Composting your grass clippings is not a difficult process, though it may require a bit more work than you might think and these clippings can sometimes cause problems in your compost pile if not properly composted. Taking a few simple precautions will prevent your grass from turning into a smelly and slimy problem.
Grasscycling is the easiest way to deal with your grass clippings. With grasscycling, you just live the grass clippings on the lawn. If you lave grass clippings where they fall naturally from the mower, they will act like any other natural fertilizer. This will save you money on fertilizer and time on bagging or moving grass cuttings. Any grass mower can become a grasscycler, all you need to do is remove the grass catcher from your lawn mower.
You will need to make sure you are mowing when the grass is dry to prevent the old clippings from clogging up your lawn mower and keep the blade of your mower sharp. Let the grass clipping lie like this is the simplest way to deal with them, though it may not be practical if you have young children or pets.
If the idea of grasscycling does not appeal to you, then here is the proper way to compost your grass clippings.
Your freshly trimmed grass has more moisture and a much higher nitrogen level than most other garden materials. Freshly mowed grass can often clump together and this is a problem because there is no room for oxygen to get in. If you compost your grass clippings like this, you may find that you have a serious odor problem to deal with.
If you follow the process, you should be able to reap the benefits of adding fresh grass clippings to your compost and also avoid any sort of odor problem. Grass can also develop a white mold if there is no air getting in.
To start with, you want to add high carbon materials (also referred to as browns) to your compost pile. These types of materials include wood chips, leaves and broken up sticks. Adding browns to your compost will prevent the grass clippings from clumping up the compost and will help oxygen circulate. You want to alternate your layers, a layer of grass clippings and then one of browns.
You can also get the oxygen in your compost pile circulate by aerating it. Aerating or oxygenating your compost pile involves the turning of the material. If you are going to be adding grass clippings to your pile then you need to make sure that you are aerating your compost pile on a regular basis. If your pile is mainly made up of grass clippings then there is nothing for the gas has nothing to ignite and the pile turns into a disgusting slimy mess.
If you are going to be continually composting your grass clippings then you are going to have more grass clippings than other materials in your compost pile. What is the solution? The solution is obviously multiple compost piles. You will go through a process all summer where you are rotating between the piles and then consolidating piles as they become more manageable.
If you do not want to have two or three compost piles on the go, you can also try baking your grass clippings in the sun for a day before adding them to your compost pile. You can spread them on your driveway or any other flat surface for at least a day to prevent the clippings from souring up your compost pile.
Watch Out for Chemicals
If you have recently applied pesticides or herbicides to your lawn, then you do not want to add those grass clippings to your compost pile until the rain has washed them clean. You really need to be careful about adding clippings to your pile that have come in contact with chemicals like these.
Another tip that you might find useful is to add lime to your compost pile (or grass heap if it is mainly made up of grass). This will kick start the decomposing process and prevent mold from forming and your pile from developing a nasty odor.
Follow these simple guidelines and you should have no problem turning your old grass clippings into compost that will benefit your whole garden.