Using Grass Clippings as Vegetable Garden Mulch

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Cabbage grown with a grass clipping mulch

I have used grass clippings as a vegetable garden mulch for as long as I can remember, but four years ago I changed from a casual grass clipping mulcher into a clipping devotee. Hay was no longer a safe choice due to risk of herbicide contamination, ditto for manure. The only answer was to do a better job producing and harvesting my own mulch materials, especially grass clippings. In addition to doing all the things other biodegradable mulches do (retain soil moisture, block light to weeds, improve soil), grass clipping mulch contains so much nitrogen and potassium that it serves as a supplemental fertilizer. It may also deter some pests. In a 3-year Swedish study, grass clipping mulch improved yields of cauliflower while reducing damage cause by root maggots.

Squash seedling mulched with grass

Grass clipping mulch requires special handling, because it tends to form slimy mats when applied too thickly or left in wet piles. But if you are managing certain turf areas for mulch production, you are unlikely to commit these errors. Grass clippings become a much too valuable a resource to waste.

Cultivating Grass Clippings for Mulch

The most fundamental step I have taken is to actively cultivate three areas of my landscape for the specific purpose of gathering mulch. Rather than have them in solid turfgrass, I am growing a mixture of vigorous grasses and perennial clovers, especially Dutch white clover. The clover helps provide soil-borne nitrogen for itself and its neighbors, and changes the texture of the clippings so they are less likely to compact.

In terms of maintenance, I repair damaged places with plugs of sod or clover, and broadcast a balanced organic fertilizer over the turf in spring, just before a soaking rain.

I also invested in a walk-behind mower with grass clipping management in mind. It has a bagger just the right size for me to lift off and dump, and I can switch from the bagger to a mulching attachment, which throws the cut clippings back down to the ground, in about five minutes. At least once a month, I treat my cultivated grass mulch areas to a self-mulching treatment, which fertilizes the grass and helps with weed prevention.

Vegetable garden grass clipping mulch

Like any other crop, grass clippings must be harvested when they are ready, and in the right kind of weather. The grass must be dry, and the mowing should remove about one-third of the length of the grass. I keep my mower blade set high, at 4 inches (10 cm), to keep from damaging the plants' crowns and to help the turf serve as habitat for ground-dwelling spiders, beetles, and other creatures. In spring and early summer, when rain falls regularly, I can harvest clippings from each plot every 7 to 10 days.

Using Grass Clipping Mulch in the Vegetable Garden

The main rule for using grass clippings as mulch is to apply them in thin layers. This happens naturally if you spread mulch as the final step after weeding. When using freshly-cut clippings or batches that have been allowed to dry in the sun, I sprinkle on just enough to barely cover the surface. I may add a little more a few days later, but will wait a couple of weeks, or until the next weeding, to apply another layer. I have yet to find a garden crop that is not completely happy when mulched with three thin layers of grass clippings, spread two weeks apart.

Garden turtle

This practice of applying three thin layers of grass clippings also appears to favor frogs and box turtles over slugs in my garden. Feeding by night, garden toads consume slugs by the dozen, and then turtles take over the early morning shift. Toads especially seem to have a special affinity for grass clipping mulch, or just plain grass clippings. Several times, when I left small piles of grass clippings sitting in the garden overnight, the next morning I found toads enjoying a sauna inside the steamy piles.

Once in a while I will have more clippings than I need, so I spread them out on a piece of roofing metal and let them dry in the sun. Stuffed into a garbage can with a secure lid, I always have a stand-by supply of excellent grass clipping mulch.

