‘Leave it on the lawn’ and other yard waste management tips

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‘Leave it on the lawn’ and other yard waste management tips

Yard waste makes up approximately 15 percent of the materials that end up in landfills. Most of your yard waste CAN be recycled, so why throw it out with the trash? 

An easy way to reduce the amount of yard waste that winds up in landfills is by grasscycling: the practice of leaving your grass clippings on the lawn instead of bagging and throwing them away with your trash. Some of the benefits of grasscycling include a healthier looking lawn, saving time, and eliminating the cost for collection and disposal.

Proper mowing is the key to grasscycling: cut your grass 1/3 of the length of the grass blade at one time. Your grass should be dry and your mower blades sharp. In the fast growing season, you may have to cut every seven days, but in the slower growing season you might only need to cut your lawn every seven to 14 days.

When properly clipped, grass decomposes quickly and releases nutrients back into the soil. Grasscycling also greatly reduces the need for fertilizer because grass clippings return nitrogen to the soil.

Cutting grass shorter and more frequently deprives your lawn’s root system of nutrients and moisture. Longer grass blades create more shade, provide the soil protection from the sun and even help squeeze out weeds.

If you use a landscape service to maintain your property, grasscycling will save the company time because there are no clippings that require collection and disposal. Encourage your landscaper to grasscycle!

Common misconceptions of grasscycling include:

  • Grasscycling causes thatch buildup. Studies prove that grass roots are the primary cause of thatch, not grass clippings. In addition, a small amount of thatch is actually beneficial, serving as mulch by preventing water evaporation and soil compaction.
  • Grasscycling spreads lawn disease. The primary cause of disease spread is improper watering and fertilizing. If a disease is present, infestation will occur whether you are grasscycling or not.
  • My lawn will look bad. Grasscycling actually gives you a healthier looking lawn if it is mowed, watered, and fertilized properly.

Almost any mower will work by raising the cutting height. If your mower has a collection bag, remove it to allow clippings to drop into the soil. However, if your mower does not have a safety flap covering the opening where the bag fits into the chute, or a plug for the chute, contact your local retailer to purchase a retrofit kit.

During a time when your grass cannot be mowed as frequently, you might have an excess of clippings. Take this opportunity to put your clippings in a backyard compost pile. You can also bring them to the Boone Grove compost site