You Can Recycle Your Lawn! It’s Called Grasscycling

Do you still maintain your own yard? According to the Texas Don’t Bag It campaign, after mulching mowers were provided to 184 homeowners who had previously bagged clippings, the participants rated their lawns 30% better than the year before.

Does someone else take care of your yard? Did you know it’s illegal for your lawn maintenance, landscapers, or tree trimming companies to leave your yard waste for City pickup?

Per City of Bellaire Code of Ordinances Chapter 16 – Solid Waste, Section 16-7: It shall be unlawful for any commercial tree trimming, lawn maintenance, gardening or landscaping services, handymen or any others not considered the occupant who shall be employed within the city limits of the city to prune or trim and tree, hedge, or bush, to fail to haul away grass, tree, hedge, bush and landscape trimmings from the city limits of the city to a point outside the city limits of the city.

The grass left on the lawn after mowing is referred to as lawn clippings. Lawn clippings provide nutrients for the lawn as well as acting as a retainer to seal the moisture into the ground. At most times it is beneficial for the lawn to have the clippings left on top of the grass. As the remnants from the lawn decompose they release valuable levels nitrogen into the lawn allowing it to be fertilized.

Grass clippings are often bagged and hauled to landfills. The EPA estimates that yard waste accounts for 18% of the refuse that we historically have dumped into landfills, a figure that rises as high as 50% during the growing season. Typical yard waste is composed of approximately 25% tree leaves and limbs, and 75% grass clippings

Dumping of grass clippings has become a problem because landfills are running out of space. In addition, valuable commodities from grass clippings in the form of plant organic matter and the nutrients derived from it are being discarded as a waste material! When clippings are continually removed from a lawn, natural nutrient cycling is reduced.  These lawn clippings could provide more than twenty five percent of the fertilizer needs of your lawn.

An environmentally sound option is the direct return of fresh clippings to the lawn in a technique known as Grasscycling. This effectively eliminates the need to haul grass clippings to a landfill. Still want to bag while mowing? For home lawns, clippings could be bagged and removed from priority areas and spread onto lower visibility areas in gardens and beds. In these cases, excess fresh grass clippings may be treated as a type of organic fertilizer or soil conditioner. Or added to the compost bin.

There are instances when lawn clippings are not beneficial to the lawn. If mowing while the grass is wet – the clippings will only adhere to the lawn and cause a lumpy appearance which is not only unsightly but unhealthy for the lawn as well. These large wet clumps smother the grass from receiving sun, nutrients and water.  But they are good for the compost bin!

If the lawn is diseased than the grass clippings should be removed from the lawn immediately. The clippings will only increase the risk of the disease spreading and becoming more of a problem. Removing the clippings will help further prevent the disease, as there is less grass in the diseased population.