The Best Way To Compost Grass Clippings To Get Good Results

Written By Jennifer

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What about grass clippings? What is the best way to compost grass clippings?

There are two ways to compost grass clippings.

1. Adding Grass Clippings To A Compost Pile Or Compost Bin

Grass clippings are an excellent source of nitrogen for your lawn and garden. They also contain other nutrients that can be beneficial for your soil, including phosphorus, potassium and calcium.

In addition, grass clippings can help to improve the structure of your soil, making it more porous and better able to retain moisture.

And because they are rich in organic matter, grass clippings can also help to increase the populations of beneficial microbes in your soil.

Follow these tips to ensure that the grass clippings do not create problems with your carefully designed compost pile.

Dry It All Out!

If you are serious about composting grass clippings, the first thing you need to do is make sure that you dry out the clippings before adding them to the compost pile.

This is pretty easy thing to do. You need a bit of space around the pile of grass clippings so that you can lightly rake them over so they can dry out. You might need to turn them every few days, particularly if there has been moisture in the air.

We find that sometimes we have more grass clippings than we actually want to add to the compost bin. In that case some of our clippings end up in our “green” waste bin (the contents of which go off to be recycled anyway) and we save some clippings for the compost bin.

Currently we have a baby pile of grass clippings in the wheelbarrow waiting to dry out as shown in the photo below. Note: The rain we had last night didn’t help.

lawn clippings drying out in a wheelbarrow
Small amount of clippings waiting to go into the compost.


As fresh grass clippings have a very high moisture content the clippings can stick together in clumps, instead of being able to spread out loosely. This can significantly reduce the amount of airflow in your compost pile.

Don’t add fresh clippings to the compost pile. If you dump fresh clippings into the pile, there will be a reduced airflow and the composting grass will reduce the oxygen levels and cause the grass to develop a form of white mold along with a strong smell of ammonia.

This cause of this white mold is one of the most commonly asked questions about composting.

As long as you allow the grass clippings to dry out before adding to to the compost bin, preferably in layers, you should not have this problem.

Make A Layer Cake

Composting grass is best achieved by building your compost pile in much the same way as you might bake a layer cake.

As grass clippings are very high in nitrogen they should be sandwiched between layers of browns.

Browns include things like fall leaves, branches and twigs (that have been run through a chipper) and even shredded paper.

shredded newspaper ready for composting
Shredded paper ready for composting

Start out with a layer of browns on the bottom to allow for better air flow throughout your compost pile. Add a layer of greens including your grass clippings on top of the browns and create several layers in this way.

As your compost begins to decompose, you will need to turn the layers with a garden fork or compost aerator.

This is to keep the pile aerated and allow for much faster decomposition.

How Long Will It Take For Lawn Clippings To Compost?

The length of time it takes for your lawn clippings to compost will depend on a number of factors, including the size and mix of materials in your bin, the amount of oxygen and moisture present, and the temperature.

In general, though, you can expect lawn clippings to take several months to fully compost in a compost bin.

compost grass clippings the right way

2. Leaving The Clippings On The Lawn As The Lawn Is Being Cut

By leaving your grass clippings in place, you allow the clippings to feed your soil and help replenish its nutrients.

Composting grass clippings also creates a natural blanket that keeps moisture in the ground and protects your lawn from drying out during hot, dry weather.

In addition, leaving your grass clippings in place helps to trap CO2 emissions and limit water runoff, which can be particularly helpful if you live in an area where drought is common.

Leaving the clippings in place will prevent the need for excessive fertilizer use, it is important to leave them on the lawn. Not only will this reduce waste by providing a natural fertilizer source, but it will also help to stimulate healthy grass growth.

In order to achieve optimal composting results, it is advisable to mow regularly so that there are not sections of longer grass.

This encourages decomposition more effectively by limiting nutrient competition from broadleaf weeds.

One caveat: It can be messy and just not practical to leave the clippings on the lawn, especially if you have children and pets playing on the lawn.

We love playing on the lawn!

How Long Will It Take For Lawn Clippings To Break Down?

The time it takes lawn clippings to break down depends on a number of factors, including

environmental conditions,

the composition of the grass itself, and

the frequency with which the clippings are left on the lawn.


