What do you do with your grass clippings after mowing the lawn? A lot of people throw them out but you shouldn’t because they can be very useful. However, depending on what you are using them for, you may need to dry them out. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about drying grass clippings and what you can use them for.
Why Dry Grass Clippings?
Old grass clippings have a lot of uses in the harden. They can be used for mulch, to stop weeds from growing through, and they can be added to compost. In some cases, you should dry your grass clippings out before using them.
Dry grass clippings have less nitrogen in them than fresh clippings. Getting the balance of nutrients in your soil right is crucial and too much nitrogen can disrupt their growth. Drying out the grass clippings also prevents heat and moisture buildup when you use them as mulch. Putting a thick layer of fresh grass clippings on your plants can lead to mold.
Grass also gets incredibly hot as it decomposes. But if you dry them first, you can put a thicker layer down, preventing water loss and feeding nutrients to the plants while also maintaining a stable temperature and moisture level.
The clippings are better for compost when they are dried too. Combining dried grass with dried leaves creates a perfectly balanced compost with the right nutrient breakdown.
The other great thing about drying your grass clippings is that you can store them. Wet clippings will rot down, but dried grass can be kept for a year or two in garbage bags. The nutrient content will gradually reduce over time, but the clippings can still be very useful.
How to Dry Grass Clippings?
Drying out your grass clippings is very simple. Take a tarp and spread out the fresh grass clippings in an even layer, no thicker than 1-2 inches. If you lay it on too thick, moisture and heat will build and the clippings will start to rot down instead of drying out. Make sure that you pick a sunny day and leave the grass to dry. Turn it over with a garden fork regularly to expose grass on the bottom layer.
How Long Will It Take Grass Clippings to Dry?
Grass doesn’t take too long to dry, especially in the hot sun. After a day, the top layer of the grass will be brown and the underneath will be a pale green color. Once you turn it and leave it another day, all of the grass will be dried out.
What Can You Use Dry Grass Clippings for?
Dry grass clippings are used for a lot of things around the garden. They’re great for mulching your plants and they’re particularly good for stopping weeds from growing through. Dry grass clippings make a great addition to your compost too.
You can also use dried grass to encourage wildlife in your garden and feed animals. Rabbits, for example, love eating dried grass. It can be used as bedding for a worm bin, or mixed with twigs and leaves to create an insect habitat.
What Happens to Wet Grass Clippings?
Wet grass clippings will decompose fairly quickly. If you leave them out in your yard, heat and moisture will cause them to break down. As the grass decomposes, the nutrients break down and get absorbed back into the soil. During this process, the clippings can generate a huge amount of heat, so you need to be careful where you put wet grass.
In some cases, leaving wet grass clippings to break down is a good option. It naturally fertilizes your lawn and makes it healthier. But if you want to use the clippings for other purposes, you should dry them out first.
Are Dry Grass Clippings a Good Mulch?
Yes, dry grass clippings make great mulch. You can use wet clippings but only in a very thin layer or they will get far too hot. Dry clippings can be put down in a much thicker layer, and they will slowly break down into the soil, feeding it nitrogen in moderate amounts.
A thicker layer of mulch also helps to lock in moisture and prevent evaporation, meaning that you don’t have to water your plants as often. People often use straw for the same purposes, but dried grass clippings are easier to pack around the base of plants, especially if you are using pots with limited space.
Can You Mix Grass Clippings into Soil?
Yes, mixing grass clippings into soil is a good way to slowly fertilize the soil and feed your plants. The clippings break down much slower when they are buried under the soil because they have a lot less oxygen.
So, it can take up to a year for them to decompose. As they break down very slowly, they release nutrients at a reduced rate. If you dry the clippings first, the amount of nitrogen released into the soil will be negligible, so it’s best to use fresh clippings for this.
You need to till the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches and then mix in roughly 1 pound of grass clippings per 100 square feet.
Can You Burn Dry Grass Clippings?
If you have too many grass clippings and you need to get rid of them, you may be thinking about burning them. This is an option, but only if you do it in the right way. Firstly, check whether it is legal in your area because the laws vary from place to place.
Even if it is legal, you need to make sure that you do it safely because burning grass can put a lot of pollution into the air. Check out our great guide on burning grass clippings to make sure that you’re doing it right.
How Can You Naturally Dispose of Grass Clippings?
If you don’t want to burn your grass clippings, there are plenty of natural ways to dispose of them including:
- Animal Feed
We have a full guide to natural ways to dispose of grass clippings if you need some more ideas.
How Long for Grass Clippings to Decompose?
It takes a few weeks to a month for grass clippings to completely decompose. After 1-2 weeks, they will break down enough that they start to dissolve into the soil and they are barely visible, and after a month, they will be completely gone. However, the specific time that it takes depends on the weather and how much the clippings have been cut up. You can find more detailed information in our guide here.
Throwing out your grass clippings is a wasted opportunity because they can be used for all sorts of things in your yard. If you want to use them for mulching, you should always dry them out first. Once they’re dried, you can store them easily too, so you always have some on hand when you need them.
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.