Why Recycle Your Lawn Grass Clippings?

Download a printable copy of this information (PDF) »

There are plenty of good reasons to leave these nutrient-rich clippings on your freshly mowed lawn. Let’s look at a few of them.

  • Did you know that a ½ acre lawn produces over 3 tons or nearly 260 bags of grass clippings each year? Think of all the time, money and effort it would take to bag all those clippings. Why go through all that hassle when it’s really not necessary?
  • Recycling clippings back into the lawn requires less effort than disposing of them as waste. No one has to handle the clippings – not you, not your lawn care professional and not the waste management crew. You can reduce your mowing time by nearly 40% by not bagging, and spend less money on fertilizer and trash bags. And by not trashing grass, you’ll be doing your part for the environment by reducing waste!
  • Nitrogen! Grass clippings are a rich organic source of nitrogen. In fact, 4 percent of clippings are composed of the nutrient. Regular recycling of clippings can reduce the amount of annual nitrogen fertilizing by one fourth. Three years of recycling can add nearly 2 pounds of nitrogen annually to 1,000 square feet of lawn.
  • Many municipalities no longer pick up grass clippings, because of limited space in landfills. It may surprise you to learn that approximately half the landfills in America ban grass clippings.
  • Well-chopped grass clippings decompose rapidly, usually within a few weeks.
  • Clippings conserve water in two ways: they are 90% water and return moisture to the soil. They also add organic material to the soil, which conserves water.
  • It’s simple…grass clippings left on the lawn will decompose and act as a natural organic fertilizer. This allows you to reduce the amount of additional commercial fertilizer you need to apply. Your lawn will still be healthy and green because each time you mow, you will be returning valuable nutrients to the soil!

Mowing Techniques & Tips

  • Any mower can recycle grass clippings. Simply remove the grass catcher! Ask your lawn mower dealer if a special safety plug or adaptor kit is needed to convert your mower into a “recycling” mower. You can also have a mulching blade installed.
  • Keep your grass mowed to 2″- 3″ tall.
  • Do not remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade in any single mowing. For example, if your lawn is kept at 2″ tall, it should not be allowed to grow higher than 3″ before it is mowed again
  • Mow when the grass is dry.
  • Keep your mower blade sharp, because dull mowers tear the grass blade, injuring the plant, and create a brownish cast to the turf.
  • If the grass gets a bit too high, simply mow over the clippings a second time to further shred and scatter them.
  • If excessive growth occurs between mowings, raise the mower height, mow, and then gradually lower it over a span of several mowings. This will help prevent shock to the plants.
  • When it’s time to replace your mower, consider buying a mulching, recycling, or a non-polluting reel mower. All of these do a good job of shredding and scattering grass clippings.