Garden and Yard Care

Published on May 9th, 2012 | by Lynn Fang


Grass Clippings: How to Compost and Recycle Lawn Waste

Most of us still have lawns all around us, which, while beautiful, are truly energy intensive in maintaining. Their use of water, gas-powered mowing and weed killing are harsh on local eco-systems . You could consider a lawn alternative, such as a native plant garden, or something that fits with your micro-climate. Some people even grow food and veggie beds in their front lawns. If your heart’s set on keeping your lawn, consider cutting down on your energy use with a push-reel lawn mower and let your grass clippings stay on your lawn.

Here’s how to compost and recycle your grass clippings.

push reel

Push mower

 Recycling Your Clippings

This type of recycling is called “grasscycling” and it acts like a mulch, allowing the grass clippings to decompose naturally and add water and nutrients to the soil. It naturally fertilizes your lawn and will save on having to scoop up and bag grass clippings! It will also reduce landfill waste and methane emissions, along with fuel for trucks. Grasscycling is the most eco-friendly way to take care of your lawn.

Composting Grass

If you don’t want this extra layer of mulch on your lawn, the next eco-friendly choice is composting your grass clippings. They are a  tricky composting ingredient due to high  nitrogen levels and ability to clump together.When this happens, good air flow decreases and the compost heap will smell funky, like ammonia.

Keep Grass Compost Healthy, Smelly

Here are some ideas to help make sure your grass clippings compost evenly:

  1. Lay out your grass clippings to air dry for a day or two before composting.
  2. Remember to turn your compost pile if it is full of grass clippings. Turn more often to loosen up clumps and ensure full air flow and even composting.
  3. Use a 2:1 ratio of browns with grass clippings. The browns should be dried leaves, twigs, or wood chips. Add a thin layer of grass clippings in between every layer of browns, so a good carbon:nitrogen is maintained.

Grass clippings make a great addition to your compost pile. They can act as a nitrogen activator, but be sure to have plenty of carbon sources like dried leaves, twigs, branches, wood chips, newspaper, or cardboard.

{Mower photo via Gardening in a Minute on Flickr}

Do you compost, if so, do you use lawn clippings?

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About the Author

is a compost consultant and educator, eco-conscious writer, and intuitive artist. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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