Should you bag your grass clippings?

The answer to that question is a resounding, "No." While bagging your grass clippings may leave your lawn looking nice and neat, all that waste isn't doing the environment any good. In the United States, grass clippings account for around 20 percent of a household's annual output of solid waste [source: Colt, Bell and Johnson]. The environmental hazard caused by bagging and dumping grass clippings is so severe that many states have actually made it illegal to dump grass clippings in landfills.

The good news is that not bagging your grass clippings can actually benefit your lawn. For example, grass clippings can be used as a fertilizer, soil additive and mulch. One idea is to spread the clippings along landscapes and around plant beds as a way to prevent water erosion. In recent years, a growing number of Americans have begun to use compost. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 20 million tons of grass clippings and other yard waste are composted every year.

On a practical level, not bagging your grass clippings doesn't necessarily mean extra lawn work for you. In fact, one estimate is that leaving your grass clippings can actually reduce work time by almost 40 percent [source: Colt, Bell and Johnson]. As far as needing to buy a new lawn mower to fit your new, eco-friendly attitude, you can rest assured that your current mower will do just fine. Chances are that all you'll have to do is remove the grass catcher attachment; just check the owner's manual first before you start fiddling around and trying to remove the bag. Another thing you don't have to worry about if you leave your grass clippings is the formation of thatch. Since grass clippings are largely comprised of water, they tend to disintegrate quickly and therefore not a potential source for thatch build-up [source: EPA].