If your homestead has a lawn, you probably have a lawn mower to keep your grass neat and admirable. However, as you mow your lawn, you will have grass clippings. Where do you take them? Do you clean them up or let them remain on the lawn?
One study by the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States established that over 35.4 million tons of trimmings, including leaves, grass, and other plant debris, were disposed of. This waste contributed to approximately 12% of the country’s total municipal waste.
Are there environmentally-friendly ways of handling grass clippings? This article addresses practical ways to put your grass clippings to good use.
If you are interested in exploring how to use grass clippings as mulch, I encourage you to read this article.
Things To Do with Leftover Grass Clippings
All lawn owners delight in a pest-free healthy lawn for a perfect home appearance. And the grass clippings can enhance the health of your lawn, depending on how you use them. Here are some basic ways to use your yard waste after mowing.
1- Let Them Remain On The Lawn
One way to effectively utilize grass clippings is to let them be where they lay. This method is called grasscycling.
However, you need to know the length of these grass clippings. If they are less than an inch long, let them be because they will decompose quickly, providing manure to the soil, thus enhancing the growing lawn’s health and resilience.
Ensure you remove longer grass clippings from the lawn because they can smother the growing grass beneath them, thus resulting in lawn damage. This is because longer clippings take longer to decay and are unhealthy for your lawn.
Decomposed grass clipping releases nutrients and organic matter into the soil, acting as free fertilizer. Furthermore, you will save the time and energy to collect and bag the clippings.
Advantages Of Recycling Or Leaving Grass Clippings On The Lawn
- Since grass clippings decompose and release nutrients into the soil beneath, you can significantly reduce the cost of nitrogen fertilizer by leaving them on the lawn.
- Decomposing grass clippings enhance soil aeration.
- The organic matter from grass clippings helps to improve different soil types low in organic matter.
- They enhance water retention since they provide mulching to the soil
- Grass clippings also regulate soil temperature
- You can reduce mowing time by leaving grass clippings on the lawn
- They provide excellent habitat for beneficial earthworms, microbes, and insects.
Grasscycling is ideal for frequently mowed lawns because the grass blades are not tall, so you will have less work trying to remove more than an inch tall blades.
Alternatively, you can use a mulching mower that chops the grass into smaller pieces for easy decomposition.
If you are looking for a good lawnmower for wet grass, check out these Top 7 Lawnmowers.
When Should You Not Leave Grass Clippings On The Lawn After Mowing?
While leaving grass clippings on the lawn provides nutrients that benefit the growing grass, there are exceptions to this practice.
Don’t leave the grass clippings if:
- They are longer than one inch since they can smother the growing grass beneath and cause damage.
- They are infested with diseases- Remove the affected parts to examine the problem and prevent it from spreading.
- They have piled up near a gutter or curb- Grass clipping can be a menace to the sewerage system and local water sources if a storm or flood washes them down the drain.
- They affect your lawnmower’s operations, especially those you cannot operate without bagging attachments.
Thatch And Grass Clippings
Some people worry that leaving grass clippings on the lawn could cause thatch- a layer of undecomposed organic matter between the growing grass and the soil surface. This problem often arises when more organic matter is released than it decomposes.
Do grass clippings lead to thatch? No! Grass clippings are made up of easily degradable compounds and water, so they do not accumulate to form thatch. Although long grass clippings have a wiry stem that decomposes slowly, they do not contribute to thatch build-up.
Research showed that grass clippings do not cause thatch buildup. In contrast, thatch buildup is mostly caused by grass stems, shoots, and roots (Source: The University of Georgia)
However, don’t try grasscycling when your grass is too wet, has not been regularly mowed, or is too tall, as it could lead to excessive buildup of thatch. (Source: University of California)
On the contrary, that is caused by the following things:
- Application of excess nitrogen fertilizer
- Planting vigorous grass varieties
- Reduced soil oxygen levels
- Infrequent mowing.
2- Use Grass Clippings To Feed Your Compost
Composting is a fun way of making fertilizer to enrich the soil while reducing the chances of environmental pollution through waste landfills. Since grass clippings have high nitrogen levels, they can enrich your compost pile, thus making it more useful to the soil.
If you wonder how to compost your grass clippings, follow this procedure:
- First, ensure your compost area is shaded and away from neighbors who may be affected by the smell.
- If you are using a container, ensure that the container’s sides allow free air to flow into the compost. A slated wooden box is often ideal, but you can poke holes on any container’s sides.
