What to do with Grass Clippings – Read our Eco-Friendly Guide

 In Lawn Care

Maintaining a beautiful, green lawn requires regular mowing. But what happens to the leftover grass clippings? Traditionally, they might be bagged and thrown away, 

Lawn clippings are the leftover grass pieces generated during the mowing process. They represent a rich source of organic matter, composed primarily of water, cellulose, and various nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. While often perceived as waste, these clippings hold the potential to be transformed into valuable resources with the right approach.

Contributing to overflowing landfills. However, embracing eco-friendly practices offers several beneficial alternatives for utilizing this readily available organic material. Find out more about how you can repurpose lawn clippings, transforming them from yard waste into valuable resources for your lawn and the environment.

What Are Lawn Clippings?

Several practical options exist for utilizing lawn clippings responsibly and eco-friendly.

Leaving Clippings on the Lawn (Grasscycling)

This method involves leaving the finely chopped grass clippings directly on the lawn after mowing. There are many benefits of ‘grasscycling’ including natural fertilization, decomposing grass releases nutrients like nitrogen and potassium back into the soil, acting as a natural fertilizer for your lawn. It also helps to reduce watering needs as the layer of clippings helps retain moisture in the soil, minimizing the need for frequent watering, especially during hot summer months.Decomposing grass clippings also add organic matter to the soil, promoting healthy microbial activity and improving soil structure.

Here are some tips for successful grasscycling:

  • Maintain a regular mowing schedule with shorter cutting heights. This allows the clippings to decompose faster and prevents them from forming a thick layer that can smother the grass.
  • Use a mulching mower. These mowers chop the clippings into finer pieces, facilitating faster decomposition and promoting even distribution on the lawn.
  • Avoid clippings from recently treated lawns. If you’ve used herbicides or pesticides on your lawn, avoid leaving the clippings behind, as they might contain harmful residues.
Composting Grass Clippings

Grass clippings can be a valuable addition to your compost pile. However, balance is key. While grass clippings provide nitrogen, a key nutrient for composting, they are also high in carbon. To ensure proper decomposition, combine them with “brown” materials like leaves, twigs, or shredded paper to create a balanced mix of carbon and nitrogen. It’s a good idea to chop the clippings as smaller pieces decompose faster and contribute to a better-aerated compost pile. Avoid using grass clippings from lawns treated with herbicides as these may add harmful chemicals to your compost pile.

Mulching with Grass Clippings

Fresh or partially decomposed grass clippings can be used as mulch around trees, shrubs, and flower beds. Used as mulch, grass clippings can help with weed suppression as the layer of mulch helps block sunlight from reaching the weed seeds. It can also aid moisture retention reducing the need for frequent watering. 

Placing mulch around plants and trees helps regulate soil temperature, keeping it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, providing a beneficial environment for plants.

Here are our top tips for mulching with grass clippings:

  • Use only partially decomposed clippings. Avoid using fresh grass clippings, as they can create an environment conducive to fungal growth.
  • Apply a thin layer. A 2-inch layer of mulch is ideal. Too much mulch can smother plants and restrict air circulation.
  • Keep the mulch away from the base of plants: This helps prevent moisture buildup and potential rot around the plant’s stem.
Lasagna Gardening

Lasagna gardening is a method that utilizes layers of organic materials to create a raised garden bed. Grass clippings can be incorporated into the lasagna garden layers, providing a source of nitrogen and organic matter for the soil.

Utilizing Leftover Clippings

If you have more clippings than your lawn needs, offer them to neighbors who might appreciate them for their own composting or mulching purposes. You can also research local drop-off programs and check if your local area has programs that accept yard waste, including grass clippings, for composting or other environmentally responsible uses.

Does Putting Grass Clippings on Bare Spots Help Grass Grow?

While leaving grass clippings on the lawn during mowing (grasscycling) can offer benefits like nutrient recycling and improved soil health, it’s not the most effective method for directly promoting grass growth in bare spots. Grass clippings primarily contain decomposed grass matter, not viable seeds. Spreading them on bare spots won’t necessarily result in new grass growth. A thick layer of clippings can smother existing grass shoots or newly planted seeds, hindering their growth.

For effective grass establishment in bare spots lightly rake the bare area to remove any debris or matted grass that might impede seed-soil contact. Choose a grass seed variety suitable for your climate and soil conditions and follow the recommended seeding rate and planting depth for optimal germination. It’s also a good idea to lightly cover the seeded area with a thin layer of soil or straw to retain moisture and promote seed germination. Finally, keep the seeded area consistently moist, but not soggy, throughout the germination and establishment period.

Call Our Lawn Care Professionals

By implementing sustainable practices like grasscycling, composting, and mulching with grass clippings, you can contribute to a healthier lawn and a more sustainable environment. Seeking professional lawn care assistance can further enhance your lawn care efforts and really help your lawn to thrive. That’s where the expert team at Heron Home & Outdoor can help! We’ll analyze your lawn and recommend eco-friendly solutions tailored to your specific needs and goals. We can provide expert advice on setting up and maintaining a compost pile, including utilizing grass clippings effectively.

Remember – don’t toss – repurpose!

For further lawn care advice, take a look at our lawn learning centre.

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