Did you know that grass clippings make up 37% of all waste sent to the garbage dump during the growing season?
It’s such a waste! (Pun intended.) There’s a lot of other things you can do with grass clippings that will benefit your lawn and garden. All for free.
Can I Throw Grass Clippings in the Garbage?
You could throw grass clippings in the garbage, but unless your grass has diseases like leaf, rust and dollar post, you’re wasting a prime source of plant nutrition. Fresh grass cuttings are high in nitrogen and dried grass clippings are a good source of carbon, both of which can tremendously benefit your lawn, flower beds, and vegetable garden without costing you a dime.
You’ll also be reducing your household waste by 10 percent!
So instead of putting grass clippings in the garbage and paying for fertilisers and compost, take advantage of them for a healthier yard!
7 Ways to Naturally Dispose of Grass Clippings After Mowing
1. Grasscycle (Leave On The Lawn)
Grasscycling is leaving your grass clippings on your lawn after mowing. Your lawn gets all the benefits of decomposing grass (returning nitrogen, adding organic matter, improving the soil) while also saving you a lot of time and effort in bagging up grass clippings and applying compost or fertiliser.
All you need to do to grasscycle is mow… then leave the grass clippings. Maybe lightly water your lawn after, unless rain is coming, to push the grass cuttings towards the soil so they’re not just sitting on top. (Watering after mowing can also help grass recover from the stress of mowing, although is not always necessary.)
Click here to find out how long it takes grass clippings to decompose.
Maybe you’re not super crazy about the idea of having grass clippings all over your yard. Or maybe you have flower and vegetable beds you want to feed too. In that case, add the grass clippings to a hot or cold composting pile!
Composting can be as easy or as labor intensive as you want. The best method for composting grass clippings is to use hot composting. You can easily DIY or buy a compost bin with air holes for aeration.
Add ⅔ of carbons (generally any brown yard scraps, cardboard, and newspaper) and ⅓ nitrogen (generally any garden scraps that’s green and kitchen scraps).
Fresh grass clippings are a nitrogen source. Dried grass clippings are a carbon source.
Flip the pile (mix up the pile) every few weeks, or at least a couple times a season. Between access to oxygen, moisture, and being turned, your pile should heat up. When the compost is finished (ie. ready to use), it’ll look dark brown, smell loamy like rich earth, and crumble easily in the hand.
3. Compost In a Green Bin
If you don’t have room for your own compost bin, then put the grass clippings in your municipal compost bin. Depending on your program, your grass clippings could be used to provide free compost to people in your region (take advantage!) or be composted into soil that then goes into building up road bases which saves good topsoil for growing projects.
3. Use Grass Clippings As Mulch
Like other organic material like bark, straw, and compost, grass clippings can be used as a mulch to prevent weeds from growing and to help the soil retain moisture. The grass clippings then break down into nutrients that feed your plants.
The main challenge with grass clipping mulch is that it’s easy for the wind to blow it away. If you have high winds and few windbreaks in your yard, this isn’t the best option for you.
If you have some wind, then soaking the grass clippings when they’re in place will weigh them down. Not fool-proof, but it will help.
Only lay down 1 to 2 inches of grass clipping mulch to avoid fermenting the grass and releasing methane.
You can also use grass clipping mulch to planters and container gardens!
4. Animal Feed
Do you have chickens? Geese? Goats? Pigs? Throw the grass clippings into their pens (unless you apply pesticides or herbicides). Don’t feed them wet grass clippings, as wet grass clippings can get moldy.
You can also dry out the grass clippings into hay for rabbits and guinea pigs.
Don’t feed horses fresh grass clippings as the fermentation can cause colic, a life-threatening condition. Either let the horse mow your lawn for you or let the grass clippings dry into hay first.
5. Add to Vermicompost Bins
Dried grass clippings make an excellent bedding material for your worm bin, or mix it in with equal parts dried leaves.
You can also add a handful of fresh grass clippings in as a food source. Don’t put too much in. Remember, only feed as much as the worms can eat in a few days or it’ll rot.
6. Fill Raised Beds, Containers, And Hugelkultur Mounds
Filling raised beds and containers takes a lot of compost and soil, especially if you’re building deep beds. But you only need to fill the top 12” with soil and compost. Most roots won’t grow deeper. Instead, you can fill the bottoms with dried leaves, wood, kitchen scraps, and, you guessed it — grass clippings!
As the season progresses, the grass clippings will break down into nutrients to feed your plants.
7. Give Grass Clippings Away
Maybe you don’t have a use for grass clippings, but a friend might love them for their compost pile. Or someone in town. Put a post on Craigslist or Kijiji (or whatever used object sales platform popular in your region) to let people know they can get grass clippings for free if they come pick it up. Leave it on the curb for a handy socially-distanced pass.
If you do use synthetics, pesticides, and herbicides, do let people know, though, so they don’t accidentally put pesticides in their organic compost for a vegetable garden.
You may also be able to give it to a local community garden project for their composting needs.
So next time you’re mowing the lawn, instead of spending your precious weekend hours bagging grass clippings for the dump, take advantage of one of these seven methods. Your yard will thank you for it.
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.