By Barbara Pleasant

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Show Comments


"This is really good to read - I experimented with bought-in bark mulch which someone then told me can be toxic and can change the ph of your soil to I got a builder's bag full of grass clippings from a local gardener and have just emptied it after it sat 7 months. No slime to be seen thankfully! Will such old, dried grass still have good nutrients in it? I also have a very small patch of grass on my allotment, literally only the size of a small shed, and I'd never even thought about harvesting from it but after reading your article I will try cutting that too - every little helps I guess! Is Rye grass (from green manure planting) to be used in the same way, if it's not being dug in? Also, an old timer gardener told me that using bio mulch uses up your soil nutrients as it breaks down so you are robbing your veggies (or changing the soil like my bark mulch) - I find it really hard to back my 'fancy new ideas' up against 'years of experience' so I'd appreciate any input on that."
Adele on Friday 6 April 2012
"Good questions! The notion that mulches borrow nutrients from the soil has been found to be false, so don't worry about that, especially with a nitrogen-rich mulch like grass clippings. Your old grass clippings are fine, because any molds or mildews on them will also contribute to soil nutrition. Avoid breathing the dust, however, because I would imagine that a bag of grass clippings stored for a year would be full with fungal spores, like old hay...Rather than digging in rye grass whole, I would cut it for mulch or compost a couple of times, then scalp it low and turn under the roots and crowns. "
Barbara Pleasant on Friday 6 April 2012
"Gardeners need to be very careful not to use grass clippings that contain pesticides or herbicides. 2,4-D, and other common broad leaf pesticides can cause major crop damage if added to the garden or compost bin. Hopefully everyone reading this uses organic gardening methods anyway, but just something to think about before you ask your neighbor for his/her lawn clippings. Happy gardening!"
Dave on Friday 6 April 2012
"I was surprised to learn that I should spread the grass clippings so thinly. One big reason I mulch (apart from weed suppression), is to retain water in the soil. Would spreading it so thinly take away this benefit? We have a lot of grass clippings each year and at the moment we put them in the compost, but I like the idea of trying something new..."
Deanna Vazquez on Friday 6 April 2012
"My worry about using grass clippings is whether seeds will get into the garden. We have bermuda grass, which is nearly impossible to get rid of when it starts growing. Is there anything that needs to be done with clippings to make sure it doesn't start growing grass in the garden?"
Melissa on Friday 6 April 2012
"I have the same concern as Melissa. I struggle each year to keep up with cleaning out the grass growing in my garden and flower beds. The grass steals water and nutirents from my plants, so I am also wondering about using the clippings for mulch... won't that just create more grass in my garden?"
Leah on Friday 6 April 2012
"I began use grass clippings from the start in my garden and have had no issues with grass growing in the garden--and I use freshly cut grass from my yard. It provides great mulch, puts weeding to a minimal (almost non-existent) and means my (now) elementary age son knows where he can safely walk in the garden. "
Scuttlebutt on Friday 6 April 2012
"I used to garden in the bermuda zone, so I understand your worry. Most turf-quality grasses of any species, including bermuda, are not invasive or weedy. It's their first cousins who are. Old-timey coastal bermuda is the weedy kind. Regular mowing keeps it from making seed but won't stop the runners. Annual bluegrass and crabgrass are definitely weedy, but they won't reseed if you mow it before the seeds have time to mature."
Barbara Pleasant on Friday 6 April 2012
"I started using grass clipping between my rows in the garden last year. The results were amazing. No weeds, a nice walking area (especially when wet), and amazing nutrient feedback and water retention in the garden. All I do is take my clippings and sprinkle a thin layer on the rows once a week. In the sprink I till it in and start over. "
richard loeppky on Saturday 7 April 2012
"I use a company to fertilize and degrub my lawn. Is there a way to use the clippings as mulch for my garden? Say let the clippings sit for a while or should I Just forget about the clippings for mulch? While I am at it, I compost house garbage but have been reluctant to put the grass clippings in the bin for the same reason above. Can I use the clippings as compost Or again, just forget it due to the fertelizer and weeed and grub killer? Thanks, Mark"
Mark Hausammann on Saturday 7 April 2012
