Should I Bag Or Mulch After Overseeding?

Overseeding is an essential part of rejuvenating your worn and torn lawn. The practice is most landscapers’ go-to strategy for improving a lawn’s thickness and color. However, for the best results, there are some key decisions you must make.

When overseeding it is important to bag your clippings for small patches, diseased grass, cold weather, and thick lawns. For smaller lawns, large overseeded areas, or hot temperatures mulching is recommended. The best practice is a 50/50 split between bagging and mulching per property.

One of those decisions is whether you should bag or mulch after the first overseeding mow. In today’s article, we take a look at both options, with brief explanations of each. We will then help you determine the best choice for your particular situation. Let’s begin.


Bagging Vs Mulching: What Do They Mean When Overseeding?

Whenever you cut your grass, you are faced with two options regarding what to do with the clippings: bagging or mulching.

Bagging grass after overseeding can stop weed growth from spreading into new grass areas and leaves more space for new plants to emerge. Mulching on the other hand can help new growth by holding in moisture. To prevent clumping, mulch if entire lawns are overseeded and bag for small patches.

In most cases, both are sound choices, but what is the difference between them?

Before that, if you are looking for a bagging option for your mower, check out the many different brands here on Amazon.

Bagging After Overseeding

Bagging is (quite literally) the collection of grass clippings so they may be removed from the lawn entirely. Usually, the grass clippings are raked and collected in a bag, hence the name. Nowadays, a lot of lawnmowers and garden tractors can be fitted with mulching bags to eliminate the need to rake and collect the clippings.

After the clippings have been bagged, they can be used for compost or for mulching a vegetable or flower garden (if they are not treated with herbicides). If there is no other use for them, the clippings may also be disposed of via a waste management service.

Why Bag Grass Clippings

In the context of overseeding, you may opt to bag your clippings to avoid stifling the new grass. Grass clippings can easily form clumps, especially in wet conditions. These clumps may end up applying excessive physical pressure on your emerging shoots, as well as blocking access to sunlight.

Bagging is the popular option for people who have overseeded to correct very small lawn patches. This is because the existing grass increases the odds of clumping when you mow the lawn.

Another reason people would want to bag is if the lawn is diseased or if there is an excessive number of weeds. We strongly recommend that you avoid adding diseased clippings back into your lawn for obvious reasons.

Matured weeds should also be disposed of to stop their seeds from reaching the lawn. Weeds will compete with your emerging shoots for resources, which is simply unacceptable.

Some people may also choose to bag clippings if they want to use an alternative organic mulch (compost, wood chips) or fertilizers. 

Speaking of mulch, what is it?

Mulching After Overseeding

Mulch is a layer of material applied to soil surfaces for several benefits including:

  • Prevention of weed growth
  • Soil moisture retention
  • Soil nutrient supplementation

The mulching of grass clippings, in particular, is when they are fed back into the lawn during or after mowing. Like with bagging, some mowers come (or can be equipped) with mulching kits and blades that produce extra refined clippings that will decompose quicker in the soil.

Mulching your clippings will help the soil retain moisture, which is highly beneficial to your emerging grass shoots. New grass requires constant moisture and allowing your soil to dry out is very bad news.

Also, mulching returns vital nutrients to the soil and, ultimately, the lawn. Clippings are particularly rich in NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium). These elements serve as key nutrients for the lawn’s development. According to scientific research, mulched clippings contribute over 30% of the nutrition required by lawns in the U.S.

For many people, mulching saves time, especially when compared to bagging. Even with a bagging mower, you will have to constantly stop mowing to empty the bag. With a specialized mulching mower, all you have to worry about is minimizing the formation of clumps.

Environmental Concerns

If you have concerns about the environment, you’ll be pleased to know that mulching your clippings is the way to go. 

You see, approximately one-fifth of all solid waste in American landfills is made up of yard waste and debris. That translates to about 35 MILLION TONS of waste dumped each year, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  

Doubtless, grass clippings form a significant portion of that number. Returning your clippings into your lawn is one of the measures you can take to ease pressure on landfills and, eventually, the environment.

To be fair, yard waste is mostly all biodegradable and will return to the earth whether in a landfill or not. As well, there is evidence that unless landfills are filled with toxic chemicals or waste, they are covered over and building roads or structures are just fine. Though, this is a topic for another time.

Tip About Mulching In Extreme Temeratures

Mulching is highly favorable in areas that experience high temperatures because such conditions facilitate the rapid breakdown of the clippings. The faster the rate of decomposition, the quicker your grass receives its nutritional boost. Therefore, the opposite is true…minimize mulching during colder periods of the year.

To read more of my articles on overseeding and mowing…

Mowing After Overseeding – Should You Mulch Or Bag?

The grass blades are responsible for catching light required for photosynthesis, which, in turn, grows the grass and its roots. For the first mow, you should not cut more than a third of the total height of the grass blade.

The decision for bagging or mulching may depend on a variety of factors.

Bagging For Thick Lawns, Cold Weather, And Disease

We recommend that you bag your clippings if your lawn is pretty thick and if you’re only overseeding to correct minor bare spots. Mulching in such a scenario could lead to clumping, which will stifle your grass and cause more harm than good.

You may also have to bag if the weather conditions are too cold. Grass clippings break down at a much slower rate in cooler weather, which may result in the same clumping issues highlighted above.

If you’re overseeding to help your lawn recover from a disease, you must bag the clippings. Use compost or store-bought fertilizers to provide your emerging lawn with nutrients.

Mulching For Entire Yard Overseeding, Hot Weather, And Shorter Grasses

Mulching is highly recommended if you are dealing with major bare spots, or if your lawn is seriously thinning out. You should also choose mulching if you are experiencing hot temperatures because such conditions speed up decomposition.

Typically, we recommend a 50/50 split when it comes to mulching and bagging, but use judgment to determine whether you can do more of either.

Tips For Mowing After Overseeding

Regardless of the choice you opt for, ensure that:

  • Your mower blades are sharp to avoid shredding the grass
  • You use a lawnmower that is as light as possible to avoid stifling the grass
  • You do not turn your mower aggressively while moving over new grass
  • The grass is not wet when you cut it
  • You allow the grass to grow to about 3-4 inches before cutting it

The above considerations will give your lawn the best chance of developing properly.

The Final Touches On Bagging Or Mulching After Overseeding…

If you are looking for the best practices on mulching versus bagging, you should have all you need now to make an educated decision. The one you choose will depend on your yard and situation.

Another option is to rotate between the two every other mowing. Once you have tried one, the other, or both for a while, it will become more clear how they each affect your lawn.

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Mathew Booe

Mathew has worked in landscaping professionally for over 10 years. He is a grandpa and frequently interviews other experienced landscapers and lawn care experts who are also grandpas for these articles.

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