Mowing the lawn is a necessary evil for many hobby gardeners, for others it is the ideal opportunity to relax through exercise in the fresh air, sun and the scent of the freshly mown meadow. In the end, however, they all have to face one problem: the increasing amount of grass clippings. Simply leave it there, compost or dispose of it in some other way – opinions differ greatly here. The following instructions and tips can help you get the most out of your lawn clippings instead of just removing them. The supposed problem can even save money.
Brief profile of the lawn:
- The dense vegetation is only called lawn if it is cut regularly
- Is divided into different types for the respective purposes of use
- Although monocultures are decorative, they are also more fragile and offer little food for gardeners
- Only frequent, regular waste leads to an even surface
- Numerous measures and extensive care are often necessary for a healthy appearance
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Whether on small or large green areas, lawn clippings can quickly become a waste problem. If the grass has not been cut in a while, the stalks are too long to just lie on the lawn. On the other hand, excessively large quantities or damp lawn clippings can damage the compost. Often the only thing that seems to be left is to dispose of the cuttings with household or organic waste.
The nutrients it contains could be useful and used in your own garden.
If you start the lawnmower regularly – preferably at least once a week – you don’t suddenly have to deal with huge amounts of clippings. In addition, the clippings are then significantly finer and shorter, which means that they can remain directly on the lawn. It is easier to compact for disposal, so weekly mowing is also an advantage here. Even in the compost, the clippings take up less space.
Due to the finer texture and the smaller amount, the lawn clippings can still be dried faster and easier. This has two advantages and, if you proceed correctly, it reduces the risk of mold growth.
Grass clippings are easily digestible food for the soil dwellers, which is nevertheless quite rich in nutrients. These useful animals, in turn, make for a wonderful cultivation of the earth. Simply leaving the clippings lying around not only reduces the effort involved in maintenance, it is also a wonderful fertilizer and ensures improved aeration of the soil.
Therefore, the cuttings can not only remain on the lawn itself, it can and should occasionally also be scattered on beds, tree grates and under bushes. However, only as a very thin layer and only if the individual stalks are no longer than four or five centimeters. The shorter and finer the clippings, the faster it is broken down.
If you can’t get used to the sight of clippings as mulch, you should work this a little into the soil. In any case, this is recommended for substrates that tend to compact.
A time interval of four to six weeks is recommended for mulching with lawn clippings.
Immediately after mowing, especially in damp weather, the clippings often tend to rot and mold. If it is disposed of anyway, it doesn’t matter, of course. Even if it is used as a thin layer for mulching, it can remain moist or even wet.
The situation is different if the crop is actually to continue to be used in the garden or is particularly long. For this purpose, the previous drying is recommended. For this purpose, the lawn clippings are spread out as thinly as possible, kept airy and protected from rain. A close-meshed net or grid is ideal, but well-ventilated boxes are also suitable.
Depending on the weather and the amount, this process takes two to seven days. It can be accelerated by turning the clippings every now and then. The hay produced in this way can then be composted safely and without the risk of rotting, but it can also be used as animal feed or litter. If such animals are not kept themselves, it is often worth asking neighbors and acquaintances. It is not uncommon for permanent customers to be found here who also dry the grass clippings themselves. The waste problem has quickly taken care of itself.
If you don’t keep rabbits, guinea pigs or other pets that eat hay or need litter, you can use the lawn clippings for composting in addition to mulching. Small amounts can go straight to the compost heap or the composting bin. However, it is advisable to spread this thinly or evenly distribute it.
Larger amounts of clippings, on the other hand, must first be dried and even then should only be applied to the compost in thin layers. The following best practices are recommended for using lawn clippings:
- Store the lawn clippings in a well-ventilated area for at least a week, especially if they are very short or damp, until they are completely dry.
- Apply the dry hay to the compost in thin layers or alternatively mix it with compost or soil.
- In order to avoid bad smells caused by rot and to improve the quality of the compost soil, when adding lawn clippings – regardless of whether they are dry or damp – ensure that there is a sufficient supply of air. Turning has proven itself here.
If there is no space to dry the clippings or if the mowing is only done in dry weather, the cuttings can also be composted directly. However, there is also a risk of mold and rot. The following guide will significantly reduce the risk of this:
- If necessary, loosen the grass clippings evenly.