Generally speaking, clippings will begin to decompose within a few days in moist soil and weather conditions. However, if they are left on a dry lawn or exposed to too much direct sunlight, they may take significantly longer to break down.

Some grasses also decompose more quickly than others, with fescues generally taking less time to break down than wheatgrass or bluegrass.

Ultimately, the best way to determine how long clippings take to degrade is by monitoring their appearance and rate of decay over time. By doing so, you can get a more accurate sense of how long it typically takes for your particular lawn clippings to decompose.

You can then adjust your mowing schedule accordingly and help ensure that your lawn stays healthy and beautiful all year round.

FAQ

Won’t Lawn Clippings Left On The Lawn Leave Decaying Material?

Many people believe that leaving cut grass on the lawn will result in a thick layer of decaying material that must be removed by raking.

In reality, however, it can take relatively little time for lawn clippings to break down. Lawn experts estimate that grass typically decomposes in around one week if left on the lawn, although this process can accelerate based on factors such as temperature and moisture levels.

Ultimately, this means that homeowners who want their lawns to look their best can leave their clippings on the lawn without worrying about rotting plant matter taking over.

How Do You Speed Up The Decomposition Of Grass Clippings?

One effective way to speed up the decomposition process is to add organic material like compost or manure to the area where grass clippings have been dropped. These materials contain valuable microorganisms that can help break down the organic matter in the grass more quickly and effectively.

Additionally, mixing in materials like straw or wood chips can help retain moisture and keep the decomposing materials protected from harsh sunlight.

By understanding these techniques, even amateur gardeners can speed up the decomposition of grass clippings and put that valuable organic matter to work for their plants!

Can You Make Compost From Just Grass Clippings?

If you have no access to other compostable materials, and do not want to leave the clippings on the lawn, you can make compost using grass clippings with the addition of soil or manure.

You’ll need to make sure that your grass clippings are relatively dry, as wet materials tend not to break down as easily.

Once the clippings have been prepped, you can begin layering the material in your compost bin or pile, sprinkling on a few handfuls of soil or manure for extra nutrients and stirring periodically as the process progresses.

Can You Put Grass Clippings In A Compost Tumbler?

While there are many different ways to compost, using a compost tumbler is a great option, particularly if you have a smallish space. Compost tumblers come in many different sizes to suit all size homes. A tumbler is a good option if your are renting or leasing as it may be easier than some other models to relocate.

A tumbler helps to speed up the composting process by aerating the material and keeping it moist.

In addition, it keeps critters away from your compost.

When adding grass clippings to your tumbler, make sure to mix them with other organic matter, such as leaves and kitchen scraps.

This will help to speed up the composting process. With a little care and attention, your tumbler will produce rich compost that you can use to improve your garden soil.

What Does A Mulching Mower Do?

A mulching lawn mower is a powerful gardening tool that can help to keep your lawn looking lush and healthy all year round.

First, this type of mower features high-quality blades that are designed to chop up clippings and grass into tiny pieces. When these chopped up materials fall down onto the soil beneath your grass, they act as extra fuel for the plant life, delivering important nutrients and minerals directly to the roots.

Secondly, mulching lawn mowers are also designed to work more efficiently than other types of mowers. This means that they produce much less waste than traditional gas-powered or electric mowers, minimizing noise pollution and air pollution in the process.

Overall, if you want to help your lawn thrive throughout the seasons, a mulching lawn mower is an excellent choice for any gardener!

CRAFTSMAN Self-Propelled Gas Powered Lawn Mower, 21-inch, 3-in-1 Mulching Push Mower with Bag, 140cc OHV Engine (M215)

Conclusion

The best way to compost lawn clippings is either in a compost bin/pile or leaving the clippings on the lawn. Experiment with both. See what works for you.

Taking the time to compost your grass clippings in the manner that suits you best is a worthwhile activity, definitely from an environmental standpoint.

Plus, think of the satisfaction you will get from creating a healthy lawn without an over reliance on fertilizer and reducing what may have been yard waste to a viable product for your garden.

composting worm
Looking forward to some lovely lawn clippings!

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