- Add grass clippings to the compost pile and mix them with other plant materials. You could also add a small amount of soil rich in microorganisms to help decompose the organic matter.
- Add a small amount of water to the compost layers to facilitate decomposition.
- Turn the compost after every few days with a pitchfork to ensure the compost is evenly decomposing.
Note: It is important to mix grass clippings with other dry materials like straw or leaves to reduce the foul odors from pure clippings’ anaerobic decomposition.
Remember, if you recently sprayed your lawn with herbicides or the lawn is diseased, you should not compost the resulting grass clippings.
3- Use The Grass Clippings For Mulching
Mulching your garden beds or container garden is a good gardening practice that helps to retain water in the soil. As you mow your lawn, you produce piles of environmentally-free mulch.
Besides soil moisture retention, mulching can reduce weed growth and erosion and regulate soil temperature.
However, before using grass clippings as mulch around vegetables, flowers, trees, and shrubs, ensure they meet a few conditions:
The grass clippings should be dry- wet grass clippings could cover the soil and prevent nutrients and oxygen from penetrating the plant roots.
- Apply no more than 1 or 2 inches of clippings at one time.
- Add more clippings only after the previous ones have decomposed.
Note: Do not use grass clippings for mulching if you recently treated them with herbicides or broadleaf weeds since the chemicals may harm your plants.
4- Use The Grass Clippings To Feed Nature
Are you living near a farm with cows, goats, sheep, geese, and chickens? Use your grass clippings to feed this livestock. However, ensure that the grass clippings you feed your animals are freshly cut and have not been treated with pesticides or herbicides; otherwise, they can make your animals sick.
Alternatively, you could dry the grass clippings and turn them into hay snacks for your pet rabbit, tortoise, or guinea pig.
If you have a vegetable garden near the woods, you can pile grass clippings at the edge of the woods to keep the deer at bay and prevent them from destroying your crops.
5- Make Tea For Your Plants
Have you ever heard of plant tea? You can use grass clippings from mowing to make a delightful drink for your lawn or plants. Here is how:
- Fill one-third of a bucket with grass clippings
- Fill the remaining two-thirds of the bucket with clean water
- Keep the mixture indoors in a garage or a shed and cover it with a screen to reduce the pungent smell and mosquitos.
- Please keep it for two weeks for the tea to properly cook.
- After two weeks, your tea is ready, and you can spray it on your lawn or plants.
Note: Avoid treated grass clippings.
6- Use The Grass Clippings To Make a Garden Lasagna
You can also use grass clipping for cooking a garden lasagna. It is a low-effort gardening method that does not need digging. You will undoubtedly avoid sore backs by simply using leftover grass clippings, newspapers, and kitchen scraps.
How Do You Make a Garden Lasagna?
Identify a sunny spot in your yard.
Start with woody materials like broken branches or twigs
Follow with a layer of corrugated cardboard, but ensure the cardboard is drenched in water to facilitate the decomposition process.
- Add between 2 and 6 inches of dry leaves, newspaper clippings, wood chips, or hay to provide food to the worms that will decompose soil materials.
- Add 1-2 inches of green layer- grass clipping, plant cuttings, food scraps, and manure.
- Alternate green and brown layers in the ratio of 1:2, ending with the brown layer on top to prevent animals from eating your lasagna.
- Give it four to five months, allowing the layers to decompose and form a perfect soil for gardening.
Is It Okay To Leave Grass Clippings On The Lawn?
It is totally fine to leave grass clippings on the lawn. Actually, leaving grass clippings on the lawn after mowing is called grasscycling. Even though grasscycling may slightly increase thatch buildup, the benefits of leaving grass clippings on the lawn outweigh the disadvantages in most situations.
Grasscycling is a natural way of recycling grass clippings by leaving them on the lawn after mowing. The best thing about grasscycling is that it saves time and effort and, when done correctly, is good for the grass’s health and the environment.
You might also enjoy reading: Best Ways For Getting Burnt Grass Green Again Properly.
Instead of throwing away your grass clippings from lawn mowing, you can put them to good use by enriching the soil or feeding your livestock. Grass clippings are rich in nitrogen and can be added to compost or cook a garden lasagna for healthy plants.
You can also use them for mulching to reduce weed growth and soil erosion. However, remove the grass clipping from the lawn if they are treated with herbicides, are infested by disease, or are longer. You do not want to damage the freshly growing grass in your yard.