Most sources agree that grass clippings can be left on the lawn and will compost themselves providing nutrients to the soil if they are approximately one third the blade length or less. The smaller clippings will naturally decompose in the lawn over a short period of time. However, for those times when clippings need to be picked up, putting them in a compost pile is an excellent way to recycle the organic matter but only if certain precautions are taken. Common reason to pick up grass clippings are when the lawn is very overgrown or diseased. These clippings can still be added to the compost pile and will reduce the amount of waste going to landfills.
A Simple Composting Recipe
Grass clipping are considered “Green Matter” when fresh has a significant amount of water content and tend to compress creating a “mat”. The matting does not allow oxygen flow which is essential for a healthy compost pile. Essential microbes that make composting happen requires oxygen to grow and stay healthy as they breakdown the organic matter. To remedy this matting problem and to help with excess water from the clippings, “Brown Matter” needs to be added at an approximate 1:1 ratio. Brown matter consists of dried leaves, wood chips, straw, etc. Even dried grass clippings can be used in the mix if equal parts of brown and green matter are used.
Compost piles that have to much moisture or are compacted will sometime smell and/or not compost very fast. A simple remedy is to break up the pile and add additional brown matter to be “turned in” to the compost mixture. The mixing will help aerate the pile and the extra brown matter will absorb some of the excess moisture making a healthy habitat for the essential bacteria. A good rule of thumb for compost pile moisture content is to “keep it as moist as a wrung-out sponge”. If the pile is maintained correctly, it should not have any unpleasant odors.
It is necessary to remember when using grass clippings of the kinds of chemical treatments that have been used on the yard such as herbicides and pesticides. Most commonly used products for home use breakdown less than a month but can last up to a year. However, most over-the-counter products are safe to be composted and usually will not cause any adverse effects, though fungicides should be avoided or left out of the pile for at least a week after application. It is suggested to read the product labels for additional information.
Get to Composting
A healthy compost pile is an excellent source of “black gold” that can be used in flower beds and gardens. Proper mixtures are critical to create a healthy compost pile which will keep odors to a minimum, except for the pleasant kind. You can also consult with experts in lawn and tree care like Giroud Tree and Lawn to find out more ways to make your yard and garden bloom. In conclusion, grass clippings are an excellent source of organic matter to placed in a compost pile but are better to be composted in place if possible.