Grass Clippings

Recycling Turf Grass Clippings

Grass clippings and other yard debris represent a large percentage of solid waste deposited in landfills. An analysis of the composition of residential waste in Cincinnati, Ohio showed that yard debris (leaves, pruning, and grass clippings) accounted for nearly 20% of the total. A study in Plano, Texas (population 80,000) revealed that over 700 tons of grass clippings were collected and disposed of in landfills each week. In addition to the demand for landfill space, collection and disposal of this waste material is expensive.

The obvious solution to the clipping disposal problem is recycling. This can be accomplished easily by returning the clippings to the lawn. If performed correctly, returning grass clippings should not detract from the appearance of the lawn or cause an accumulation of thatch. In fact, this practice will reduce the labor involved in bagging and return essential nutrients to the soil. Research at Penn State has shown that over a three year period, the leaf clippings from Kentucky bluegrass contained between 46 to 59% of nitrogen (N) applied as fertilizer. 

When clippings are returned, a substantial amount of N and other nutrients can be used by the turf, thus, significantly reducing fertilizer requirements. There are several tools and management practices that can be used to make the recycling process more efficient. View a few of the more effective practices visit the PennState Extension website.