Lawn clippings are full of natural nutrients and water, both of which a lawn can re-use very effectively, with Nitrogen being the most abundant nutrient in clippings as well the nutrient lawns require the most of. Nitrogen is responsible for greening the leaf of all plants, including lawns.
Recycling lawn clippings into the lawn involves using a purpose made 4 blade mulching lawn mower being used to cut the grass. The mulching mower uses a combination of specially designed blades and a plug that fits into the back of the lawn mower where the chute normally fits in, this combination spins the clippings several times through the blades to finely chop the clippings into tiny particles, and forces them into the thatch layer of the lawn.
These small lawn clippings then more easily and quickly break down returning their nutrients straight back into the soil.
This method is not suitable for all lawns, faster growing lawns will produce far too many clippings to make the practice worthwhile. An excess amount of clippings which are constantly returned to the turf will only create a thick layer of rubbish clippings which will never break down and make the lawn look ugly.
Just like everything else in life, finding a good balance of things will often produce the greatest benefits for us., the same is true with recycling lawn clippings into the soil.
If a lawn is fast growing throughout the warmer growing season, then recycling lawn clippings may not be a good idea. However, we can still utilise this great resource of free and natural nutrients occasionally when the time is more suitable. In these situations it would be best to only recycle lawn clippings a few times per year. In the cooler months leading from mid Autumn all the way throughout to mid Spring it may be very suitable to recycle, while in the warmer months we catch clippings as usual. Or even just monitor the lawn at each cut to see whether we can recycle at each mowing. Just like life, compromise and balance is often the best solution!
If you don't have a recycling / mulching lawn mower, or prefer to mow with a Cylinder Mower, recycling clipping back into the lawn is still very easy to do. For healthy lawns, it simply requires more frequent lawn mowing which will ensure the clippings are of a far smaller size which can break down more quickly. More frequent lawn mowing is always a good thing as it also promotes more green leaf to propagate - returning a greener, healthier lawn to the homeowner in return. So we get 2 great benefits from recycling lawn clippings.
Longer grass can still be recycled back into the soil. This won't be suitable for very healthy and fast growing lawns as it will produce far too many clippings which will never deteriorate in enough time before the next lot of clippings arrive from the next lawn mowing.
However, if the grass is rather slow growing and is cut infrequently, or the the lawn is sparse, then there would be no problem whatsoever in mowing a lawn without a catcher. The longer period of time between mowings will ensure adequate time for the longer or larger lawn clippings to still break down and return their nutrients back to the soil effectively.