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What to Do with Grass Clippings Instead of Throwing Them Away

During the summer, a green yard is what many homeowners strive for.  In order for you to keep your yard looking good, you will need to mow the lawn and water it.  But what do you do with all of the extra grass clippings?  Today I'll be going over some great ways to use grass clippings rather than throwing them away.  You will be surprised at all the benefits grass clippings have for you, your home, and even the lawn that you mowed the grass from.  So let's get started on learning what to do with grass clippings.

What You Can Do With Grass Clippings

Grass clippings, also known as lawn clippings and yard clippings can be used for so many ways.  Unfortunately, most people assume that the grass clippings are useless, and must be thrown away.  But this is not true.  In this section, I'm going to go over the many creative ideas you can use with your grass clippings.  Let your imagination run wild as we go through these ideas.

Leave Them on the Yard

If you happen to be someone who removes the grass clippings from the grass, you are probably thinking that you are making your grass healthier.  But in reality, the grass will be less healthy if you remove the grass clippings.  If you are wanting a green lawn, rather than throwing away the grass clippings left by your lawn mower, leave them on the grass.  Grass clippings are very nourishing to the grass.  In fact, grass clippings can add back up to 25% of the nutrients that growth removes from the soil.  Grass clippings also encourage beneficial microorganisms and earthworms that digest this grass and maintain healthy soil.  Keep in mind that tall grass clippings will not break down, and leave your lawn not looking as pretty.  To avoid having your grass become too tall, try to keep your lawn mowed.  Although you will need to mow your lawn more often, you won't have to waste time gathering the grass clippings.  Studies show that it takes less overall time to mow more often and leave clippings on the lawn, compared to mowing weekly and bagging clippings.  Keep in mind that if your grass is full of weeds or is showing a sign of disease, do not leave the grass clippings on your lawn.  This will only make the problem worse.

Feed Them to Animals

Animals such as cows and sheep love grass, and will love grass clippings just as much.  If you happen to have cows, sheep, goats, horses, or any grass grazing animal, take advantage of these free grass clippings and feed them to your animals.  Even chickens will appreciate grass clippings.

Studies have been done regarding how healthy grass clippings are for animals.  Such studies include the study on if grass clippings can be used to make silage for cattle feed.  The study found that silage made from recent lawn clippings has a protein content of 18.2%, and a digestible matter content of 68%, which is much higher than hay.  Another study showed that grass clippings can be a very healthy and inexpensive food source for animals like sheep.  If you don't have animals to give your grass clippings to, find out if your neighbors do or ask a local farm if they would like the clippings.  Most likely your neighbors or local farm will be grateful for this free food for their animals.  But remember:  you should never feed grass clippings to animals that have been chemically treated.  Only feed out grass clippings that have never been chemically treated.

Garden Mulch

Another great way to use lawn clippings is to use them as garden mulch.  By using lawn clippings as garden mulch, not only are you using your grass clippings for something better than putting them in a garbage bag, but you are also mulching your vegetable garden/flowers without spending any money.  Mulching a garden with grass clippings is very beneficial.  It contains high amounts of nitrogen, which is something all plants need to grow and flourish.  To mulch your garden or Summer flowers, lay a quarter-inch thick layer of fresh clippings around your flowers and vegetables.

Grass Clipping "Tea" for Plants

By making a "tea" for your plants out of grass clippings, you will increase the amount of nutrients available to the plants, speed up the breakdown of toxins, prevent your plants from getting a disease, and improve the nutritional quality and flavor of vegetables.   To make grass clipping tea for plants, place the freshly cut grass clippings into a bucket of water and allow it to steep.  After three days or so, strain off the liquid and use it to feed your plants by pouring it onto the roots or spraying it onto the leaves.


Composting grass cuttings is beneficial to your garden.  The best compost contains a mix of green and brown materials.  Because the grass clippings are the green material, all you will need to add is the brown material.  Dry leaves, branches, twigs, or paper will work.  But, if you leave your grass clippings to dry, they will become brown and therefore become the brown material.

Use Grass Clippings as Natural Dye

Grass clippings can be used to dye eggs green, and even dye shirts.  If you are wanting to use natural dyes, grass clippings are a great choice.