"Mark, please talk with your lawn service company about the products they are using. The turf industry has come a long way in terms of using more organic products. You can have them change to an organic fertilizer and organic grub control (beneficial nematodes). Then your clippings will be endlessly useful. The company works for you, right? "
Barbara Pleasant on Sunday 8 April 2012
"Realistic and valuable information about the Grass Clipping. We handle the grass clipping very carefully, It gives more yields in vegetables. The strength by this procedure is acquired in the greater extents."
bark mulch on Saturday 14 April 2012
"I also use grass clippings - I recieve the clippings from my neighbour - a longtimne organic gardener, who also mows his neighbours lawn - so three gardens worth!! I do give quite a bit to the poultyr as well as put it on the garden. If a weed is suspected, drying out the grass will likely kill it, or else 'process' through a rabbit or guinea pig!!! leaving for several days in a black plastic bag in the sun will also kill most weeds - starts a composting process. Another thing I have done is encouraged a local lawn mowing provider to drop off his bags of clippings, rather than take them to the tip (which charges them). He also provides clippings to a local market gardener. Way To Go, Grass!!!"
Sally Nelson on Sunday 15 April 2012
"How about grass as a living mulch? I am looking at options for paths between raised beds - I've read both sides of the argument: don't have grass as it will compete for water versus do use grass because it will help store water in the soil and prevent evaporation/drying out...?"
webwahm on Monday 16 April 2012
"One guideline...if the paths are wider than the width of the mower's cutting path (usually 21 inches minimum), then grass/clover is a good choice for corridors that take a lot of traffic. Narrower paths are easier to manage in mulch."
Barbara Pleasant on Monday 16 April 2012
"I do like the idea of Grass Paths - as you suggest Barbara, letting the mower thru - can be used both ways - path and produce. It also harbours 'good' soil bugs and worms. Lets them get away from any overheated area of the garden, etc. and choose their own environment."
Sally Nelson on Monday 16 April 2012
"I am needing to know whether it is possible to dig directly into the earth my grass cutting not as mulching cannot find an straight forward answer."
Boeck on Sunday 2 September 2012
"Yes, you can dig grass clippings into bioactive soil, and it will have similar effects to turning under a cover crop. Depending on how much nitrogen the clippings are holding, amending with grass clippings can reduce fertilizer needs. I would wait at least two weeks after digging in grass clippings to plant in order to allow time for them to decompose."
Barbara Pleasant on Monday 3 September 2012
"Dear Barbara, I live a few metres from the beach on a hillside in New Zealand, I am told I can fill a container with grass clippings, cover this with water and leave to form a liquid fertiliser,is this so and how long does one leave the mix before it can be used. also I did the same with horse manure sea weed and water,I left it for a yearto mature, but it killed 2 young shrubs when I added it to the soil when planting. please advise as I am not a great gardener, everything just grows fastand well here, the soil is black and easy to pull weeds from,I can break of a cutting, pop it in and almost all grow well, di I even need to fertilise?? Regards Jane. "
Dorothea Jane Gelston on Saturday 3 November 2012
"Jane, you are on the right track with your making of homemade fertilizers, but letting them steep too long. Three days is plenty! Please see the article at Mother Earth News on this topic, wherein the "recipes" were checked for proper dilution rates by a very reputable lab:"
Barbara Pleasant on Sunday 4 November 2012
"Jane, remember that any fertilizer, even home made, should be diluted before use, or it can burn and kill any plant. Sally"
Sally nelson on Monday 5 November 2012
"I totally agree with this article - grass mulch works very well. I would also add that it can be used, with discretion, at much greater thicknesses, for example under bushes and trees. I've spread it at thicknesses up to 4 or 5 inches (it compresses to about 2-3 in a couple of days) and the trees just love it, especially during establishment. I've never encountered any problems with insects or anything else doing this, although you wouldn't do it where you plan to walk! I've also used it over potatoes, where it does seem to prevent scab. "
Rob Wigham on Sunday 16 December 2012
"Jane, I think most gardeners would kill for your soil! However, it's not just fertilization that youd be doing. The worms take the grass down and their excreta adds to the humus of the soil - it's that that the plants love! This is what gives your soil body and gives it that 'rich but well drained' thing that the books talk about. Even if you don't need it, think about the gardener who'll be there in 100 years. Store up that goodness....!"
