Can Grass Grow From Clippings?

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The only way to grow lawn grass from clippings is to allow the grass to grow so long it produces seed. Then, when the seed remains in the clippings and conditions are right, it may germinate. Allowing grass to become so overgrown that it produces seeds ensures that it has an unkempt appearance. This may violate city or homeowner association regulations in your community. Other grass propagation methods produce more reliable results.

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The only way grass can grow from clippings is if there are seeds mixed in with the cut grass. Once removed from the grass blade, the clippings decompose and return their nutrients to the soil.

Turf Grass Propagation

Turf grass can be grown from seed, by planting plugs of rooted grass or allowing some grass types to spread by stolons or runners, stems and roots that form new plants. Another technique, sprigging, involves planting stolons with nodes, much the same way as plugs. The success rate of each method depends on the type of grass and growing conditions. Plugs do not detach and become components of clippings, though stolons might. The chance of stolons surviving mower blades and rooting successfully is minimal.

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Annual Grasses From Seed

Some grasses establish better or more quickly from seed than others. Annual ryegrass (​Lollium multiflorum​), often included in lawn seed mixes, germinates and sprouts quickly. If mowed after going to seed, the seeds might germinate, given enough sun and water. Annual ryegrass is usually included in mixes, rather than sold as a stand-alone product, because it produces clumps, rather than a fine, smooth lawn. It won't live for more than a year, but allowing the grass to set seed would produce at least some new grass plants every year.

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Perennial Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass (​Poa pratensis​), which grows in areas that roughly cover U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 7, is a cool-season perennial grass that might grow from seeds contained in clippings. It is also a longtime favorite for lawns. Bluegrass is widely sold, often in mixtures of several varieties, and produces a fine, smooth lawn. Though slow to establish, bluegrass has been reported as invasive, suggesting seed germination rates are high.

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Bermudagrass and Clippings

Bermudagrass (​Cynodon dactylon​) is a warm-season grass that spreads by underground rhizomes and above ground stolons. Hardy in USDA zones 7 through 10, bermudagrass is the exception that proves the rule. While the clippings from grass blades will not sprout, often the stolons are pulled out of the lawn when mowing. If the stolon retains a node or two and falls onto moist soil, it can root and create a new plant.

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Grass Clipping Considerations

If you're looking after your lawn, you mow it when it gets to no more than 3 inches tall, which is before it starts to set seed. Standard grass clippings without seed help return nutrients back to the soil, a task often accomplished by using a mulching lawn mower, which leaves the clippings on the lawn. The clippings degrade quickly, adding organic material to the soil. Collecting and composting grass clippings, along with other organic wastes, will produce finished compost that is useful for amending and enriching soil before grass seed or plugs are planted.

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