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Soil and Composting: what to do with my grass clippings... ?

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FrillyLily
springfield area, MO
(Zone 5b)

May 31, 2010
7:49 AM

Post #7845339

we have a large yard, and when we mow, the grass clippings are bagged, and dumped in a 'mountain' on the back corner. Of course I silly-ly thought this would 'break down' or disappear I guess :) After 2 years it is rather large. It also contains all of our fall leaves. We don't really have a way to 'stir' it, or turn it over. I don't want to burn here. I'm not sure what to do with it? It is so far away from the house, that a water hose won't reach so there is no way to keep it wet regularly. I thought about putting them around my trees instead of mulch, but still will have a lot left. There is also a TON of weed cuttings as most of our 'lawn' is weeds. I do not have access to manure, we live in a subdivision. Any ideas on what to do with this stuff? It is so much trouble to haul it off. (don't have a way to load it...) I thought about advertising it for free, would anyone take it? What would happen if I covered it with a tarp? would that hold moisture in it and help it to rot faster? please help! I'm drowning in lawn clippings!

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

May 31, 2010
8:36 AM

Post #7845458

FrillyLily - have you used weed killer on your grass? If so, depending on what type you used, you may not be able to use it in your vegetable garden. Some weed killers stay viable for a long time, and using your clippings as mulch will kill your veggies. Personally, I never use weed killer, so am not familiar with the type that stays around for awhile.

If you have never used weed killer, then you can use your grass clippings as mulch. I like to dry mine out a bit first so they don't get "hot" and kill my plants. About a two inch depth is good.

I am surprised your "mountain" of grass clippings has not shrunk. Usually grass clippings will decompose quite quickly. You may be pleasantly surprised to fined some good black soil on the bottom layer. If so, you can incorporate it with the rest of your garden soil, your plants will love it!
FrillyLily
springfield area, MO
(Zone 5b)

May 31, 2010
9:16 AM

Post #7845552

no I do not use killers on the lawn area, the grass would just be going around trees anyway, not in the veg garden.
It is humongous LOL

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

May 31, 2010
9:29 AM

Post #7845591

FrillyLily - Do you use mulch in your veggie garden? If not, grass clippings do a great job. They are, of course, also good for trees, shrubs, etc.

When hubby mows the grass, he spreads around the fall leaves we collect in bags, so they get mowed too. Then they are added to the compost pile. Sometimes, he'll run the mower through the leaves several times so I can use them as mulch. Leaves that have not been mulched do not work well, in my opinion, because they prevent rain from penetrating through to the soil beneath.

Let me know whether or not I was right about there being some nice "dirt" at the bottom of that pile of grass :)
FrillyLily
springfield area, MO
(Zone 5b)

May 31, 2010
2:53 PM

Post #7846502

well my dh tried to dig some worms out there a few days ago and couldn't come up with much, so I doubt there is any dirt, maybe farther in, but the pile must be 5 foot tall or greater now. I would not hesitate a moment to put it around my trees and stuff, but it is SOOO full of weed seeds, I am worried about using it on the garden or in my flowers. He uses a leaf vacuum to pick up the leaves, there is no way we could mulch them with the mower as there are so many. Well they are mulched down pretty good anyway because many of them he picks up w the mower, we have a bagger too. Do you think the only reason it is not breaking down is that it is not turned?

cindylove
Lewisville, TX
(Zone 7b)

May 31, 2010
5:01 PM

Post #7846893

FrillyLily, I am new to composting, but it's not really difficult to learn... I have read that composting needs to be aerated..so if you are not turning the pile regularly that could be why it's not decomposing well. Having water in there is not a problem the way you are getting it.. but I think when you aerate you will get better moisture needed & that will help a lot.
Hope this helps you.
PuddlePirate
North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

May 31, 2010
5:13 PM

Post #7846946

I use one of these to aerate my pile that sits beside my house. Pretty effective tool! http://www.google.com/products?q=achla compost aerator&show=li&lnk=pruser&price1=&price2=50
cindylove
Lewisville, TX
(Zone 7b)

May 31, 2010
6:14 PM

Post #7847108

yes Puddle, that's what I am talking about.. I saw one in Gardener's Supply around $20, but of course from your thread I see it's cheaper! hahaha
FrillyLily
springfield area, MO
(Zone 5b)

May 31, 2010
7:47 PM

Post #7847397

well, my problems is solved! While I was debating with my neighbor about my problem, he said he would love to have the clippings. !!!