Rob Wigham on Sunday 16 December 2012
"Could I put grass clippings straight into a trench and add my seed potatoes? I'm hoping that the grass clippings would nourish the soil into producing a larger crop!"
Gillian Dyer on Wednesday 10 April 2013
"No, no, Gillian, don't do it. The grass clippings will turn into a slimy mess when covered with soil, which won't do your potatoes any good at all. It's nature's way to keep the grass clippings on top."
Barbara Pleasant on Wednesday 10 April 2013
"Thanks so much. An aquaintence said that this was the way to get super potatoes so I thought I'd ask. I certainly don't remember my father ever doing so. Just continue 'lining' with compost I suppose. I've also got chicken droppings (and their straw) which I hope is okay. "
Gillian Dyer on Wednesday 10 April 2013
"Can grass clippings cause weeds in a garden? If mowing and grass clippings blow into garden will they cause weeds or grass to grow in the garden?"
Melodie on Friday 19 April 2013
"It takes most lawn grasses a long time to produce mature seeds, so grass clippings normally have few seeds. In my experience they have fewer weed seeds compared to any other mulches except sawdust and wood chips. With each mowing, immature seeds are removed."
Barbara Pleasant on Friday 19 April 2013
"Once my seeds are planted do I cover that area with the grass clippings as well or only around where the seeds are planted? I wasn't sure if I sure cover everything or not. Thanks!"
Jason on Wednesday 8 May 2013
"In spring and early summer you want to keep any mulch well away from germinating seeds and young seedlings, because mulch can provide cover for slugs and cutworms. The first crops I mulch with grass clippings are potatoes and broccoli, after the plants are 12 inches tall. As the weather warms, I use grass clippings to mulch lots of other veggies. "
Barbara Pleasant on Wednesday 8 May 2013
"I am building a raised garden bed. Since soil is expensive I have lined the bottom with cardboard,coconut husks(live in Hawaii ) and thought to put grass clippings before adding soil for the top foot. Is this a good idea for the grass? Thanks"
Dorthy Owen on Tuesday 21 May 2013
"I am building a raised garden bed. Since soil is expensive I have lined the bottom with cardboard,coconut husks(live in Hawaii ) and thought to put grass clippings before adding soil for the top foot. Is this a good idea for the grass? Thanks"
Dorthy Owen on Tuesday 21 May 2013
"Dorothy, you could use a thin blanket of grass clippings over the cardboard and coconut husks, but no more than 2 inches. Because cardboard and coconut husks are high carbon materials, I would put 2 inches of bagged compost over the grass clippings before adding the soil. Good luck!"
Barbara Pleasant on Tuesday 21 May 2013
"why only 2in of clippings? is it because of heating up? I am thinking putting shredded corrugated cardboard to mix with compost I made. would decaying cardboard rob nutrients? should I put green ie grass clippings to avoid this? another thing, is mixing grass clippings in potting mix helpful in improving nutrients available to the plant?"
ledum09 on Thursday 23 May 2013
"If your compost is already made, use it! The balancing of cardboard and grass clippings in a new heap makes much more sense, and should work fine. More than 2 inches of grass clippings buried with other stuff will become a layer of green slime at least for a while, and you don't want too much of that going on in the root zone. Finally, potting mix is low in microorganisms to prevent aggravation to roots. Rotting grass clippings are great in compost or as mulch, but not in potting mix, containers being a bad place to do composting."
Barbara Pleasant on Thursday 23 May 2013
"I put down weed n feed on my lawn on May 13th. How long do I have to wait to be able to safely use the grass clippings in my vegetable garden? "
Bob Perhacs on Friday 31 May 2013
"Bob, you need to check the label on the product you used, because the chemicals vary so much. With corn gluten-based weed-and-feeds there is no waiting period, whereas some chemicals can toxify your lawngrass clippings permanently."
Barbara Pleasant on Sunday 2 June 2013
"Barb, I used Scotts Weed n Feed and have thrown away the bag. Would I be better off using the grass clippings from my neighbor (she doesn't put any chemicals on her lawn)or could I use pine bark mulch instead? I have already put down a layer of newspapers to inhibit the weeds but I need a layer of something to cover them."
Bob on Sunday 2 June 2013
"Bob, you applied 2,4-D to your lawn, so I would not use the grass clippings for anything for a year. The National Resources Defense Council has asked for it to be banned because of carcinogenic concerns. Next spring, consider using Concern weed preventer, which contains corn gluten. You can certainly use your neighbor's grass clippings, or pine mulch, or whatever you can find that is locally abundant."
