Mixing Grass Clippings Into Soil [Good Eco-Friendly Idea]

mixing grass clippings into your soil

If you have a lawn and you take care of it you should be regularly mowing it to keep it growing fresh and healthy. So why pay money for some fancy organic fertilizer products when your natural supply grows on your lawn?

There are many different uses for grass clippings whether that is using a mulching mower and fertilizing your lawn with its clippings, using the grass clippings as mulch for a flowerbed, making compost, or mixing the clippings into your soil.

Mixing grass clippings into your soil is an excellent way to recycle organic waste. As the clippings decompose they will release lots of nitrogen and potassium-rich nutrients into the soil, they are basically like organic fertilizer.

Can You Dig Grass Cuttings Into Soil?

If you already have plants growing in your soil and you don’t want to risk disturbing the roots by digging these grass clippings into the soil you should be aware that your plants will get practically the same benefit from putting the clippings on top of the soil as a mulch.

When you add grass clippings as a top layer of mulch they will eventually decompose and the healthy nutrients will be absorbed into the soil. If you prepare your soil before you plant for the season I’d say that is the ideal time to dig your grass cuttings into the soil.  

These are the amounts I would recommend:

  • Mix in approximately 2-3 inches of grass clippings into the top 6 inches of soil.
  • For use as a mulch, layer around 2 inches of clippings over the required area.

rake grass into soil

Check out my article on whether you should mulch or bag your grass clippings.

Do Grass Clippings Cause Weeds?

Grass clippings may cause weeds but they probably won’t.

If you have lots of weeds growing on your lawn when you mow it, then there is a chance they will spread if the weeds are at the stage where they are producing seeds.

However, most of the time when you use grass clippings as mulch either by mixing them into the soil or by using them as a top layer of mulch they will not cause weeds to grow as the nutrients from the grass will be beneficial to the plants you are growing or are planning to grow.

The best way to stop weeds from growing is to make sure the plants or grass you are trying to grow are healthy and the soil is suited to them as weeds are invasive and they tend to only take over areas with weak plants so using clippings should boost your plants and that will help prevent weeds from taking over.

How To Dry Grass Clippings For Mulch?

You may be tempted to mow your lawn and then simply dump the clippings onto your soil as a mulch but for the best results, it is best to dry them out first. You may think this sounds a little bit crazy as you are likely going to water the covered area or it will experience rainfall at some point.

The reason I recommend drying out grass clippings before you use them as mulch is that wet grass clippings become very hot and can burn your plants or root systems if you don’t prepare them properly.

The easiest way to dry out grass clippings is:

  • Lay them out on a tarp but don’t just leave them you should turn them over and give them a mix every so often until they are dry which normally takes a few hours during a hot summer day.
  • If you don’t want to go through this process then you should apply them as a very thin layer of mulch and you should still see some benefit without damaging your plants.

Check out my article on topsoil versus compost.

What Can You Do With Grass Clippings?

In this section, I will briefly cover a few ideas you can easily implement as an eco-friendly way to use grass clippings apart from mixing them into the soil.

  • Mulch them back into your lawn – when you mow your lawn you could use the ‘don’t bag it’ lawn care method. Simply use a mulching mower and leave the clippings on your lawn as an organic mulch, it’s one of the best natural lawn fertilizers you will find anywhere and the bonus is that it’s faster as you don’t have to deal with clippings afterward.
  • Grass clippings around trees – using grass clippings as a mulch for your trees is an excellent use and has many benefits for your trees. When you add a layer of grass clippings around your trees it will help keep the soil moist and trees like moist soil. This method can also help with preventing weeds from starting to grow around your trees which means your trees won’t have to compete with weeds for the healthy nutrients they need to grow big and strong.
  • Mulch for raspberries – using your grass clipping as mulch for your raspberries will benefit your plants which can result in your raspberries producing more berries. For this method, you should add a layer of grass clippings approximately an inch thick and do this a couple of times per year. This method will not only stop weeds growing but the healthy nutrients in the clippings will get absorbed by the soil and into your raspberries.
  • Mulch for tomato plants – if you grow tomatoes then surely you already understand the importance of using mulch. Using grass clippings to mulch your tomato plants will help prevent low-hanging fruits that rest on the ground from rotting, help prevent weeds from starting to grow around your plants, and help keep your soil moist as it is harder for the moisture to evaporate when it is under a layer of mulch.
  • Can I put grass clippings on borders – Yes, you can use grass clippings on borders but the disadvantage of this is that it may look untidy. If you are putting grass clippings on borders you should add a thin layer about an inch deep as they will have some nutritional value. If you are concerned about the clippings making your border seem untidy you could always use a hoe and mix them into the top layer of soil.
  • Grass clippings in vegetable garden – using grass clippings as a mulch for your vegetable garden is an excellent idea. Grass clippings will not only have the same benefits as using regular mulch but will have the major benefit of slowly releasing many nitrogen and potassium-rich nutrients into your soil. Mulching your vegetable garden with grass clippings is a great way to recycle lawn waste and improve the yield from your vegetable garden.

dig grass clippings into veg patch

How Long Does It Take For Grass Clippings to Decompose?

Your grass clippings are not going to decompose overnight, the fastest way to make your grass clippings decompose is to add them to a thriving compost pile.

If you are using your clippings as mulch or mixing them into your soil it can take between 2 weeks and 2 years for them to completely decompose depending on how deep you pile them.

If you are planning on using your clippings as mulch for your lawn you have to make sure you use a mulching mower blade that will chop the grass into tiny pieces that will allow them to get down to the thatch layer of your lawn where they will decompose and the nutrients will be absorbed back into your lawn.

Do Grass Clippings Make Good Compost?

Check out my article on some of the best compost bins for your yard.

If you aren’t going to use grass clippings directly as mulch for your soil or lawn then the best thing to do with them is make compost out of them.

When you add a large amount of grass clippings to a compost pile it will raise the nitrogen levels and produce a rotten smell. You shouldn’t add a large amount of fresh grass clippings to your compost in one go, you have to add them in balance with other materials.

Really, you should be doing anything with your grass clippings that results in them not getting sent to a landfill site.

You do have to make sure your grass clippings don’t have any nasty chemicals in them which should be the case if you are using clippings from a residential area as there are regulations about what fertilizer can be used in these areas, whereas if you are using grass clippings from a golf course or farm you may have to be more cautious.

When you are adding anything to your compost pile you have to have a balance between green and brown material otherwise it may not decompose correctly so if you are adding green grass it would be a good idea to add brown leaves at the same time.


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