Use Them to Protect Your Vegetables from Pests

Slugs and snails are common creatures to find in a garden.  But sometimes slugs can do more harm than good, and can start nibbling on your vegetables.  To prevent them from eating your vegetables, dry out your grass clippings and lay some around your vegetables.  This should stop slugs from taking bites from your vegetables.


Do you happen to have more grass clippings than you need?  A good option for you is to recycle them.  Take your lawn clippings to a local recycling center who will dispose the clippings in a green and clean manner.

When Should I Throw Away Grass Clippings?

As beneficial as grass clippings are, there is a time when you will need to put them in a grass bag and throw them away.  If you have recently used chemicals on your lawn, do not attempt to use the grass clippings for mulch, compost, animal feed, or anything else.  Also, if your grass has a disease, do not leave it on your lawn. Lastly, if you mow your grass when the grass is tall instead of short, the grass will not break down into the soil.  Therefore, tall grass clippings must be thrown away.

How Long Does It Take to Decompose Grass Clippings?

How long it takes to decompose grass clippings depends on how and where you decompose them.  If you allow the grass clippings to decompose on your lawn, it should take a few weeks.  But if the grass clippings decompose in a pile, it may take a few months.  If you decompose it in a pile, remember to turn it regularly.

If you are wanting to compost grass clippings fast, you will need to mow the lawn every 5 days.  If you’re composting grass in a pile, turn your pile weekly and water when dry.

What Not to Do with Grass Clippings

One thing that you must never do is burn grass clippings in your yard.  While you may be tempted to get rid of grass clippings by burning them in your yard, this can actually do more harm than good.  First of all, those grass clippings could be used for a beneficial purpose, such as fertilizing your garden or nourishing your grass.  Secondly, the smoke from the fire can annoy neighbors, and it creates carbon dioxide which is added to the atmosphere.  Also, in some cities and even states and countries, burning grass clippings outside is prohibited by law.

Another thing you must never do is throw the grass clippings away in a general waste bin.  This is because when organic material breaks down it creates methane which can ignite.  Therefore, make sure you avoid throwing away grass clippings in general waste bins.

Benefits of Grass Clippings

While I've already gone over some great ways to use grass clippings, some of its benefits have been left unsaid.  So here is a list of the benefits of grass clippings, also known as lawn clippings:

  • Grass clippings are beneficial for your lawn, and helps keep your lawn green and healthy.
  • Using grass clippings for garden mulch means you won't need to mulch your garden as often.
  • It will save you so much time if you leave the grass on your yard, because you won't have to waste time raking up the grass clippings.
  • Grass clippings improve soil structure, and helps the soil hold up to 12 percent more water.  In other words, grass clippings allow you to not water the lawn as often, and therefore saves you water.
  • Grass clippings prevent weeds from growing.

In Summary

I hope this article has helped you understand more about grass clippings and how beneficial they are.  As you can see, there are so many purposes you can use grass clippings for besides throwing them away in a waste bag.  One such purpose is to keep the grass clippings laying on your lawn.  Not only does this save you time from collecting the clippings, but it is also very nourishing for your grass.  It can also help keep the soil moist, and therefore conserve water.  Another great idea to use grass clippings for is as compost and mulch for your garden.  Not only will it make your garden thrive, but it can also make your vegetables taste better.

In this article I also went over when you should throw away grass clippings, how long it takes to decompose grass clippings, what not to do with grass clippings, and the benefits of grass clippings.  It is important that you don't burn the grass clippings outside, as the smoke can bother neighbors, and it is not healthy for the environment.  It is also important that you don't throw away the grass clippings in a general waste bin, as it may ignite.  And lastly, I went over the many benefits of grass clippings.  As you saw throughout this whole article, the benefits of grass clippings are stunning.  So the next time you go out to mow the lawn, instead of throwing the grass clippings away use one of these ideas.  Your lawn and garden will thank you.

Mariann Foster

I am one of our content writers for Everything Backyard. I am a mother and business owner of Big Horn Mountain Alpacas in Wyoming. I love farm life, cutting my own firewood in the mountains, and participating in local trail run races.

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