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57 Ways To Protect Your Home Environment (and Yourself)
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30. Recycle Grass Clippings

bagging grass clippings

Numerous municipalities have begun to refuse to pick up grass clippings and leaves because of reduced landfill availability. In fact, some states have banned yard waste in landfills.

Many homeowners are bagging clippings to be sent to a regional composting facility (where one exists), while others are using mulching lawn mowers. A mulching mower reduces the size of clippings and spreads them back on the grass, where they rapidly decompose and return to the soil.

mulching mower

Grass clippings are a valuable organic source of nutrients, especially nitrogen. Some mulching-mower users have found that yearly nitrogen applications may be reduced by one-fourth when grass is returned to the turf.
rotary mower

Although mulching mowers and mulching attachments for existing mowers can reduce clipping size, thus increasing the rate that grass clippings decompose, you can get the same effect with a normal rotary mower. Mowing on a regular basis with a sharp blade usually produces clippings that decompose fairly quickly.

In Forth Worth, Texas, participants in the “Don’t Bag It” program said, on average, they felt that their lawns looked 30 percent better when they let the clippings remain than when they previously had collected the clippings. Cities with similar programs report reduced garbage loads and healthier lawns, trees and shrubs.

Leaving clippings on the lawns does not necessarily cause problems with thatch buildup. You may encounter problems with thatch whether you use a mulching mower or not. Thatch can be controlled with vertical mowing, core aerification, and proper watering and fertilization.

If you prefer not to leave clippings on the lawn, or if raking up clippings is a good job for the kids, you may want to consider using collected clippings as mulch or as a component in a compost pile (which in turn will produce nutrient-rich soil conditioners).
storing grass clippings

If you have recently treated your lawn with herbicides, wait for three mowings before using grass clippings as mulch. It is possible for herbicide residues to damage garden crops if you use recently treated clippings as mulch. If you put clippings in a compost, on the other hand, pesticides rapidly degrade.

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