So now when I mow, I will simply dump them at his place!

Thank you guys for all the suggestions.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

June 1, 2010
9:27 AM

Post #7848571

FrillyLily - if I had been your neighbor, that would have been my solution too!

I'm glad your clippings have found a home :)

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

June 19, 2010
12:53 PM

Post #7903043

Um, I beg to differ with the need to turn that pile, only from my own experience.

As an UBERnewbie, I was quite concerned because my attempt at a little compost pile NEVER, EVER, not even ONCE, got hot and steamy...but, then again, I was layering confetti shredder paper, coffee grinds, veggie peel slush and leaves, and keeping it well moistened, and, and, and...anyone see the missing ingredient? GRASS! Because we have stray cats using OUR yard as the neighborhood latrine, I banned all grass clippings from my compost pile. So, I was missing that all-important NITROGEN fire-starter.

Now. Fast forward to the day I happened to be standing way out back where my DH had HIS compost pile. The one with all the mostly GRASS clippings and the leaves I didn't manage to grab before he dumped em all together...The one with all the HOT STEAM wafting up before my very eyes!!! And, I'm yelling and jumping up and down 'cause he's got HEAT!!! LOTS of heat!!!!

And, he looks at me and says, "It ALWAYS gets hot..." Just like that. Like, "what's wrong with you?"

And, he has NEVER, EVER, not even ONCE, turned that pile, or watered it, or fed it, or done anything to it except dump more of those grass clippings and leaves on the pile whenever he mows the grass. And, you wouldn't believe how many years worth of ULTRA RICH, BLACK GOLD, organic compost is sitting underneath his pile...and, because it gets so hot, all the weed seeds AND the cat scat pathogens are kept in check, so it's safe to use everywhere (although, I still refuse to use it on my veggies)...

And, like my friend Forest would say, "That's all ah got tah say about that..."

Linda
WormsLovSharon
Las Vegas, NV

June 19, 2010
10:41 PM

Post #7904357

My parents piled anything that was green brown and not meat in the compost pile. They also had at least three piles going at one time. They moved into a home site in 1945 that was basically a ditch in the back landscape with rock and blow sand. The house had one bedroom & one bath with just about a kitchen if you call 5' x 6' a kitchen. They moved into this home with 2 children and it cost $5,000.

Well soon there was two more children and daddy was always working on the home to make it bigger. When I was 8 I was taught how to shovel dirt into a wheel barrel. Daddy was digging a basement under our existing home. He used dynamite. It was actually exciting. Daddy was a miner and he knew what he was doing. So he would get the dynamite ready and then the call, would come, "Everyone out of the house". We would all run out of the house and the blast would go off.

See what a boring life I had. My father always sprayed DDT over our heads to kill the grasshoppers. I am actually surprised we are still alive.

Daddy hauled in dirt for years from the lower valley to fill in the garden area which each year got bigger. You have to realize that he had this small pick up truck, worked and only had one day a week to haul dirt. And did not have enough gas to make to many trips. My parents were such wonderful providers and did it what ever way they had to do. My father felt it was deer season when the freezer was empty. The game warden tried to catch three fathers in the neighborhood but never caught them,. I did not taste beef until I was 18. I liked venison better, If you can grow for your family why not grow for 5 more.

They taught me everything I know about gardening through hands on, and how to use dynamite, LOL, and were totally great parents that took you down the road to life. I have attached a photo at their 50th anniversary.

