What to Do with Garden Clippings



Ever stood in your verdant sanctuary, garden shears in hand, surrounded by the day’s clippings, and pondered the fate of these green remnants? You’re not alone. As we trim and tidy our personal patches of Earth, the question of what to do with garden clippings becomes more than a matter of mere disposal; it’s a call to sustainable action.

The environmental impact of garden waste is not trivial. When sent to landfills, organic matter like grass clippings produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. This article peels back the layers of the compost heap, so to speak, to reveal creative and sustainable ways to make the most of your garden clippings. From grasscycling to composting, mulching to lasagna gardening, we’ll explore a variety of methods that not only benefit the environment but also enhance the health and beauty of your garden. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and dig into the green, grassy world of garden clipping utilization.

The Benefits of Grasscycling

Grasscycling might just be the unsung hero of lawn care. It’s a simple concept: leave the grass clippings on your lawn after mowing. These clippings then decompose, releasing valuable nutrients back into the soil. It’s a natural fertilizer that doesn’t cost a dime and spares you from the extra chore of bagging and disposing of the clippings. But the benefits don’t stop there. Grasscycling helps conserve water by keeping the soil moist, which means your lawn needs less irrigation. It also plays a role in suppressing weeds, as the clippings act as a barrier to sunlight, inhibiting weed germination.

Plus, it helps maintain an even soil temperature, which is crucial for healthy root development. And if you’re worried about thatch, don’t be; grasscycling doesn’t contribute to thatch buildup when done properly. This eco-friendly practice not only saves time and money but also supports a more sustainable approach to lawn care. By embracing grasscycling, you’re not just taking care of your lawn; you’re taking a small but impactful step towards a healthier environment.

Composting Garden Clippings

Transform your garden clippings into black gold for your soil by starting a compost pile. Composting is a fantastic way to recycle nutrients back inwhat-to-do-with-garden-clippingsto your garden, and it’s simpler than you might think. Start by combining your fresh grass clippings with other organic materials, such as fallen leaves and shredded cardboard.

This mixture not only reduces landfill waste but also enriches the soil as it decomposes, creating a fertile haven for your plants. Exercise caution with clippings from lawns treated with herbicides or pesticides, as these can harm the beneficial microorganisms in your compost and the environment.

To prevent any unpleasant odors and ensure a healthy composting process, it’s essential to balance the green, nitrogen-rich materials like grass clippings with brown, carbon-rich materials. By turning and aerating your compost pile regularly, you encourage aerobic bacteria to break down the organic matter, speeding up the composting process and producing a rich, earthy material perfect for enhancing your garden’s vitality.

Using Clippings as Mulch

Mulching with grass clippings is a gardener’s secret weapon for maintaining a vibrant and healthy garden. Spreading a layer of these green gems around your plants can do wonders. It’s a natural way to beat the weeds at their own game, as the clippings block sunlight that weed seeds need to sprout. Beyond weed control, clippings help to keep soil erosion in check, even during heavy rains, by providing a protective cover.

They also regulate soil temperature, keeping roots cozy during chilly nights and cool during scorching days. Plus, mulching with clippings helps to retain moisture in the soil, meaning you can cut back on the watering and still enjoy lush, hydrated plants. However, a word of caution: if your lawn has been treated with herbicides, it’s best to avoid using those clippings as mulch. The chemicals can harm your plants and disrupt the delicate ecosystem in your garden.

By using untreated grass clippings as mulch, you’re not just giving your plants a boost; you’re embracing an eco-friendly practice that benefits your garden and the planet.

Lasagna Gardening with Clippings

Creating a garden bed as easily as layering lasagna in a baking dish is the essence of lasagna gardening, a no-dig method that layers organic materials, transforming them into nutrient-rich soil. It’s a perfect way to incorporate garden clippings into your gardening practice. Start by layering cardboard or newspaper as a base to suppress weeds.

Then, add a layer of green materials like fresh grass clippings, which are rich in nitrogen, followed by brown materials such as leaves or straw, high in carbon. Alternate these layers until your ‘lasagna’ is at least two feet tall. Over time, with the help of worms and microorganisms, these layers will break down, creating a fertile bed that conserves water, reduces the need for fertilization, and keeps weeds at bay. This method is not only efficient but also environmentally friendly, as it recycles your garden waste into something incredibly useful.

Lasagna gardening with clippings is an innovative approach that rewards gardeners with lush vegetation and a sustainable way to manage garden waste.

Avoiding Common Mistakes with Garden Clippings

Garden clippings can be a boon for your yard, but mishandling them can lead to a few pitfalls. One common misstep is using long grass clippings on your lawn, which can mat together and smother the grass beneath, preventing sunlight, water, and nutrients from penetrating the soil. It’s crucial to ensure that the clippings are short enough to decompose quickly without forming a dense layer. Another mistake is using clippings from diseased lawns.

These can spread pathogens and pests throughout your garden, undoing all your hard work. Always inspect your lawn’s health before repurposing the clippings. Consider the proximity of your garden to water sources. Clippings that run off into streams or ponds can introduce excess nutrients, leading to algal blooms and water contamination. Be mindful of where you place your clippings and how they might affect the surrounding ecosystem.

By avoiding these common errors, you can safely and effectively use garden clippings to enrich your garden without unintended consequences.

Alternative Uses for Garden Clippings

Your garden clippings are only good for the compost pile. These versatile green leftovers can be the secret ingredient for a lush garden and happy farm animals. One ingenious way to give your plants a boost is by steeping clippings in water to create a nitrogen-rich fertilizer tea. It’s simple: fill a bucket with water, add the clippings, and let it sit for a few days.

After straining, you’ll have a potent liquid fertilizer that can be applied to your plants every couple of weeks, promoting vigorous growth and vibrant blooms. If you have access to livestock, consider offering your fresh grass clippings as a supplementary food source. Chickens, rabbits, and even goats can benefit from the fresh greens, provided the clippings haven’t been treated with harmful chemicals. It’s a win-win: your garden waste becomes a nutritious treat for farm animals, and you contribute to a more sustainable, closed-loop system.

Before you toss those clippings, consider these alternative uses that can benefit both your garden and the local fauna.


As we finish our journey through the green world of garden clippings, it’s clear that these small pieces can play an important role in the sustainable garden. We’ve explored the eco-friendly practices of grasscycling, composting, and mulching, each showing how the backyard can be environmentally friendly.

We’ve layered our clippings in lasagna beds, turning waste into something wonderful, and we’ve learned to avoid common garden mistakes that can ruin a green dream. We’ve expanded our ideas to see clippings not just as waste, but as material for fertilizer teas and food for farm animals. By embracing these practices, we do more than care for our plants; we develop a philosophy of sustainability that improves our soil and our spirits.

So the next time you look at a pile of fresh clippings, see them not as the end of their journey, but as the beginning of something beautiful for your garden and the world beyond.