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recycling grass clippings

The Best Way to Recycle Grass Clippings

No one likes an unkempt lawn, although keeping up with the maintenance requires regularly cutting your grass and finding something to do with all the grass clippings when you finish. So, what do you do with all those grass clippings? Well, If you are like a lot of other people, you probably bag up your grass clippings and throw them out with the rest of the trash.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates nearly 18% of what ends in the landfill annually is yard waste. This jumps even higher than that in the spring and summer months too as much as 50%!

Is this the best use of all of your grass clippings, or are you wasting valuable nutrients that you could use in so many other ways? It may be hard to believe, but those clippings you bag up and throw out weekly are probably more beneficial and useful in more ways than you can even imagine!

How to Recycle Grass Clippings while Saving Money and with Minimal EffortSo, what can you do? You can stop wasting all those useful nutrient-filled clippings when you cut your grass because they are not trash and shouldn’t be treated as such. Not to mention the millions of dollars spent every year collecting, transporting, and disposing of yard waste into a landfill, rather than recycling and reusing it in your own yard. Most importantly, when you dispose of your grass clippings, you are missing out on so many wonderful opportunities to recycle, reuse, and save!

Mulch The Grass Without A Bag

What is “mulching”? Some people simply know it as just the way they cut their grass, but the technical term mulching describes the traditional way of cutting your grass where the clippings fall back onto the grass once the lawnmower cuts them and provides nutrients and sustenance to the soil without the added labor and cost of having to use store-bought fertilizer.

In addition, mulch from grass clippings limits evaporation in the soil which helps to conserve water.  Not only is it useful for mulching, but it also replenishes nutrients and nitrogen back into the soil saving time and money, while also reducing waste.

In today’s world, most of us get to choose between self-bagging lawn mowers or mulching your grass clippings. Mulching your grass instead of using a bag could serve many benefits to you and your lawn. First and foremost, it saves a significant amount of time by mulching the grass instead of bagging it. When you think about all the time that goes into cutting the grass, bagging the clippings, stopping what you are doing to turn off the mower, taking the bag off to empty it, and then attaching it back on, the process could be very time consuming and labor-intensive. Not to mention repetitive. 

Some general rules of thumb to keep in mind:

#1 Put mulch around flowers, vegetable plants, shrubs, and trees ONLY when the grass clippings are dry.

#2 Make sure the clippings have not been recently treated with any herbicides or it could negatively affect the health and growth of plants as opposed to helping fertilize.

#3 Only apply the mulch 1 to 2 inches at a time to prevent clumping and deterioration.

#4 Thick layers of mulched grass clippings have a tendency of clumping together, which holds moisture in the clippings instead of the soil. Over time, wet clumps of grass clippings become high risk for smelly decay and can invite some unwanted mold and other diseases to your soil.

Mulching Grass

Compost Grass Clippings

For anyone who’s never done any composting before, it could sound complicated and time-consuming, but it’s actually the exact opposite! As the cliche goes, it’s literally as easy as 1,2,3:

  1. Cut your grass
  2. Leave the clippings in a bin, box, or spot in the yard
  3. Let it create compost and fertilize your grass for you

Seriously, that’s ALL. 

FCMP outdoor composter bin for grass and other natural materialsOur favorite compost bin to make it even easier in the FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Tumbling Composter 

Although the process itself could be relatively easy, following the tips in this chart will ensure your compost pile remains healthy, fresh, and plentiful.

How to Compost grass clippings

Some general rules of thumb to keep in mind:

#1 Be sure to use untreated grass. Any herbicides in the grass clippings may take extremely long to break down in the compost pile and could potentially pose a threat to any plants that will be receiving the compost.

#2 Grass is a green material, which means it could clump and become overly wet over time. Always make sure you turn the clippings into the compost pile, don’t just throw them on top. This will help avoid slowing the progression down and loss of important nutrients and microbes.

Turn It Into Liquid Fertilizer For The Garden

Another extremely resourceful way to use your grass clippings is to make a liquid fertilizer. Like all living things, plants also have specific dietary needs to grow and thrive. Without proper nutrition, plants will become weak, discolored, unhealthy, or even shrivel up. Over time, these plants will start to wither away. Most people utilize store-bought fertilizers and nutritious soil to keep their plants healthy and strong, which is a great option, but there is nothing quite like an organic homemade liquid fertilizer. 

Fresh grass clippings are an excellent source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, and better yet, they are free! Making a liquid fertilizer from grass clippings is 100% organic and only takes a few days. Below are instructions on how to easily turn your grass clippings into a liquid fertilizer, along with some tips you can use to make sure you’re getting the most out of your homemade fertilizer.

Some general rules of thumb to keep in mind:

#1 As always, only use untreated grass to prevent poisoning your plants with herbicides.

#2 Fresh grass clipping have a Carbon-Nitrogen ratio of about 20:1 generally

#3 Add any unused grass clipping and anything left over after draining to your compost pile

#4 If you don’t have a lid, at least cover the bucket with some screen or other material to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in it

#5 Because leaves of plants absorb more nutrients than the roots and at a faster pace, spraying the fertilizer on the weeds is the most efficient method

#6 Apply fertilizer no more than every 2 weeks

In Review...

Using this organic fertilizer is fast-acting and very easy to do. You will find the most benefit during the time of transplanting seedlings into your garden as well as any plants that are blossoming or setting fruit. You will start to see the benefits in a matter of weeks and will surely make this method part of your regular gardening routine!


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