There are so many benefits we gain from having lawns that there simply is no question as to their worth for all of us. But good lawn care also includes regular lawn mowing routines to maintain our lawns at optimum health and beauty. The end product of all this lawn mowing throughout the year is an abundance of lawn clippings which then need to be disposed of.
Disposing of lawn clippings can be a costly exercise even though we may not be immediately aware of its true expense. But lets stop and think about all those millions and millions of acres of lawns around the country, all being mowed regularly. This produces an enormous amount of waste material which then must be disposed of in rubbish trucks and into land fills. The question we must all ask ourselves is if all of that energy and manpower is really necessary to rid ourselves of this natural by-product, and with all the environmental benefits produced by lawns - are we undoing it all through the disposal of our lawn clippings? Well, the overwhelming answer to this question is yes we are undoing a great deal of the environmental benefits our lawn produce by these waste disposal practices.
Nutrients In Lawn Clippings
So how can we recycle these lawn clippings and exactly what is in lawn clippings that could be used for something else?
Lawn clippings hold around 75% of their weight in water alone, so if we imagine a 4 ton truck full of lawn clippings, the truck is actually carting 3 tons of water! This is a purely wasteful exercise, in both energy and manpower expenses. The rest of the lawn clippings are made of simple fibers and are full of nutrients that lawns and soils love and thrive on, so the natural use of these clippings would be to use them for a perfect purpose they are naturally made for. Which is to return them straight back into our lawns and / or soils and let them release all their nutrients and goodness for the benefit of our gardens, and to bypass the rubbish trucks and all the associated pollution and wastefulness they involve altogether.
There are three main ways to recycle lawn clippings, and each home and lawn may require a different method recycling, or even a mix of all three methods. The choice is entirely up to the homeowner, so lets take a look at all three methods.
Returning Clippings To The Lawn
This method involves mowing our lawns without a catcher, and leaving the clippings on the lawn to break down and deteriorate their nutrients straight back into the lawn. This is a great method for recycling lawn clippings and it doesn't get any easier. The greatest result from using this method is to ensure lawns are mowed regularly so the clippings are as small as possible, which then break down much quicker. Another way to ensure the clippings are as small as possible is to use a lawn mower with a mulching plug, these lawn mowers have 4 blades and the mulching system spins the clippings through the lawn mower blades many more times to finely chop up the leaf material. Though this doesn't work as well when mowing wet grass.
If you own a compost pile, then you're likely to already be utilizing this valuable resource in your compost, lawn clippings are the raw fuel which fires up the composting process, and they break down to create a wonderful nutrient rich compost for use on all gardens. If you don't already own a compost pile, then you really are missing out on one the greatest resources possible to create a fantastic soil for your entire garden and the plants they contain. Compost will greatly reduce or eliminate the need for many garden fertilizers, and reduce the need for any purchase of extra soils to supplement or boost the nutrient profile in the soils of your garden, reducing even more trips to the garden and landscape yard.
Composting is also a great way to use all those leaves, small twigs and other garden waste and kitchen waste in the best way possible - which is to create a beautiful healthy garden. And best of all, the cost of gaining a wonderfully rich and beautiful garden using this method is free!
Straight Into The Garden
The final method of recycling lawn clippings is to dig them straight into the garden bed, this can be a great choice for when gardens are limited in the plants they contain. To do this properly, the clippings will have to be really dung into the soil with a spade, mixing the soil and lawn clippings together. This allows the micro-organisms in the soil to reach all the lawn clippings and begin feeding on all the nutrients they contain which can then be returned to the soil.
It is important when using this method that lawn clipping aren't just left to sit on top of the garden bed, because they will not break down because they are not surrounded by the micro-organisms from the soil which actually break them down. Clippings left on top of the garden bed can also create a water proof layer which will allow water to run off the garden bed without being absorbed.
It is also important not to just dig a hole and put the clippings inside and then cover it up, this only creates a big clump of clippings which is also isolated from the important soil micro-organisms, doing this can cause the clippings to take years to break down instead of weeks.
So dig in those clippings well - and you'll start gaining an almost instant benefit!