Can You Compost Grass Clippings? Does It Help Compost?
If you have grass, you’re probably familiar with the large piles of grass clippings left over when you finish mowing. Most people just throw it away with their trash, but did you know that grass clippings are excellent for compost? It’s true! Grass clippings are one of the best things you can add to your compost because they contain large amounts of nitrogen.
Let’s check out how you can use grass to feed your compost, as well as other essential tips to make the most of your compost.
How Do Grass Clippings Help Compost?
Compost requires infusions of both brown and green material for proper decomposition, the latter of which includes grass clippings. The key here is to remember that healthy compost needs both carbon from brown material and nitrogen from green material.
A ratio of 3 to 4 parts brown material to 1 part green material works as a rule of thumb, but there’s no perfect ratio. Some brown material contains more carbon than others, and some green material contains more nitrogen than others.
Green material helps the soil-dwelling microorganisms in the compost break down matter, and the brown material serves as food or fuel for those microorganisms.
Freshly trimmed grass clippings from a healthy lawn are green material. Dried grass would technically be brown material, so bear that in mind when thinking about what to add to your compost.
While it’s tempting to just chuck all your grass clippings in the compost, you have to consider whether the compost needs more green or brown material, or perhaps both. If there’s an excess of green material in the bin, it risks fire because of excessive nitrogen.
Conversely, too much brown material means the compost won’t decompose. Also, a lack of green material will lead to the compost appearing lifeless. Healthy compost should have worms, fungus, and other signs of life.
How to Tell if You Need Green Material in Your Compost
It’s far more common to overload compost with green material than brown, but it’s a mistake to add too much of either.
When Should I Not Use Grass Clippings for Compost?
You shouldn’t add grass clippings to compost if you already have an abundance of green material without enough brown material. There are a few ways you can tell if you need more brown material in your compost, and under these circumstances, you shouldn’t add lawn clippings. Rather, keep them bagged up to use later.
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Compost needs a healthy balance of green and brown material to break down correctly, and grass clippings are an excellent example of green material. They add much-needed nitrogen to the compost and help it break down brown material. Too much green has its downsides, however, so be mindful of what you add to your compost.
Featured Image Credit: Ian Francis, Shutterstock