Mowing the grass regularly can give you a seemingly endless supply of grass clippings that you may not really know what to do with. In many cases mulching them back into the lawn is acceptable but this is not always the case.
For the majority of people that ask me what to do with their grass clippings I usually advise them on one of the following six options depending on their current situation and/or values.
The best ways to get rid of grass clippings include, mulching them back into the lawn, using them in the garden as a soil amendment or surface mulch, adding them to compost piles or bins, bagging them for community recycling, using them (fresh) for livestock feed, and making liquid fertilizer out of them for use at a later date.
For the vast majority of people only one or two of these options will make sense at any one given point in time so let’s go into your options in greater depth down below so that you can make a good decision on what disposal method for your cut grass is best.
Before reading the rest of this article make sure to see the following video where I questioned a number of lawn and garden experts on their take on the subject.
Now with that out of the wat let’s look at the top 6 options for dealing with (or removing) lawn clippings from your property.
The Best Ways To get Rid Of Grass Clippings
Fresh grass clippings contain a nice mix of Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus and although it could be tempting to fertilize with them directly adding them into the compost pile can preserve more of the beneficial nutrients while transforming the clippings into compost which can be even more versatile.
As a fresh nitrogen source that hasn’t been gassed off the nitrogen in grass can easily offset the high carbon components of dead leaves, twigs, and fibrous garden debris allowing compost piles to heat up faster and higher than they would otherwise.
Make sure to see Tony’s website Simplify Gardening for more expert gardening advice.
Grass clippings from your lawn usually contain a healthy dose of Nitrogen along with a supporting role of Phosphorus and Potassium. Average NPK ratings for grass clippings fall into the 4-0.5-2 zone meaning that they can easily feed the lawn between regular fertilizer cycles. Not only can they feed but they can usually do it fairly quickly too. Grass clippings start their decomposition process in a matter of hours after they have been cut meaning they can return nutrition back the soil very quickly and usually on par with some natural fertilizers.
If your lawn gets overgrow then it may be detrimental to mulch clippings back onto the lawn for fear of them acting as a mulch but for the majority of mows this shouldn’t be a concern. Grass clippings break down very quickly during the growing season and shouldn’t be a concern for smothering existing grass as a mulch or turning into thatch. Warm weather and soil temps almost always result in greater microbial activity and fast decomposition of finely chopped greens like mulched grass clippings.
Make sure to see the following post for more on the benefits of mulching grass clippings back into the lawn.
For those people who have no interest in composting in the back yard and have no need for home-grown mulch bagging your clippings into a biodegradable bag and dropping them off at the local recycling program in your area is a great option.
In many cases these programs are run by regional or local waste management drop-off sites and they can take your grass clippings into their clean mulch piles for bulk composting.
If you were to just drop the clippings into the trash can they would simply make their way into the general landfill and not be put to good use.
6. Feed Fresh Clippings To Livestock
Partial Transcript & Outline Of The Video: Never Throw Grass Clippings Out Again!
I bet you’ve made a mess out of grass clippings a time or two.
Overgrown grass clumps out the bottom of the mower.
Bagged grass spills near the trash can.
Failed compost piles stink up the property.
Today I wanted to round up some of the smartest lawn & garden experts I know of to help you deal with grass clippings better.
Chances are good that you’ll never throw clippings away ever again!
►► Roll Mini Intro ◄◄
In my lawn I almost always mulch clippings into the soil for the purpose of nutrient cycling but when grass gets overgrown my favorite thing to do is to collect the clippings later for use in the garden, typically as a mulch…
…but I think I’ll be making liquid fert out of it more often in the future.
Later in this video Kyle from Lakehouse Lawncare is going to cover the how and the why of doing that so make sure stay tuned to the end.
To start off however I asked Yard Brah (a new creator in the lawn care space who is making top notch content over on his channel) to explain the nutrient cycling process of mulching grass back into the lawn. I asked him why we do it, when we don’t advise mulching, and how to mulch those clippings better.
Yard Brah Vid #1
Real quick we are going to cover the following options for yard owners:
1. Mulch Them Into The Lawn
2. Bag Them For Trash, Landfill, or Community Mulch/Compost Pile
3. Use As Top Dressed Garden Mulch
4. Use As Nitrogen Source For Home Compost
5. Feed To Livestock (Careful)
6. Make Into A Liquid Fert
Some of these are better solutions than others and in some cases like my own I use a mixed variety of these solutions depending on the time of year and the circumstances of the day.
To help us understand the particulars of each option I’ve enlisted the help of:
• George from Princess Cut Lawn Care,
• Rob from Turf Therapy
• J from Yard Brah
• Tony from Simplify Gardening, and
• Kyle from Lakehouse Lawn Care
…to help us understand the important aspects of each option.
J – Why do so many lawn care experts recommend mulching clippings back into the lawn and when is it not a good idea?
Do you have any quick tips for mulching them in better?
George – You don’t mulch them into the lawn can you tell us why?
If you are bagging them for removal can you explain proper options for other yard owners like yourself?
Tony – I’m assuming you come at this from a different angle. As a gardener I’m sure you don’t usually pass up on using grass clippings in your compost piles, am I right?
Do You have any tips on how regular homeowners can compost their clippings down more efficiently throughout the year?
Rob – As an avid lawn care creator you also run a substantial container garden. What’s your take on mulching or top dressing your beds
and containers with fresh clippings?
Are there any risks in applying fresh clippings or should they age a bit?
Kyle – I know we can use clippings to make liquid fert to be used at a later date. Can explain why lawn owners might do this and how?
Is this any different than mulching them back into the lawn?
►► TRANSITION ◄◄
There is one other commonly touted use for clippings that I want to touch on but first I want to thank all of the contributors for sharing their expertise. To my viewers you should know that each of these contributors regularly create their own videos on lawn and garden care – if you watch some of their stuff I promise you you’ll learn a ton and be entertained at the same time. I’ll have links to their channels in the description below.
►► Transition ◄◄
The last option for grass clipping usage has to do with animal feed. To be brief you can use clean fresh clippings as feed for only a few select types of animals and only for a few hours tops after cutting the grass before the clippings start aging too much. This is not usually a good idea but it can be done if you know what you are doing. To learn more about this and the risks especially make sure to see the link in the description below.
For me in my yard I mulch back into the lawn most of the time, and bag occasionally for use in the garden. Once a year or so I usually bag to make a small batch of liquid fert…and I almost never throw the clippings away. There are too many ways to use them.
Check out the links to the other creators! These guys are the best!
Tony is the best for those of you looking to learn a bit about gardening. His channel is exploding right now with popularity. The same can be said for George at Princess Cut and J over at Yard Brah. Those two have infectious personality and their content is always a “must watch”. You can learn a ton watching Kyle over at Lakehouse Lawn care, he keeps things simple and engaging and Rob over at Turf Therapy is able to constantly remind us why lawn care and garden life is so important – he’ll teach you something in every video too which I love about him.
There is a companion blog post linked below that covers all the points of this entire video in greater depth and detail. I’ve you’ve got the time, check it out linked in the description or just google it! Search for the term “Turf Mechanic: What to do with grass clippings!” – you’ll probably find it in short order.