Should you leave grass clippings on your lawn? Experts share advice for healthier grass

Do lawns benefit from leaving grass clippings after mowing? It all depends on key factors, as our team of grass experts explains

mower on a lawn during summer to question should you leave grass clippings on a lawn after mowing
(Image credit: Getty Images | Svetlana-Cherruty)

Knowing if you should leave grass clippings on a lawn after mowing is a tricky one because essentially there are many benefits, but it all depends on a few crucial factors.

Depending on how often you mow your lawn the amount of grass cuttings will vary, so it can feel hard to judge what's best practice when it comes to removing grass clippings after mowing – similar to when pondering when to first cut grass after winter, there are varying factors.

To help you determine what's best for your own backyard, and avoid lawn care mistakes, we have spoken to a team of grass experts to gain insight into when it's best to leave grass clippings on the lawn and when it's better to remove them for the health of your lawn.

Should you leave grass clippings on a lawn?

Avoiding the temptation to box off after mowing can essentially enrich your lawn by adding valuable natural nutrients and goodness, which along with how long you water a lawn can play a vital role in bettering the health of your grass.

"There are valuable nutrients in the clippings," explains Dominic Pollock, a groundsman at AELTC (All England Lawn Tennis & Crochet Club). "if you don't have to remove them for appearance I'd recommend leaving them."

And while leaving grass cuttings on your lawn can be beneficial to your lawn health,  it all depends on the time of year and the amount of cuttings you leave on your lawn. 

"During the summer months, especially when a drought is expected, it's a good idea to leave small amounts of grass cuttings on your lawn as they will act as a mulch and trap the moisture into the soil by slowing down evaporation," explains Matt Adams, lawn feed expert and founder of The Relentless Gardener

"However, it’s important that you don’t completely cover your lawn with grass cuttings, as it may block the sunlight and increase the risk of suffocating the grass plant."

"During the winter months, it’s probably best to avoid leaving grass clippings on your lawn if possible,' says Matt. "This is because they will take longer to decompose, and reduce the amount of sunlight your grass gets, which is already reduced throughout the winter months." The same applies when aerating your lawn because the conditions are not prime for such lawn maintenance.

Leaving grass cuttings on your lawn during the autumn and winter will also increase the chances of suffocating your grass, causing more harm than good to your lawn. "This means potential disease or moss creeping in which will take longer to repair the following spring," Matt warns.

Summer lawn with traditional wooden garden bench to support an article on whetehr you should leave grass clippings on a lawn after mowing

(Image credit: Future)

Why do people leave grass clippings on the lawn?

People leave grass cuttings on the lawn after mowing simply because the cut blades contain essential nutrients that can act like a lawn fertilizer or DIY compost when left on the surface, to help nurture the cut grass beneath. As the cuttings break down they release beneficial micronutrients to feed the roots of the grass below.

The act of leaving grass cuttings on your lawn, therefore, reduces how often you need to fertilize your lawn as a result.

"It’s important to bear in mind that clippings on the lawn will affect the appearance in the short term because they turn brown pretty quickly, however long term it’s very beneficial to the soil," Matt explains.

lawn with wheelbarrow filled with grass cuttings to support advice on whether you should leave grass cuttings on a lawn after mowing

(Image credit: Getty Images | Clark and Company)

What to do with grass clippings after mowing?

As discussed what to do with grass clippings after mowing will depend on a number of conditions. For grass that needs the extra nutrients that clippings can provide you can simply leave the cuttings on the surface of your turf. 

"Placing grass cuttings on your lawn is best accomplished with a mulching mower," advises Matt. "If your mower has a mulching device, it’s recommended to use it. The device will keep the chute closed and make the clippings much finer. Thereby, meaning the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium as well as other micronutrients will decompose quicker and be released into the soil sooner."

In cases where you don't want to leave grass cuttings on the lawn, it is best to rake them off using a specialist garden rake that won't damage the recently cut grass below. 

Follow one of the biggest garden trends for more sustainable gardening measures by using the excess grass clippings to enrich your compost pile.

Tamara Kelly
Lifestyle Editor

Tamara is a highly experienced homes and interiors journalist, with a career spanning 22 years. Now the Lifestyle Editor of, she has spent the last 17 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, and it’s with these award-winning interiors teams that she gained a wealth of knowledge and honed her skills and passion for styling and writing about every aspect of lifestyle and interiors.

A true homes and interiors expert, Tamara has served as an ambassador for leading interior brands on multiple occasions, including appearing on Matalan’s The Show and presenting at top interior trend forecasting events such as the Autumn Fair and Spring Fair.