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Learning to Reuse and Compost Lawn Clippings Through Trial & Error

Posted November 11, 2020

Written by: Jennifer Vander Linden

When we moved from an apartment into our home in the Midwest, one of the things I was most excited about was breaking out the lawnmower and cutting the grass. That might sound odd to some people, but I enjoy being outside and experiencing the instant gratification of mowing the lawn while getting in a few thousand steps on my fitness tracker.

grass in wheelbarrowSince it was an exceptionally wet spring, the grass grew extremely fast, and we struggled to keep up with mowing. When we were able to cut the grass, we found ourselves with an abundance of grass clippings. I’m always looking for organic material to add to our GEOBIN® Composter, so I collected the clippings to incorporate into our compost. 

My original plan was to add some grass clippings to my active GEOBIN Composter and the rest to our second GEOBIN that held dry leaves from the previous fall. However, I quickly discovered that freshly cut grass on its own turns into a smelly pile of green slime in no time at all. So I decided to switch to plan B: reduce the amount of cut grass I saved. I alternated collecting the clippings with mulching, which helped return some of the nutrients directly to the lawn.

Composting Is All About Balance

While I don’t strictly adhere to the recommended ratio of browns (carbon) to greens (nitrogen) in our GEOBIN Composter (25-30:1), I did want to stay relatively close to that recipe to accelerate decomposition and prevent the compost from developing an unpleasant odor .

After some trial and error, I realized I needed more browns to keep our pile balanced, so I decided to dry out our grass clippings. My husband and I have a small garden area, so we spread out the freshly cut grass clippings to dry. Once the grass faded to a light tan, we lightly raked the area to expose the greener material underneath. Once the entire batch had dried out, we added it to our active GEOBIN Composter and our second GEOBIN with the dried leaves. This system worked very well, and we continued the process throughout the season.

To learn more about maintaining a balanced compost bin, check out our blog, “Breaking It Down: A Beginner’s Guide to Composting.”