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Organic Gardening

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7 Ways to Use Grass Clippings

live grass

With spring finally here and April showers turning everything a wonderful lush green, my lawn has grown phenomenally. I live on just under 1/3 acre and there is a lot of lawn to mow and each weekend I see my neighbors mowing the yard and filling a trash can with grass clippings. 

There is so much more you can do with grass clippings than just throwing them in the garbage; here are some ideas for you to try in your garden over the next few months to put that grass to some good use.

1. Add to Compost

Grass clippings are a great source of nitrogen and break down quickly.  Mix them well with some shredded paper, straw, cardboard or other fibrous materials and add to the compost heap.  As the weather warms up your composting microbes and insects will get on the job much quicker so you have plenty of material to spread in autumn.

2. Use as Mulch in Garden Beds

If you are wanting to retain moisture in your soil for your plants, water a little less, suppress weeds and feed your plants over time then try using grass clippings as a mulch.  Simply spread a thick layer of 2-3 inches around your plants and beds and top up as necessary throughout the season.

You will see that the height of the mulch will drop down as the clippings decompose or are taken into the soil by worms. It isn’t all that aesthetically pleasing and you might have ordinances to abide by; for example I can only have bark mulch, rock/gravel in my park strip.

3. Use As a Mulch for Grass

This might sound crazy but in England it is fairly common for people to cut the grass and the clippings are spread as you cut rather than being bagged up. The cut grass breaks down and feeds the lawn and you don’t need to lug a heavy bag of grass clippings about!

You will need to check with your local ordinances or HOA requirements to see if this is allowed. If you have bagged up your lawn clippings, spread them across the grass to provide a natural fertilizer. Try to thinly spread the cut grass so ensure you do not block light underneath the clippings and kill the grass underneath.

Smaller clippings will break down faster and it does not create a thatch (dry grass stuff you need to rake) in your lawn.

4. As a Mulch for Planting Containers

In the hot weather we experience in the summer, containers dry out very quickly as the whole container is heated up by the sun.  A thick layer of grass clippings in the container around your plants will help retain a bit more moisture.

making liquid fertilizer

5. Make Into a Liquid Feed

Liquid organic fertilizers are seemingly more popular year on year in the store but you can make your own liquid plant feed by steeping a couple of handfuls of cut grass in a bucket of water. Keep the water indoors to reduce mosquitoes or use an organic mosquito control option.

liquid fertilizer ready

After about 2 weeks, it look like the image above and will smell pretty terrible, but the plants will love adding a dash of this to the watering can as you water. You can also use the same technique for perennial weeds.

6. As a Livestock Feed

If your grass is cut with an electric or hand-push mower, you could use the cut grass to supplement diets of herbivores. I have fond memories of grabbing handfuls to feed the guinea pig and rabbit as a child and how excited they would get.  You would not want to use wet clippings since they spoil quickly and can make animals sick.

cut grass

7. Layer in a Raised Bed

If you are building a raised bed or a hugelkultur bed, you can use a thick layer of grass clippings to provide nutrients and build up the bed which will use less compost to make up the volume.  The added bonus is that the grass clippings help to break down the carbon rich fibrous material in a hugelkultur bed.

Emma Raven has been gardening, cooking, canning and home brewing for most of her life. Formulation scientist, blogger, home brewer and avid gardener. Born in a village on the northern east coast of England, she now calls the Wasatch Mountains of Utah home. Find Emma at Misfit Gardening, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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