Barbara Pleasant on Monday 3 June 2013
"I live on a rural two acre parcel and I intentionally allow my grass to grow taller than normal. After I mow I allow the grass clippings to dry on the lawn for two days of good sun. Then I harvest the "hay" with a lawn sweeper and apply it around my flowers and vegetables. Works great and allows me to get into the garden easily when the ground is wet"
Jim Heller on Wednesday 19 June 2013
"Well, I have to use dried grass clippings on my garden. I mow, let dry, and then lay over my mounds of dirt that I hoed up onto my garden. I really hope I am not hurting my plants in any way, buty garden is producing 100% of my veggies. Last couple years they never made it to harvest. I have to keep my home remedies because I am a low income person and they seem to work and save me money. "
Florendia on Tuesday 25 June 2013
"Has anyone found that mulching traps too much water in the soil? We have been mulching with grass clippings for many years but about three years ago suddenly our garden started retaining water and now it is almost too wet to plant and now the plants are withering and dying from too much water (I have not watered yet this year). Has anyone else had this and think it might be from the mulch?"
Carol on Sunday 30 June 2013
"Carol, I can understand your problem in this rainy year. The benefit of mulch in rainy weather is that is cushions the impact of hard rain, preventing compaction. But it also can keep soil too wet and inhibit drainage. In seasons when mulching causes more problems than it solves, it is best to limit mulching to pathways, and compost excess grass clippings."
Barbara Pleasant on Thursday 4 July 2013
"I planted a fall garden in one of my raised beds. My beans were up around a week when I placed a light layer of grass clippings over the garden bed to hold in moisture due to late summer dryness. A few days later, a handfull of the leaves (most of the beans only had two big leaves at that time)were dying or wilted. I wonder if this has anything to do with my mulch or if it might be the soil. The garden is raised with good topsoil on top (bagged) but the bottome half is compost from my local tree disposal pile (they do a great job of leaving piles of mulch and it's free to take whatever level of composted material you want). Thanks in advance"
Jim on Friday 9 August 2013
"I sounds like you may have cutworms that come out and feed at night. The mulch provides them with daytime cover. Frequently the damage simply stops as the caterpillars morph into moths, but if the damage continues I would rake back the mulch for a week or so, making the cutworms fair game for birds, wasps and other natural predators."
Barbara Pleasant on Saturday 10 August 2013
"I saw how much the grass grows after I mowed the yard each time. Instead of spending $2,000 on fertilizer every spring for the hay field, I mowed it after the hay season. I turned out my cows to graze on part of it in the spring without fertilizing it. The grass was so thick and tall you could not see the cows legs."
DW Starr on Tuesday 29 October 2013
"thank you so much ,i've learned a lot on this column ,i would like to know after mixed dry leaves or grass clipping into soil ,would it change ph of the soil to acid or alkaline ? should we add something to make it better ph ? "
kandi on Friday 13 December 2013
"Grass clippings will quickly rot when turned under, and like other forms of "active" organic matter, they have a moderating effect on soil pH. Unrotted leaves are acidic, but the composting process changes them to near neutral. You could acidify soil by adding a lot of leaves, in which case you would need to balance things out with lime or wood ashes. "
Barbara Pleasant on Friday 13 December 2013
"Hi can I use any kind of grass for grass clippings? I will use it for my grapes and apples. I live in the Philippines and I am the only one who had these kinds of plant in my area."
Delgado on Saturday 25 January 2014
"Why apply the grass clippings in 3 thin layers over 2 weeks period? Why not just apply 1 thick layer in one go?"
bernard on Sunday 26 January 2014
"As long as the grass has not been treated with herbicides, any type of grass clippings are safe to use as mulch. ..Thick layers tend to go slimy in the middle and form a mat that is not easily penetrated by rain. This does not happen when the clippings are applied in thin layers."
Barbara Pleasant on Sunday 26 January 2014
"I mulch with grass clippings every year for many years now. I partially block the discharge on my mower and it leaves a nice narrow windrow on my lawn. Go back later in the day and either hand or power rake it up, put it on the garden 4-6" deep. It dries in a few days, turns a nice brown, no smell and no weeds. Water runs right thru although this year I am going to use drip lines. So I will cover the emitters with grass. Usually wait till plants are over 6" tall before mulching. Rototill in the fall, soil is wonderful. I plant 5' garden strips with 5' grass walkway between. 100' long strips , width of my 5' rototiller on tractor. Nice garden system, no weeding, just plant and pick. Careful not to use pesticides anywhere."
