How To Mulch With a Push Lawn Mower


Old-fashioned reel lawn mowers are coming back into vogue, as environmentally conscious consumers look for greener ways to care for their lawns. While many reel mowers come with a grass catcher attachment, Cornell University's Department of Horticulture recommends leaving grass clippings on your lawn as a mulch. The clippings provide nitrogen so you fertilize less and also cool the soil surface, improving moisture retention. Gas lawn mowers tend to leave messy grass clumps, but push mowers spread grass clippings out evenly, making a thin mulch that quickly decomposes. Better yet, no more bags full of grass clippings headed for the landfill.

Step 1

Set your push lawn mower's blades to a height of 3 inches. A lawn's roots mirror the length of the grass growing above ground, so keeping your grass longer promotes healthy root growth. You'll also need less water and fertilizer.

Step 2

Cut your lawn when it reaches a height of 4 to 4 1/2 inches. Cornell University Horticulture Department recommends never taking off more than 1/3 of your grass' height at a time. Cutting less than 1 inch off will result in a fine, barely visible mulch.

Step 3

Leave the grass clippings on your lawn. They'll decompose within a few days and provide valuable nitrogen for your lawn. You'll avoid the task of raking and bagging.


  • Cornell University Department of Horticulture Gardening Resources: Mowing
  • People Powered Machines: FAQ

Who Can Help

  • Cornell University Cooperative Extension Office: The Home Owners Lawn Care Almanac
Keywords: using reel mowers, grass clippings mulch, lawn care mulch

About this Author

Julie Christensen has been writing professionally since 2001. She is a full-time freelance writer and former teacher with writing credits from several regional and national publications, such as Colorado Parent and LDS Living. She specializes in parenting, education and gardening topics. Christensen studied early childhood education at Ricks College, and spent 20 years as a teacher and director in university and public school settings.