Mulching with grass clippings has started to become extremely popular in the past couple of years. The availability and ease of use of grass clippings as mulch means that more and more people will start using their grass clippings instead of outright throwing them out. Mulching with grass clippings is excellent for vegetables, flowers, and even fruit trees, but a lot of people do make mistakes when it comes to mulching with grass clippings, especially if they use it around their trees.
Grass clippings around trees are an ideal way of providing valuable nutrients to the trees and also keeping the nearby soil moist. On the other hand, if the grass clippings are in direct contact with the trees then they can do more harm than good. Make sure to place the grass clippings around your trees and not directly on the stem of the tree, just leave a couple of inches between the grass clippings and the trees.
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In certain cases too much of a good thing can be harmful, this is the same way with grass clippings around trees, if you do not use it correctly you might stunt the growth of the tree or outright damage it permanently. The good news is that there are a couple of easy steps which you have to make while using grass clippings around your trees and you will see massive improvements in the health of your trees, no matter if they are fruit trees or not. If you want to know more about using grass clippings as mulch then check out my recent article Grass Clippings As Mulch Pros And Cons ( Top 16 Pros and Cons ).
Grass Clippings Around Trees
From my personal experience, using grass clippings around trees as a mulch can have several advantages. Firstly, it helps to retain moisture in the soil, preventing it from drying out too quickly and reducing the need for frequent watering. This is particularly beneficial for young trees that require consistent moisture for healthy growth. Secondly, grass clippings act as a natural weed suppressant, creating a barrier that inhibits weed growth around the base of the tree. This saves time and effort in weed control and allows the tree to receive the maximum nutrients and water without competition from unwanted plants.
Additionally, as the grass clippings break down, they provide organic matter to the soil, improving its structure and fertility over time. However, it’s essential to apply a thin layer of grass clippings around the tree to avoid excessive moisture retention or potential mold issues. Furthermore, care should be taken to keep the grass clippings away from the trunk of the tree to prevent moisture buildup and potential disease or rot. Overall, using grass clippings as mulch around trees can be a practical and sustainable way to promote healthy growth and minimize weed growth in the tree’s immediate vicinity.
Don’t Let The Grass Clippings Touch The Trees
Probably one of the biggest mistakes that someone can make when it comes to grass clippings is to pile them on the base of the tree. While this might look practical, but it can actually damage the tree, given enough time. As grass clippings are excellent at retaining water, they will be an excellent environment for fungal growth. Some fungi are beneficial for the growth of the tree but others can be extremely harmful.
This is one of the main reasons why you should not pile the grass clippings around trees, as sooner or later the fungal growth will start damaging and even rotting the tree. Make sure when you are using the grass clippings around your trees to leave a couple of inches between the grass clippings and the trees, in such a way that they are not touching each other. If you want to know how to make compost step by step with grass clippings then check out my recent article How to make compost at home step by step ( In 12 Steps ).
Using Too Much Grass Clippings
In a lot of neighborhoods, people seem to simply pile the grass clippings around their trees, and after a while, it looks like the tree is growing out of a small hill. This is extremely harmful to any tree for two reasons, fungal growth, and anaerobic bacteria. Anaerobic bacteria do not need air to survive, and your main goal with mulching or composting is to have aerobic bacterias which need air, this way they will also aerate the mulch or compost.
If you are using too much grass clippings around your trees, then sooner or later the anaerobic bacteria will take over. The anaerobic bacteria do break down the grass clippings but they do it a lot slower than bacteria that do need oxygen. Go check the grass clippings around your trees, and if the bottom layer of grass clippings is compacted, gray, and looks like a fuzzy carpet then you are using way too many grass clippings.
To fix this problem, you will have to remove the old grass clippings and add a thinner layer of fresh grass clippings. If you live in East Texas and you want to know what are the best vegetables to grow in this area are then check out my recent article Best Vegetables To Grow In East Texas ( Top 10 ).
Grass Clippings Can Attract Pests
Grass clippings around trees can be an ideal home or hiding spot for a lot of different pests. The most common pests the grass clippings will attract are slugs and snails, although, for the most part, they are harmless to most trees, but if you have flowers or vegetables growing nearby then this could be problematic. Ants will oftentimes set up shop at the base of the tree especially if the grass clippings are touching the tree.
In the worst-case scenario, the grass around your trees will be an ideal home for mice and rats. If you start to notice an unusually high amount of pests in your area then make sure to check the grass clippings around your trees. If you want to know more about mulching with grass clippings then check out my recent article Mulching With Grass Clippings ( Top 9 Best Practices ).
Grass Clippings Can Leave A Bare Spot
I know that you already know this, I am not trying to insult your intelligence but a lot of people freak out when they use grass clippings around their trees and see that nothing grows in those spots, even after they have removed the grass clippings. This is perfectly normal, as the grass clippings will simply smother the weeds and other plants that might want to grow in those spots. Keep in mind that if you remove the grass clippings the bare spot will still be there for a good while.
Grass Clippings Break Down Fast
There are a couple of extremely important nutrients which all trees need, nitrogen and phosphorus. The good news is that grass clippings tend to contain a lot of these nutrients and the even better news is that they will release these nutrients a lot faster than if you would be mulching with wood chips. Grass clippings fully decompose in a couple of weeks or months, depending on your climate, and the faster they decompose the faster the nutrients will be readily available for your trees.
On the other hand, if you are using wood chips as mulch, they also contain nitrogen and phosphorus, but these nutrients will be trapped inside them for years mostly because wood chips tend to decompose relatively slowly.
- Applying a layer of grass clippings around the base of trees can help retain moisture in the soil, which is especially beneficial during dry periods. The grass clippings act as a natural mulch, reducing water evaporation and allowing the tree’s roots to access moisture more efficiently.
- Grass clippings contain nutrients that can be beneficial for the tree’s growth. As the clippings decompose, they release nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus back into the soil, providing a natural fertilizer for the tree.
- When using grass clippings around trees, it’s important to apply them correctly to avoid potential issues. Avoid piling the clippings directly against the tree trunk, as this can create a moist environment that may lead to rot or disease. Instead, spread the clippings in a thin layer, extending a few inches from the trunk, and ensure they are not matted or compacted.