Gary on Sunday 16 March 2014
"I have a huge pile of rotten grass clippings at the end of our garden,it's pure slime and it stinks.I'm wondering can a little of it be mixed through soil as I'm hoping to start a new vegetable garden. Thanks in advance for any replies "
Lou on Wednesday 4 March 2015
"Would have been better had you spread and tilled it in last fall, it would be worm food and pretty much gone by now. Yes, you can till it in, spread it in a one or two inch layer and incorporate down thru the plant zone. Decomposing mulch will use nitrogen, so maybe spread the grass over your garden, throw some N on top and then till it in. Next time, don't build large grass piles of wet green grass, let it dry a bit and then use for mulch. You can compost it, but it needs alot of carbon sources to mix with the green nitrogen from the grass. You lost your nitrogen in the form of ammonia (stink) when the pile heated up."
Gary on Friday 6 March 2015
"Thanks for your reply ????"
Lou on Friday 6 March 2015
"Those Question marks were supposed to be smiley faces!! "
Lou on Friday 6 March 2015
"Trying a garden for the second time (last was 10 years ago) I am trying to buy as little as possible and doing a ton of research- last time mixed results with little time and knowledge! I killed all my indoor seedlings, cut worms ate my sunflowers, peas wilted because i planted too late, corn grew a weird gray fungus, but i got a ton of zucchini! This is great info for using what i already have. My question is can i plant clover in my walkways or is it too invasive, and what kind of clover?"
Michelle on Sunday 29 March 2015
"The common white clover, called white dutch clover, is actually quite good for pathways. You often can transplant bits from the lawn, or from other peoples' lawns. "
Barbara Pleasant on Sunday 29 March 2015
"Thank you! I have a lot of white clover already growing in my yard-another thing I don't have to buy! Now if the snow will go away, I can get started."
Michelle on Monday 30 March 2015
"Thanks for the information. Do you use grass clippings throughout your entire garden or are there some vegetables or fruits that it's not recommended? Especially curious about melons and winter squash vines. Thanks much!"
Steve on Thursday 23 April 2015
"Steve, to increase the weed resistance of the mulch, I would use a layer of newspapers under grass clippings to cover a large space, as would be needed with melons. Some winter squash like direct contact with the ground, and the vines are so vigorous that they shade out weeds, so mulching them may not be worthwhile."
Barbara Pleasant on Thursday 23 April 2015
"we only have the invasive 'creeping' grass - that grows on runners- gets everywhere!! is this safe to put on my veggie bed - as I don't want it ti set up in there!! I guess I'll have to give it the plastic bag treatment for a few days ?? anyone had this problem with runners ??"
Tracy on Saturday 2 May 2015
"Tracy, even if you have old-time Bermuda (very invasive) you can use the clippings. The only time this would no be a good idea would be if the grass was holding mature seeds, which is unlikely if you mow every 10 days or so."
Barbara Pleasant on Tuesday 5 May 2015
"I want to use grass clippings on the vegetable garden, but concerned that if there are some weeds in the grass they will sprout in garden. Sorry if this is a dumb question. ??"
Heidi on Monday 25 May 2015
"I want to use grass clippings to heat up the soil in my cool-ish climate. Do I still do a very thin layer of clippings?"
Lea on Monday 25 May 2015
"Heidi, when grass is cut every three weeks, ripe seeds don't have a chance to develop. Many more weeds come into the garden on the wind than would be likely in clippings from regularly mowed grass...Lea, you will be better off using plastic or row cover (fleece) tunnels to increase warmth. Wait until summer gets going and the soil warms to mulch, because all mulches except plastics cool the soil. Until then, you can use grass clippings to heat up compost."
Barbara Pleasant on Tuesday 26 May 2015
"Your info on using grass clippings as mulch was so helpful. Thank you! "
Cas on Saturday 6 June 2015
"grass clippings around tomato plants makes a lush garden"
c shaffer on Friday 12 June 2015
"Following up on the question from Lou (March 4, 2015), and the reply from Gary: I too have mismanaged a smallish pile of grass clippings intended for my snazzy new compost bin, which is not done yet (well, it's been raining); and I too want to get some use out of the clippings by digging a layer into a newly-tilled bed. Gary's main warning was about nitrogen. Since what I want to put into the bed is beans, which pull up their own N, can I go cheerfully ahead? Say yes."
Khlovia on Sunday 14 June 2015
