Lots of people run in to composting problems this time of year when there are large amounts of grass cuttings to deal with.
Fresh grass cuttings are very soft and also very high in moisture. Dumping a mower bag of freshly cut grass straight into your compost heap causes it to form a thick, matted layer that stops air circulation. This will prevent the composting process from working properly, and may cause it to become smelly and unpleasant.
The 5 essentials of composting. Adding large amounts of grass can impact aeration, moisture and the mix of greens and browns.
This doesn’t mean that grass cuttings can’t be put in your composter, just that some extra care is needed.
When you add the grass, spread it out and mix it with roughly an equal quantity of brown materials such as straw, sawdust, shredded paper or autumn leaves. Never just leave it in a pile on top of your compost.
If you do not have enough dry brown materials, spread out the cut grass – on the ground or on a tarp – and allow it to dry for a day or two before adding it to the compost. This will prevent it from clumping and will help it break down faster in your composter. Adding it bit-by-bit will also help.
If you’re reading this and have already thrown a lawn worth of grass on your compost, all is not lost! If possible, add a similar quantity of brown material and mix it into the grass. Keep mixing the grass every few days to stop it matting and to allow air to circulate. Keeping the grass aerated will allow it to breakdown much faster, without becoming smelly.
Although these steps can help you compost grass, the best advice we can give is don’t bother! Start grasscycling instead!
Grasscycling is the natural recycling of grass by leaving grass clippings on the lawn when mowing. Once on the ground, the clippings, which contain 80-85% water, decompose quickly returning valuable nutrients like nitrogen back into the soil.
By cutting no more than 1/3 the length of the grass, the cuttings can fall to ground and break down unseen. During the summer months, you should cut the grass this way once a week leaving 2 ½ to 3 inches (6 – 8 cm) of grass uncut. Cutting the grass when it is dry helps prevent it clumping on the lawn.
Grass-cycling really reduces the amount of time and effort it takes to cut the lawn. People who manage their lawns this way spend on average 1/3 less time managing their grass. To top it all off, leaving cuttings on the ground like this all season provides the same level of nutrients as one fertiliser application per year.
If we haven’t convinced you yet, check out our Guide to Grasscycling for loads more info.
Go on, get your grass in gear!