What To Do With Cut Grass: Tips For Recycling Grass Clippings

Person Mowing Lawn
grass clippings
(Image credit: BradWolfe)

Everyone likes a tidy lawn, but that can be hard to achieve without cutting the grass regularly and finding something to do with all the clippings that are left. What to do with cut grass? You may be surprised at how many grass clipping uses there are that go well beyond simply leaving them where they lay on the ground.

Recycling Grass Clippings

One obvious option is to simply leave the clippings on your lawn. Many people go this route simply because it is easier, but there are other good reasons to do it. Mulched up grass clippings will decompose pretty quickly, providing nutrients for the soil and helping the grass continue to grow well. Grass cuttings are particularly useful in adding nitrogen to the soil. You can practice this simple type of recycling just by using a typical lawn mower with sharp blades and cutting the grass regularly. You can also use a mulching mower, which will chop the cut grass up into smaller pieces. A mulching mower, or a special attachment for your standard mower, speeds the decomposition, but it isn’t necessary.

Other Uses for Grass Cuttings

Some people report that their lawns are healthier when they mulch the clippings and leave them on the ground, but others don’t care for the untidy look. If you are in the latter camp, you may be wondering what to do with grass clippings to get them off the lawn. Here are some options:

  • Add grass clippings to your compost pile. Grass adds valuable nutrients, especially nitrogen to compost mixes.
  • Use your collected grass clippings as natural mulch. Pile it up in flower beds and around vegetables to hold in water, keep the soil warm, and discourage weeds. Just don’t lay it on too thick.
  • Turn the clippings into the soil that you are preparing for a flower bed, vegetable garden, or any other area where you are going to plant something.

There are times when recycling grass clippings doesn’t make sense. For instance, if the grass has been allowed to grow very long or it is going to be wet when you cut it, the clippings will clump together and could damage the growing grass. Also, if you have disease in your lawn or have recently sprayed it with weed killer, you don’t want to recycle those clippings. In those cases, you can bag it up and put it out with yard waste, according to your city’s or county’s rules.

Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.