"The answer depends on how many grass clippings you want to till in. If it is a lot (more than a 3-inch layer), you would need to allow a little time for the clippings to rot before planting, say 10 days. With less there would be no reason to wait."
Barbara Pleasant on Monday 15 June 2015
"Very interesting information on the topic and thanks for it! Today first time in my life I used grass clippings in my garden."
Jaswinder on Saturday 25 July 2015
"I may have made a big mistake. I have very sandy soil in fact this may have been a beach at one time. I am in the process of building the soil for a vegetable garden. Over the past 20 years I have created a very large grass clipping pile. The bottom 2 feet is black almost manure looking, the top 10 feet is dried grass. I have moved some 80 wheelbarrow loads into the 20x50 foot areas and tilled it in thoroughly, giving me a good foot of mixed soil. I have also mixed in about 15 wheelbarrow loads of top soil I had trucked in 10 tears ago. Will this work? Should I add any thing else to the mix? It is now November and I won't be planting until May, 6-7 months away. "
Earl Hunt on Wednesday 4 November 2015
"Thank you so much for your article and the patience you show answering the same question over and over You have spurred me on to using my leaf mulch and grass cuttings in my greenhouse 250sq.yds I look for ward to seeing the results"
Brian on Friday 6 November 2015
"Earl, your rotted-to-black grass clippings are perfect for adding organic matter to sandy soil. I suggest letting the soil rest until April, and adding a balanced organic fertilizer before you plant. Drip or soaker hoses will make watering easier, and you can cover them with grass clipping mulch. Then amend your soil again next fall with more rotted grass clippings. Over time, you will create fantastic garden soil."
Barbara Pleasant on Monday 9 November 2015
"Outstanding feedback from everyone! Thank you all for the tips. I'm starting the grass clipping mulch tomorrow. The tip about starting in thin layers and replying in a week or notch. That was my only concern, spreading it out. "
Cleve on Sunday 12 June 2016
"I have a 40 foot by 60 foot garden... I have about 3 acres of land I use all of my grass clippings on my garden.... I cut my grass in sections so there are blankets of it through out the yard... wait a few hours and just suck it up with the riding tractor bagger..... I used to cut it and bag it all at once but it took too long and made the ground too hot... I never have any grass left over to pile up and rot "
warren on Wednesday 3 August 2016
"I have a problem with grass growing in my vegetable beds. the amount of wedding I have to do drives me insane because once the vegetables start growing I can't always to it before it becomes unmanageable. My husband started a compost bin and is adding the grass clippings to a the box. I am terrified. Any suggestions or input to ease my FEARS?"
Alicia on Monday 3 July 2017
"Alicia, do some snooping to see what kind of grass you have growing in your beds. Spreading perennial types are the worst, especially Bermuda and quackgrass. These spread mostly by stolons, and the clippings are safe to compost. Good luck! "
Barbara Pleasant on Tuesday 4 July 2017
"Hi Barbara, Thanks you for the very useful information. I came across your article when I was looking for some advice how to use dry grass clippings for mulching. I am an organic gardener from New Zealand. There is a bowling ground which they haven't used for last two years across the road. I have never seen them fertilizing or spraying for two years. I have seen lush green there and it was mowed last weekend. The grass clippings were dry and beautiful. We brought them home last night. I am thinking to use them as mulch for my rose beds and vegetable beds. I have read somewhere you need to mix dry clippings with leaf litter to prevent making a sluggish layer. Is that correct? I have applied quite thick around the rose plants. Will it kill them? If the grass was sprayed two years ago, will that affect to accumulate chemicals in the clippings now? "
Salila Bryant on Wednesday 31 January 2018
"Salila, It sounds like those are safe grass clippings to me. As long as you have dry weather to help settle them into place, your thick mulch should be fine. If it packs into a dense layer that rain cannot penetrate, you can fluff it up with a hoe."
Barbara Pleasant on Wednesday 31 January 2018
"My neighbor treats his lawn with weed killer. He then applies the clippings to his vegetable garden. Are the vegetables safe to eat?"
Bart in Rochester on Thursday 7 June 2018
"Bart, your neighbor's vegetables are likely as tainted as commercially-grown produce, but you never know. Some of the newer herbicides have residual effects, with beans and tomatoes showing high sensitivity. Why take the risk?"
Barbara Pleasant on Thursday 7 June 2018