Thumbnail by WormsLovSharon
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

June 19, 2010
11:03 PM

Post #7904372

Worms,
That's a wonderful tribute to your loving parents. Thanks for sharing your experience!
CapeCodGardener
Mid-Cape, MA
(Zone 7a)

June 20, 2010
7:34 PM

Post #7906445

Sharon, what a lovely appreciation of your dad on Father's Day. And how lucky for you that they were such great gardeners.
Love the image of the dynamite exploding!
WormsLovSharon
Las Vegas, NV

June 20, 2010
8:15 PM

Post #7906510

When you look back it is beautiful but when you are living it, it is He**. But my father meant well and in the end we all ended up being fine citizens, making a living and having wonderful families.
Daddy was so funny, they had some small rentals that mother bought for a song. He collected the rent. There was no mortgage. Daddy took the rent to the bank and got it changed, from 4 units to cash, which he always had in his pocket. You need to know that when he was a young man in his 20s during the depression he would drive a truck for 8 hours for $25. Sometimes he would not get paid, or run out of gas and he had no cash.

So when he got called into the Army, it was a blessing. Then he had their physical and Daddy only had one eye from a rock hitting him in the eye when he was 10. Therefore, he was sent to Nevada to work in the mines that the United States had taken over because of the war. He was very disturbed that he would have to stay behind and when myself, 4 months old, November, very cold and snow, and Mother showed , he did not expect the wrath of Mother.

Pioche, Nevada was did not have housing fit for beast let alone a mother and child. One room shack put up by the government, dirt floors, no plumbing, no running water and enough electricity for one light bulb.

My mother just about turned back the next day but she did not. I would be Einstein, except I was not allowed to crawl because the only place I could crawl would be on dirt floors and that was not allowed. If you do not know, crawling makes your brain smarter.

They cursed Piochde for 5 years and as soon as the war was over the were leaving. But when the time came to leave, they stayed and died there. Daddy 84 and mother 9 years later at 87. I still smile when I think how they got there and how they loved their life there. Daddy, always said he was going to be the last guy out to turn out the lights. He had one friend that outlived him by 4 months.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY DADDY...
GardenSox
Sacramento, CA
(Zone 9a)

June 25, 2010
4:09 PM

Post #7920503

Frilly, it sounds like you've already figured out a good solution to your situation, but I couldn't resist speaking up with my own suggestion (in case your neighbor ever changes his mind). For most of the year I remove the bag from my mower and let the grass clippings fall where they are. I've read that doing this over the course of a season returns about the same amount of nitrogen to the soil as one fertilization would.

heathrjoy
Weedville, PA
(Zone 6a)

August 29, 2010
10:16 AM

Post #8068698

My very best use for grass clippings is use as an organic weed killer. Just simply pile those grass clippings up on top of the weeds (cut the weeds down to ground or ankle height first, but you don't HAVE to)...then wait. Pile up some more next time you mow. Let it lay there for a month or two. When you're ready to plant, the weeds are dead and you've got a ready made fertilizer/mulch/soil conditioner all in one. I will spread the grass clippings out in the shape of the bed if I have enough of them...think of it as the first layer of lasagna gardening. Because the grass clippings keep the light out the weeds will die...as long as you don't mow over it and remove the grass! Same idea as a tarp, but not as ugly. As a mulch they hold in the moisture. As a soil conditioner they help break up the soil and keep oxygen in. As a fertilizer they are just rotting material once they start to break down...and they bring in those worms. Good, good stuff, and FREE!!
MGCrystal
Fredericksburg, VA
(Zone 7a)

October 10, 2010
5:51 AM

Post #8147996

Funny, I drag my husband out Thursday nights to collect bagged grass clippings and leaves. He thinks I'm crazy but we have fun with it. I use it to make new garden beds (sheet composting), as mulch in the garden and trees and shrubs in the lawn area and what ever is left goes int he compost pile.
patgeorge
Nurmo
Finland
(Zone 4b)

October 10, 2010
10:07 AM

Post #8148337

I agree with sox. Every time you take the clippings away you're removing nutrients from the soil. However you need to mow regularly so that the clippings are short. (but don't set the mower height too low.)

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