What are the benefits of mixing grass clippings into the soil? When you mow your lawns, you are going to be leftover with a ton of clippings that you will need to clear.
If you have a small yard, you can leave the clippings on the ground to decompose naturally.
Figuring out when a good idea to bag and remove your grass clippings comes down to several factors. If you leave the clippings for too long, you run the risk of them becoming a pile of garbage and unusable. If you’re looking at dethatching your lawn, check one of our other guides.
Can You Mix Grass Cuttings Into Soil?
When it comes to maintaining your lawn, people love to take pride and care when it comes down to the left-over clippings and how they are used. If you have high-quality turf, you can use the clippings by mixing them into the soil.
You can also add it to your compost. One of the easiest ways to do this is to dry it out and add it to the compost in layers. If you add too much to the heap too quickly you run the risk of creating sludge and slime. Being careful about how much to add is paramount.
Mixing grass clippings into the soil is called mulching. If you have an existing problem with thatch it may be a good idea to check whether or not your soil needs the extra clippings. If you have a lot of weeds or dandelions, for instance, it may add to the growth of these unwanted plants. A healthy lawn typically needs 4lbs of Nitrogen in a season. Mulching can be up to 1lb of Nitrogen, reducing treatment.
Do Grass Clippings Add Nitrogen To Soil?
Grass clippings are an excellent addition to any compost heap. Adding clippings and mulch in the garden area can help retain essential nutrients, encourage growth, and regulate temperatures within your soil. Because grass clippings are organic, it is a very easy way to increase your compost heap. If you haven’t completely cleared your lawn, you can leave some clippings, as it doesn’t suffocate the lawn and can promote growth.
What Can You Do With Grass Clippings?
Due to its high nitrogen content, we generally recommend using the grass clippings to create a compost heap or to use some of the clippings on your lawn for growth. It is an excellent aid to your existing lawn and will fuel growth.
Adding it to compost is what many people do with it. Adding wood chips into the heap will aid in drying out the clippings and reduce any slime production. Given enough time, the lawn clippings will break down leaving you with a great compost heap.
Grass clippings are excellent when mixed up with coarser and browner compost ingredients. These can fuse and make up a very large pile of mulch. However, make sure you don’t leave them in the sun as they can heat up and create slime and smells. Learning to do with grass clippings involves mixing it in even amounts into other dead or excess plant matter.
Grass Clippings as Mulch – Pros and Cons
Mulch is material spread across gardens and lawn beds and may be organic and inorganic. It can consist of dead plant matter that has been dry or is completely fresh. It can also have a stone base.
|Mulch can be organic||Mulch can also be inorganic|
|Grass clippings are completely free||Could create unnecessary slime|
|Grass clippings are very high in nitrogen||Your current lawn may not provide enough clippings|
|Grass clippings promote growth and add nutrients||If you overdo it, you risk suffocating whatever you’re mulching|
According to the University of Minnesota, some benefits of mixing grass clippings into soil include;
- adding nutrients and organic matter,
- you’ll be able to use less nitrogen-based fertilizer,
- it may improve soil health if it is sandy or heavy clay,
- will aid in helping manage the need to collect clippings after you’ve mowed.
How To Dry Grass Clippings
Depending on what type of grass you have, drying will be a relatively pain-free process. Many people who own homes and have to maintain their lawns, will know that grass clippings can be very high in moisture and will need drying. If you are adding your clippings into existing mulch, for example, you can add wood chippings in with it as well, so that this removes excess moisture. If you are adding it to compost, you will need to dry it out. The way of using wood clippings is generally the easiest way and we recommend homeowners do this.
People use this type of mulch to add variety to a landscape and to cover weed mats under certain areas of a garden. It is much more expensive than organic mulch and can cost anywhere between 1-5$ per square foot. It can be very expensive and permanent so you must make sure you take steps to minimize any unnecessary decisions or risks. Use with caution and make sure you take into consideration what you’re using it for. For example, adding too much stone to an area can suffocate a lawn/garden / plant and eventually lead to it dying out. We recommend using this type of mulch for softening the lines of driveways and edges.
Inorganic mulch can be used for stopping the growth of unwanted plants and weeds. For instance, covering a chemical solution over weeds is generally an inorganic process and can kill any weeds. Adding rocks or gravel to a certain area can stop grown of any plants or grasses. Think of tarmac and gravel spread. Because this type of mulch doesn’t decompose, there are no added by-products for the soil. There are no extra nutrients added to the soil.
Grass Clippings in a Vegetable Garden
Because clippings contain nitrogen, an essential element for a plant, it should be added in thin layers in a vegetable garden that’s been kept clean and maintained. It should be added in with soft prunings, flower heads, vegetable matter, and even newspaper. You can sprinkle in a small amount of ash from a fire pit as this will add another essential element to the soil. This can aid the vegetable garden is being aerated and slow the rotting process down. Adding grass clippings can also reduce water loss and suppress weed growth. Once you have clipped your lawn, empty your catcher evenly over a vege garden, sprinkling it from the catcher as you go. You can continue to do this throughout seasons of growth.
Making balanced compost is a way to add nitrogen to your soil. A mixture of high carbon materials like dried leaves and crop waste and any small wood clippings. You can learn to make this into a very efficient compost. Compost can contain millions of beneficial fungi and bacteria that can constitute healthy soil. These organisms promote the breakdown of waste products.
If you apply liquid fertilizer, for instance, you shouldn’t add any extra mulch wood chippings. Wood chips are fine over certain flower beds that don’t get much foot traffic, however, if you start putting the over soil, for instance, you will end up with a different problem entirely. Too much carbon in the soil and not enough nitrogen to compensate will cause issues. You can also do a PH test on your soil to see what your soil needs, in terms of nitrogen and carbon.
How To Store Grass Clippings?
We like to use grass clippings as much, as you can see, around all our plants and any fruit trees we have. They usually break down very fast. In hot weather for instance you may not need to add any extra mulch to your garden, and are looking for ways to store it.
If you have an excess of grass clippings, you can ask a professional to remove your extra waste, you can add it to your compost or you can wrap it up in haybale (depending on how much you have obviously). If you have a large garden, you can put all the clippings into large black rubbish bags, and let them dry out in the sun. They will get hot inside those bags and may even cook out any unwanted weeds.