If you have a lawn, then you know that in order to keep it healthy and looking nice, you have to mow it regularly. So what do you do with the grass clippings that are a byproduct of all your diligent lawn labor?
There are four main ways to utilize your grass clippings: as mulch, as an ingredient for your compost bin, as an organic layer for a “lasagna garden,” and finally, as nutrients for your lawn. Let’s take a look at each of these.
1. Lawn clippings are often used as a mulch material around trees, plants and shrubs in the garden. Mulch keeps the soil cool and moist, and inhibits pesky weeds from sprouting. Lawn clippings make a good temporary organic mulch. They will decompose quickly, and can be worked into the soil or covered with a more long-lasting mulch material. Just be sure to let the lawn clippings dry out first before using them as mulch, and apply only a thin layer of them (no more than three inches). A wet, thick pile of grass clippings will turn into a dense mat of smelly, slimy green stuff that won’t do you or your plants any good.
2. If you have a compost bin or compost pile for the purpose of making the coveted “gardener’s gold,” lawn clippings are a good source of nitrogen-rich green matter. Just be sure to keep the ratio of brown matter (leaves, twigs, straw, wood chips) to green matter (lawn clippings, flowers, foliage, coffee grounds, etc.) at around 2:1 for composting success. Again, let the grass clippings dry out slightly and don’t put them on the compost pile in thick layers.
3. A “lasagna garden” is a unique method of building raised beds for gardening by layering different organic materials one on top of the other. (Author Patricia Lanza coined the term because the layers reminded her of how cooks make lasagna). You can use your grass clippings as one of the layers, along with leaves, hay, compost, straw, vegetable scraps and whatever other organic materials you have. As the layers “cook” they break down into rich, nutrient-rich soil that your flowers and vegetables will love. I’ve built many lasagna gardens over the years, and always use my lawn clippings as one of my layers.
4. Last by not least, you can forgo raking up the grass clippings and just leave them on the lawn to add nutrients back into it. Just be sure to break up any big clumps and spread them evenly over the lawn to aid in the decomposing process. Many people don’t like the look of the lawn with the grass clippings on them, but in reality they are good for the health of your lawn.
There you have it–four great ways to use your lawn clippings. Now, if only you could get someone else to do all that mowing for you, wouldn’t life be grand?