Grasscycling or mulching is the natural practice of recycling grass clippings by leaving them on the lawn when mowing. Once cut, the clippings will quickly dry out and decay naturally releasing valuable nutrients back into the soil for a healthier lawn. This process promotes a healthier and deeper root system, and increases grass resistance to drought and disease.
Grasscycling is a simple and easy way to get involved in reducing waste that benefits the environment and saves time because it eliminates the bagging and dragging of clippings to the curb. Try it this year and see the difference.
Benefits of Grasscycling
Grasscycling not only benefits the environment, it improves lawn health and quality.
Aids in water conservation/evaporation - The grass clippings acts as a water-saving layer keep moisture in the ground soil and reducing the amount of water needed (lower water bills).
Natural Fertilizer - Grass clippings are a free and renewal resource that benefits your lawn by naturally providing nutrients that fertilize grasses. As grass clippings decay they act as a high-nitrogen fertilizer releasing nutrients back into the soil. Other nutrients released are potassium and phosphorus, along with other smaller amounts nutrients. A bag of grass clippings can equate to the equivalent of ¼ lb of fertilizer and reduce the need to fertilizer by approximately a third. The decomposition of grass clippings also encourages beneficial microbes and earthworms that increase plant health and growth.
Saves time - Eliminates the need to collect grass clippings / empty lawn mower bags. A study in the United States (Fort Worth, Texas) found that 147 homeowners who stopped bagging grass clippings saved 35 minutes per mowing.
Saves money - No need to buy the special compostable bags required for pick up in the Municipal yard waste program. Grasscycling yard waste could also further reduce your residential waste pick up requirement anywhere from 20 - 40%.
Reduce waste - Reduces transportation costs and resources required to collect waste. An average lawn will generate 300 - 400 lbs of clipping per 1,000 square feet per year.
Tips to get you startedNo special mower is needed – use a push, gas or electric. Push and electric mowers are more environmentally friendly. There are special mulching mowers that are available as well. Mulching mowers produce finer and less noticeable clippings that decay faster due to there size.
- Remove the collection bag from the mower to let grass clippings rest on the lawn.
- Mow frequently, about every 5 to 7 during peak growing season and less frequently when lawn is growing slowly.
- Keep mower blade sharp and set to a height of 6 to 7. 5 cm (2. 5 to 3 inches).
- Mow when grass is dry.Follow the 1/3 Rule - mow your lawn often enough so that no more than 1/3 your grass is cut. No more than 2.5 cm (1 inch)should be cut at any one time.
FAQ on Grasscycling
How long do the grass clippings show?Grass clippings are 80-85 percent water and as a result decompose quickly, generally within 3 days after mowing releasing water and valuable nutrients to help establish healthy grass. Conditions that can affect longer breakdown times are later in the growing season when temperatures and moisture content of the grass and environment changes.
Can grass clippings cause thatch?No. Thatch is caused by improper fertilizing and watering that encourages abnormally fast growth of roots and other plant tissues. This type of plant material contains more lignin, a fibrous material, which decomposes slowly.
Will grasscycling make my lawn less attractive?Grasscycling in combination of proper lawn maintenance will produce a healthier yard. Cut lawns regularly to keep clipping length small so that decomposition will take a few days. If clippings are too long or wet they may clump and produce a "hay-like" look which can be unsightly. To avoid this cut regularly and if clumps do occur mow over them again from a different direction to spread clippings out more evenly.
Does grasscycling spreads diseases?No. Watering, fertilization and sharpness of mower blades play a greater role in the occurrences and spread of turf diseases than grasscycling.
Can you grasscycle fall leaves?Leaves take longer than grass clippings to break down and are more visible when scattered on a lawn. It is recommended leaves are collected and put in a backyar compost or placed in the properly marked compostable bags required for the Garden Waste Pick Up program.
Can I add grass clippings to the compost pile?Grass clippings can be a valuable addition to your compost and best used if allowed to dry in the sun before adding. Don't add too much at one time and layer with household organics.
Start back yard composting to help reduce household organic waste and yard waste
Garden Waste Pick Up program Residents can recycle bagged yard waste free of charge by dropping it off at the Regional Landfill or participating in the seasonal Garden Waste Pick Up Program. All leaf and grass clippings must be bagged in the specially marked biodegradable bags – (bags must have logo below on them). Yard waste not in the proper bags will not be accepted.
- For more detailed information on the regional recycling program go to www.recyclemore.ca