The struggle begins....

Many gardeners out there are looking for a cheap cost effective and easily available mulch for their gardens, shrubs and tree's.  In this search they have turned to many things: natural products like tree bark, wood chips, straw and synthetic products like tire rubber, plastic, glass etc.  Anything and everything was and is fair game in this search.  I personally searched long and hard for a suitable mulch that meet my standards which are as follows


  1. Free or REALLY REALLY REALLY cheap

  2. Easy to find and transport

  3. Easy to apply with limited tools(I lived in a apartment at the time)

  4. Effectiveness(obviously)


With these rather stingy and frugal criteria I figured I was well....screwed.  Then is hit me as I was weeding my garden for the umpteenth time with my hands full of prickly thistle plants and dirt under my fingernails.From Wikipedia Commons: Photo taken by AnimalDetector

 Why not use use the lawn grass around me? 

 The lawn had been let go for awhile and as such when it had finally been cut it was fairly long grass.  They had even left it spread out on the lawn so it had dried nicely and was in perfect condition to mulch with.  With this great idea in my head I went about finishing my weeding since it wouldn't do any good to apply the mulch with 8 inch thistle poking out of it.  The next morning I could I borrowed a rake(remember what I said about limited tools, I had nothing) and I raked up the grass and began to carry it to my garden.  I applied it anywhere from 6- 8 inches thick and when it was all said and done I thought it looked pretty good.

 Over the course of the summer and throughout this “experiment” I discovered a few pro's and con's of using lawn grass as garden mulch.




  1. very cheap or free in my case since I didn’t even pay for the gas to mow it

  2. easy to get

  3. easy to apply

  4. overall fairly effective




  1. Didn’t stop all the weeds (thistle and dandelions are some tough little plants)

  2. I couldn't mulch between my closely spaced carrots, beets and green beans

  3. Grass compacted over the summer. This reduce air penetration and water penetration into the soil. This thinning of the mulch layer also let more weeds grow through.


Now these were just what I observed happening in my particular garden plot.  Other people that use this technique also cite some pro's that I didn’t notice or consider. The first being that the grass provided nutrients such a nitrogen and water retention to the soil.  It also reduced rain impact on the soil and provided a place for beneficial insects to live.  One con to also consider that I discovered after the fact was the use of pesticides or herbicides on lawn grass.  It is a fairly common practice across the country to use chemicals to maintain our lawns and as such the grass clipping may be become contaminated by these chemicals.  Many herbicides are designed to kill broad leaf plants which is what many garden plants are so if you are not careful the application of lawn grass mulch it could introduce chemicals that will adversely affect your garden. 


 Well that is the short and sweet of it if you would like to add anything or to this article or any other that I have like it let me know.  Please tell me about your own mulching experiments and experiences so that we may all be made wiser by each others mistakes and thanks for reading and I hope you will join me here on Infobarrel again and perhaps in my blog the young environmentalist to talk about more things garden and natural world related.