10 Tips on What to Do With Grass Clippings After Mowing


Did you know that grass clippings have loads of beneficial uses and shouldn’t be thrown in the trash?

No?

Well, you’re in the right place!

Grass clippings are a really valuable form of garden waste. You just have to know what to do with them!

I’m going to list the best ways to put your grass clippings to good use and explain why you should definitely be recycling this precious resource.

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Why Not Throw Them in the Trash?

Millions of tons of lawn clippings are bagged up and thrown out as trash by Americans every year. In fact, yard trimmings made up the fifth largest category of municipal waste in 2018. That’s almost as bad as wasting food (incidentally the fourth largest category).

Why?

When organic waste such as lawn clippings and food go to the landfill, they release greenhouse gasses and acidic leachate as they decompose, neither of which are good. This doesn’t happen in your compost due to the presence of oxygen and beneficial soil microbes.

pile of grass clippings

Add to the fact that they’re also taking up space in the landfill, it just makes no environmental or practical sense to send them there.

So What Should You Do With Your Grass Clippings?

Nothing At All!

That’s right. The best thing to do with your grass clippings is to leave them as they are, sprinkled naturally in your lawn after mowing.

The grass clippings will decompose really quickly (just a few weeks!), providing the most natural form of fertilizer for your lawn and helping to keep your lawn healthy.

Doing this will save you time and save the environment, it’s a win-win! And, contrary to popular opinion, this method does not increase the formation of thatch in your lawn.

If you do end up with thatch for one reason or another, here’s how to deal with that problem.

Of course, for this to work, you need to use your mower without its catcher or bag. If this isn’t your style and you’re all about leaving your lawn with no debris, the following options may be more suitable, and you might want to check out the pros and cons of lawn sweepers versus baggers too.

The only times you wouldn’t want to leave your clippings on your lawn is if your lawn is really long, or wet and likely to clump, or, if you’re trying to reduce the number of weed seeds in the lawn and you just mowed some seed heads.

If you have too many lawn clippings and are worried about smothering your grass and ending up with dead patches (this can happen), then consider catching your clippings in a catcher, spreading half loosely over your lawn and putting the rest in the compost.

Add Them to Your Compost

What to do with lawn clippings if you don’t want them on your lawn?

The next best thing to do with lawn clippings is to use them in your compost. They provide a ton of nitrogen so are a super nutrient boost to your compost pile. Just make sure you add equal amounts of dry matter like dry leaves, cardboard or shredded newspaper to balance it out.

If you don’t have a compost yet, it’s really easy to get going! Using a compost tumbler is a great place to start as it contains your compost and provides the right amount of aeration while making it super easy to turn over – no heaving a pitchfork and doing your back in!

grass and leaves compost

Add to Your Worm Farm

A similar deal to your compost heap, adding grass clippings to your worm farm is an effective way of getting rid of them while feeding your worms and generating amazing compost! Be careful not to add to much though, it’s pretty rich stuff!

If you don’t have a worm farm, they’re also super easy to start (although not quite as easy as compost to maintain, I will admit).

Worms provide superior vermicast (worm poos) and liquid fertilizer which will boost your garden second to none.

Use Them as Mulch

Grass clippings make an excellent mulch. They decompose quickly enough to provide valuable nutrients while also keeping weeds at bay and keeping the soil nice and warm. This is obviously a bonus through the colder months!

Mulching also keeps moisture in the ground so you won’t have to water as often – another win!

If you want to read more about this, we have an article on the benefits of mulching grass so you can really get into it.

Make Liquid Fertilizer

Another super easy but effective way of using grass clippings to benefit your garden is to make your own liquid fertilizer.

Simply chuck some grass clippings in a large bucket or barrel (fill it about 1/3 of the way), fill with water, cover with a fine mesh to prevent mosquitoes from making themselves at home, and in about 2-3 weeks depending on temperature, you’ll have a delicious grass cutting tea that your garden will love!

Dilute it in a watering can and then give your green friends a nutrient-dense drink!

Make Your Own Hay

This is probably only worth doing if you have some pets who would appreciate some fresh bedding or extra feed. But, it’s surprisingly easy to do! All you need to do is gather up the clippings and spread them somewhere to dry in the sun. Voila!

Use as Animal Feed

If your clippings are fresh and not wet (otherwise they could become diseased), and not sprayed with any pesticides, they will make excellent animal feed for any livestock you have. Even chickens love grass!

wheelbarrow full of grass clippings

Use in Your Raised Beds

Grass clippings can make great mulch in your raised beds (provided there were no seed heads in the grass when you cut it). But they’re also an invaluable source of organic matter when you first start out with your raised bed.

Layer grass clippings with compost and dry matter and you’ll have healthy soil for your next crop of veggies in no time!

Use to Start a New No-Dig Garden

In a similar way to starting a raised bed, starting a no-dig garden is a great way to use grass clippings.

Simply lay cardboard or a thick layer of newspaper over the ground where you want to make a new garden bed and then lay a thick

layer of grass clippings on top, followed by some dry matter, followed by more grass clippings, followed by… you get my drift!

Once it’s decomposed, you’ll have a healthy, weed-free garden bed ready to play with!

Offer it up to Your Neighbors

We all love friendly neighbors. There’s nothing that makes you feel more at home in a community than sharing with your neighbors.

Offer up your grass clippings and you might be surprised by the response!

When Is It Not Ok to Use Lawn Clippings?

The only time it’s not ok to use lawn clippings in the ways listed above is if you have sprayed your lawn with any pesticides or herbicides. You don’t want to be putting sprayed lawn clippings anywhere else in your garden or in your compost. You could potentially harm other plants, insects, and worms.

raking a pile of grass clippings

If you have a serious infestation of an invasive weed in your lawn then you also might want to reconsider using your cuttings as mulch.

You might also want to reconsider putting your cuttings in the compost if there were any seed heads of weeds or grass in the lawn when you mowed – the seeds could very well remain dormant and pop up in your freshly composted garden at a later date if your compost hasn’t reached temperatures high enough to kill them – although if your compost is doing its job, this shouldn’t be an issue.

More Lawn Care Tips and Tricks

Did you know that how you mow your lawn can contribute to its health?

There are definitely right and wrong ways to mow your lawn, so if you want to make sure you’re doing it right, have a read of our lawn mowing tips.

Having the right lawn care tools on hand will also make the job of taking care of your lawn a lot less of a headache. Using the right type of lawnmower is a big part of this. The size of your yard, the species of grass you have, its length, and whether your yard is flat, bumpy, or hilly will all factor into the decision.

Summary

Feel like you know exactly what to do with grass clippings now? All set to put them to good use? Please share your thoughts below if you have any more great ideas on uses for grass clippings.

Remember, the easiest way to deal with lawn clippings is to remove the basket on your mower and let them disperse over your lawn for a natural fertilizer!

Andy Gibson

My name's Gibson. Andy Gibson. I like to think of myself as the Bond of the backyard, that is if yard work ever became sexy. I write about everything about indoor and outdoor gardening and the dread-it-but-still-need-to-do-it chores around the yard, like cleaning out the gutter guards.

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