If you have a lawn and you take care of it you should be regularly mowing it to keep it growing fresh and healthy.
When you cut your grass the result is that you end up creating lots of grass clippings and you don’t want to be a fool that bags these clippings and throws them in the garbage, you should definitely be mixing grass clippings into your soil as it is one of the best natural organic fertilizers you will find.
There are many different uses for grass clippings whether that is using a mulching mower and fertilizing your lawn with its own clippings, using the grass clippings as mulch for a flowerbed, making compost, or mix the clippings into your soil.
Why pay money for some fancy organic fertilizer products when you have your very own natural supply growing on your lawn.
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?
The first thing you have to be sure of when you are recycling your grass clippings is that you haven’t been using any nasty chemicals on your lawn as you really don’t want to then spread chemicals into your soil.
Some plants will benefit more than others when you add grass clippings into the soil as it will raise the amount of organic content in the soil so you really should check your plant varieties before you add the clippings as you don’t want to accidentally make your soil unsuitable for the plants you are growing.
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 the 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 are preparing 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.
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 if the weeds are at the stage they are producing seeds then there is a chance they will spread.
However, most of the time when you use grass clippings as mulch either by mixing into the soil or by using 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 actually 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 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 actually burn your plants or root systems if you don’t prepare them properly.
The easiest way to dry out grass clippings is to 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?
You really don’t want to be sending your grass clippings to a landfill site as that use is bad for the environment and there are many ways you can use grass clippings that are actually organic and good for the environment.
In this section, I will briefly cover a few ideas you can easily implement as an eco-friendly way to use your 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 actually faster as you don’t have to deal with clippings afterword.
- 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 definitely 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 will 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 kind of untidy. If you are putting grass clippings on borders you should add a thin layer maybe about an inch deep as they will have some nutritional value. If you are really 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.
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 actually take between 2 weeks and 2 years for them to completely decompose depending on how deep you pile them.
This long variable timeframe for the decomposition process is the reason you don’t want to mow your lawn and leave your large clumps of grass spread over your lawn as the up to 2 years it can take for them to decompose is definitely long enough for the grass clippings to block sunlight and ruin the grass underneath.
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 material.
Really, you should be doing anything with your grass clippings that results in them not getting sent to a landfill site.
You do really 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.