What to Do with Grass Clippings Instead of Throwing Them Away
A green yard is what most homeowners strive for during the summer lawn care season. In order for you to keep your yard looking green and healthy, you will need to mow the lawn and water it. But what do you do with all of the extra grass clippings? Today I will share with you some great ways to use grass clippings to help make green lawns 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 just mowed. So let's get started on learning what to do with all those extra composting grass clippings.
What You Can Do with Grass Clippings
Grass clippings, also known as lawn clippings or yard clippings, can be used many different 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 am 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 lawn care ideas.
Leave Clippings on the Grass
If you happen to be someone who removes the grass clippings from the grass after it has been cut, you are probably thinking that you are making your grass healthier by removing the clippings. But in reality, the grass will be less healthy if you remove the mulch grass clippings. If you want a green lawn, rather than throwing away the grass clippings left by your lawn mower, leave the organic materials on your grass. Composting grass clippings are very nourishing to the grass because it acts as a slow-release fertilizer. 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 the grass and maintain healthy soil. Keep in mind that tall grass clippings will not break down and will not be as beneficial to your lawn. To avoid letting your grass become too tall, mow your lawn twice a week. Although you might need to mow your lawn more often than you normally would, 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 the clippings. Keep in mind that if your grass is full of weeds or is showing signs 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 blades of grass and feed them to your animals. Even chickens will appreciate these organic materials.
Studies have been done regarding how healthy grass clippings are for animals. Such studies include results from whether or not 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 that you should never feed grass clippings that have been chemically treated to animals. Only source grass clippings that have never been chemically treated.
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 needlessly filling garbage bags, 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 a nutrient that 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 number of nutrients available to the plants, speed up the breakdown of toxins, prevent your plants from getting diseased, 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 or compost bin 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 clippings are very 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. If you leave your grass clippings to dry for several, they will become brown and can be used as the brown material in your homemade, organic materials compost.
Use Grass Clippings as Natural Dye
Grass clippings can be used to dye eggs green and to even dye shirts. If you want to use natural dyes, grass clippings are a great choice.
Use Them to Protect Your Vegetables from Pests
Slugs and snails are common creatures that you will find in any garden. But sometimes slugs can do more harm than good and can start eating 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 nibbling 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 of the clippings in a green and clean manner.
When Should I Throw Away Grass Clippings?
As beneficial as grass clippings are, there are times 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. Additionally, if your grass is diseased, do not leave the clippings on your lawn. Lastly, if you mow your grass when the blades of grass are 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 the clippings. If you allow the grass clippings to decompose spaced evenly on your lawn, it should only take a few weeks. But if the grass clippings decompose in a pile or compost bin, it may take a few months. If you decide to decompose the clippings in a pile, remember to turn the pile regularly.
If you want to compost grass clippings fast, you will need to mow the lawn every five days. If you are 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, the grass clippings could be used for a beneficial purpose, such as fertilizing your garden or nourishing your grass instead of being burned. Secondly, the smoke from the fire can annoy neighbors and creates carbon dioxide which is damages the atmosphere. Also, in some cities and states, 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 we have already discussed some great ways to use grass clippings, there are other benefits as well. The following is a list of the benefits of grass clippings or lawn clippings:
- Grass clippings are beneficial for your lawn and help keep your lawn green and healthy and act as a slow-release fertilizer.
- Using grass clippings for garden mulch means you won't need to mulch your garden as often.
- It will save you time if you leave the grass clippings on your lawn because you won't have to waste time gathering and bagging the grass clippings.
- Grass clippings improve soil structure and will help the soil hold up to 12 percent more water. In other words, when you use grass clippings, you will not have to water the lawn as often, therefore conserving water and cutting down your water bills.
- Grass clippings prevent weeds from growing.
I hope this article has helped you understand more about the benefits of using grass clippings as a composting process. As you can see, there are many purposes for grass clippings other throwing them away in a waste bag. One such purpose is that when you keep the grass clippings on your lawn, not only does this save you time from collecting the clippings, but it also nourishes your grass by using organic materials to act as a slow-release fertilizer. It can also help keep the soil moist and therefore conserve water. Grass clippings can also be used as compost and mulch for your garden. Not only will it make your garden thrive, but it will also make your vegetables taste better.
In this article, I discussed 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 grass clippings because the smoke can bother neighbors and is not healthy for the environment. It is also important that you don't throw away the grass clippings in a general waste bin because it can ignite. And lastly, I went over the many benefits of grass clippings. As you can see from this article, the benefits of grass clippings greatly outweigh throwing them away. So the next time you mow the lawn or pay for lawn care, instead of throwing the grass clippings away, consider using the clippings for one of the ideas discussed in this article. Your lawn and garden will thank you.