated, scalped or had to do an aggressive mow then catch it. In this situation you have cut or removed stem, stolon or rhizome growth which will not break down and will contribute to thatch.
So if you are grooming on every mow, you should be collecting your clippings? I haven't read the article yet but plan to.
I think with an integrated groomer the aim is to stand the leaf up. It would depend on a few factors, like HOC and groomer penetration into the canopy. That being said there may be some stem removal just by the nature of 'standing up' the plant. Tough one. I think I would catch and examine the clippings! :lol:
 
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