As kids, there was nothing like brewing potions and making soup out of freshly cut grass clippings. If only getting rid of them as an adult was half as fun as tossing them into a sandcastle bucket like a 5-star chef sprinkling seasonings in a delicious stew. So, the possibilities are kind of endless for what you can do with grass clippings. But after the kids have had their fun, there are some things you should do to keep them from turning into a mucky mess.
What to Do With Grass Clippings Instead of Throwing Them Away
Grass clippings are more of a nuisance than a real danger to your lawn’s health. In fact, you can leave any clippings under 1” tall, because they’ll quickly biodegrade. However, if you don’t want to feel the fine pieces of cut grass under your feet, try making mulch or compost. They’re much better options for getting rid of your clippings than clogging up storm drains or filling up landfills.
Turn Grass Clippings Into Mulch
Incredibly, you can use your cut clippings to help your gardens grow. Collect your clippings, and once they’re dry, you can spread them around your garden beds. Just be careful not to smother the soil (stick with less than 2” spread in total) as you work.
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This is best done with dry clippings, because wet clippings can break down into a thick layer that’ll smother your plants from their needed nutrients.
Never put herbicide-treated grass clippings on your plants. And if you can’t remember when it was last treated, stay on the safe side and don’t use them for mulch.
Compost Your Grass Clippings
Composting isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve already got a compost going or you’re interested in starting one up, grass clippings can be a great addition to your pile. While they are a big source of nitrogen, they will get a little funky smelling if they’re only in a pile of mulch material. So, make sure you add other dry goods (like raked leaves) to the pile to stop the smells.
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Similarly, don’t pack them down in your compost pile. It’s not about making the compost as small as possible, because that’ll just increase the wet compaction and gross smells that can happen. Instead, lightly layer in your clippings, leaving space for them to breathe.
Blow Them Into a Finer Layer
Sensory issues that leftover grass clippings can cause aside; your moderate grass clippings can be a vital resource for your growing lawn. It can keep it cooler during the hot months, add nitrogen back into the soil, and encourage important micro and macroorganisms to further fortify your grass roots.
But if big piles of grass clippings left where they come flying out of the lawn mower drive you nuts, take a leaf blower and work them over your lawn. This will break up the piles and create a soft dusting that should be more palatable to sensitive feet.
How Do Grass Clippings Benefit Your Lawn?
Grass clippings are way more ecologically beneficial than you could imagine. Here are just some of the reasons why people are making the switch to leaving their grass clippings right where they are.
- Grass clippings decompose into organic material that helps fertilize and aerate your lawn.
- Clippings encourage important bug species like earthworms to root around your lawn.
- Clipping can shade your fresh grass during the hot summer months.
- Decomposing grass clippings also help increase your lawn's water retention.
Can You Throw Grass Clippings Away?
Unless you’ve got particularly weedy grass or you haven’t cut your grass in weeks, you shouldn’t need to throw the clippings away. However, if you do need to get rid of grass clippings and you can’t compost/use them as mulch, then you can bag them.
Don’t toss your bags into a recycling or trash bin. They’re a fire hazard and aren’t suitable for that waste disposal process. Instead, contact your county to see if you have any specific days throughout the month or year where they pick up yard waste. Usually, these pickup services require you to package your yard waste in clear plastic bags and set them in front of your property like with trash pickup.
Grass Clippings Belong on the Ground
It’s fascinating how suburban landscapes and HOAs have cultivated false narratives about lawn care just to serve their own ‘beautification’ standards. Ask any suburbanite, and they’d tell you that grass clippings were bad for the lawn and contributed to thatch buildup, when that reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, your grass clippings belong back on the ground, in one way or another.