- Then mix with coarser material such as chopped branches, twigs or brushwood.
- The mixture of shredded material and grass can be applied directly to the compost or mixed with compost soil that has already been prepared.
Even with this approach, however, it is advisable to additionally ensure ventilation by occasionally loosening or turning.
Grass clippings as dry material
Algae from the garden pond, thick-fleshed leaves and other moist waste that ends up on the compost will find the right counter-component in already dried lawn clippings. The cuttings absorb the excess water, distribute the moisture in the compost better and then dry off faster. The prerequisite for this is that it is mixed in well and evenly and that the compost is turned over.
Otherwise, the dry clippings themselves can clump together and become the basis for mold as a result of the re-absorbed liquid. The fine hay can still be used at any time as an addition to very watery compost layers.
In addition to being used as hay, in compost or as mulch, lawn clippings can also be used in other ways. The most practical uses are here:
- Component in vegetable manure
- Support for fallow areas
- Direct lawn fertilization
manure Manure from nettles or other herbaceous plants is familiar to many hobby gardeners, but the fermentation of lawn clippings also has convincing advantages. The nutrients contained in the grass are quickly made available in the solution and thus serve as an organic direct fertilizer – which is also absolutely free and does not pollute the environment.
About one kilo of lawn clippings can be added to ten liters of water. The finer, the better the nutrients are extracted and the sooner fermentation begins. The process continues to be driven by high temperatures. The liquid manure is ready when no more bubbles rise from it when it is stirred. This is the case after three to five days at the earliest, but should occur after two weeks at the latest.
Lawn cut as a bedding has already been mentioned in the case of planted areas, but the mowed material can also do a wonderful job in fallow areas. However, it can and should be applied much thicker on unplanted areas. Several layers can easily land here – as long as they always have enough time to dry off individually or to work a little underground.With this approach, the lawn cut mainly fulfills three tasks:
- Fertilization of the substrate
- Aeration of the soil by supplying the soil dwellers
- Weed suppression
Anyone who has to fear rot from soil that is prone to compaction or in very damp weather, should dry the lawn clippings before spreading it or combine it with coarse material. Fabrics that naturally reduce mold are also ideal combinations. These include:
- Coconut phases
As a rule, however, it is sufficient to apply the grass clippings only in thin layers or to hook them in regularly.
Lawn mowers with a mulching function or mulching mowers are another alternative for using lawn clippings in the garden. There is no need for a grass catcher, the clippings are distributed comparatively evenly on the lawn and can thus be used directly as fertilizer.
When using these devices or functions, however, you should really proceed on a regular basis. Only if the mowing is done as often as possible will the cut remain fine and short. If the clippings become too coarse, they will remain on the lawn for too long. This not only disturbs the appearance, but also suffocates the growth in the long term. This in turn leads to discoloration, holes and general thinning.
Neither the lawn nor the garden benefit from it. If you cannot start the lawnmower regularly due to work-related or restrictive rules, you should rely on a device with an optional mulching function. In this way, the grass catcher can be removed or attached depending on the height of the grass.
Combination of measures
In the case of very small areas, it may be possible to use the clippings exclusively by mulching or using the compost. On the other hand, it is often necessary to use all recycling options in combination.
If space is limited, the lawn clippings can be kept dry week after week in a high basket with good ventilation. In late autumn it is also available as winter protection for other crops or can be used as animal feed. With these two possible uses, however, it is of particular importance to reliably prevent mold. In both plants and animals, rotting hay could cause dangerous diseases, so it could do more harm than good. Covered, dry storage, occasional turning during the initial drying process and checks before use are therefore essential. Hanging up in small quantities during storage is also recommended, as this ensures a better air supply – mold cannot develop as quickly as a result. If the hay is hanging in damp rooms, there is of course still a risk of rot. Well-thought-out ventilation and storage in small, loosened quantities are therefore sensible. If the grass clippings are completely dry, however, they can also be compressed in very dry areas.
If several processes and uses are combined with one another, the lawn clippings neither have to end up in the garbage nor become a problem. Instead, it can be used profitably on green and fallow land as mulch, hay, manure, fertilizer and winter protection. It is thus possible to save money and protect the environment with little effort.