"I'm absolutely thrilled to have found this site; I've learned a lot in the short time I've been glued to it! Am now off to retrieve some of the grass mowings from when our allotment paths were cut 2 days ago - and spread them - thinly - all over my own allotment, before passing on the advice to the rest of the plot holders! Exactly what we need for this current rare heatwave in the UK. Many thanks :)"
Sue Harris on Saturday 30 June 2018
"I cut my lawn and pasture grass with a ride-on mower , and let the clippings dry for a day or two before I bag them up and stack in a pile . The dried grass (like hay) will keep its nutrients much better than a wet grass pile . When I have a space in my garden I spread the dry grass and till it in right away , or I use it for mulch along the rows and till it in after harvest . I also till in dry leaves in the fall , and spread wood ashes when I have them . This adds a lot of organic matter and nutrients to the soil , but a little nitrogen fertilizer ( say 10-10-10 or 6-12-12) is required for the spring vegetable crop."
Neil Smith on Tuesday 28 August 2018
"Would mixing shredded leaves with grass clippings, be an even better mulch than just grass clippings? Thanks"
Mike Berna on Sunday 9 December 2018
"Yes, Mike! Leaves with some grass clippings mixed in is one of my favorite winter mulches for garlic. The grass helps keep the mulch in place."
Barbara Pleasant on Sunday 9 December 2018
"I have to say that I think you're making it even harder and less effective by trying to keep the layers thin and requiring drying time. I just dump the newly cut grass directly onto the soil around my plants. I only have to do it once per season with the initial layer being about 10-12 inches deep. That's thick enough to suppress all weeds and it maintains soil moisture to reduce the need for watering. I try to get this done as soon as after planting as possible. For seeds, I obviously keep the mulch off the seeds until the plants are up, healthy and strong, then bring the mulch in as close as possible. I've been doing this for 20 years and never had a problem from it. Prior to winter, the final cut of my lawn, which is loaded with both grass and fallen leaves, is used to create a 12-20 inch deep pile to suppress weeds over the winter and provide nutrients to the soil. "
David B on Tuesday 5 November 2019
"I like what Dave has to say, I put my grass on around 6" thick, it mats down. I do a lot of double cropping here in Michigan, pull early brassica's and plant more for fall harvest- usually put grass down again at that point. I collect with a large 50 gallon barrel on the back of my mower- cut a swinging door on the side and just open that, dump it out and use a barley fork to spread it around. I've also used leaves from the previous fall that hadn't fully composted, they work great around potatoe hills. If I can trellis vine plants, I get good weed control and easier picking. Cukes mostly. My squash and pumpkins I put on thinner layers of grass or leaves, they like to root in along the runners, if they can't- yeilds suffer. I use a small amount of 10-10-10 at planting on everything, if there is evidence that mulch is still composting, I'll throw in a bit of urea 46-0-0. Getting seed catalogs in the mail this week, 4" of snow tonight, but spring is coming...."
Gary on Tuesday 31 December 2019
"LOVE my grass clippings! Been using them for only dilemma is getting enough of them off of my property! I cruise my neighbor hood looking for people with lawns that are not golf course perfect (so I know they do not treat their lawns) then when they put the clippings out in leaf bags I not only get the clippings but leave bags too which I use as sheet mulch around freshly seeded areas. I generally apply them fairly thickly - 3 -4" and several applications throughout the season. I also use untreated hay and horse manure as well. My garden is on the smaller side - about 1200 square feet but I still have to hunt for clippings! Thanks and Garden On!"
Mike on Wednesday 17 June 2020
"i would like to use lawn clippings (bluegrass/fescue) as ground cover in my vegetable and flower gardens. But I am aware that grass clippings with herbicides in them should be avoided. Is it safe to use clippings from a lawn that had "weed and feed" applied to just once and over 6 weeks ago? "
Lynn Johnson on Monday 13 July 2020
"Lynn, I would not use those clippings in the vegetable garden this season, because some of the herbicides can persist quite a while, including seed germination inhibitors. The risks would be minimal in flower beds filled with established plants, where the clippings should work quite well. "
Barbara Pleasant on Monday 13 July 2020
"My years of experience with the neighbor's clippings- they do use a weedn'feed in the spring, If I wait for 3 months (July), the clippings I use from them do not harm anything I have put them on including established plants, new seedlings and new seedings (late corn, beans, cukes, carrots, beets, etc.) I don't see any residual carryover after 2-3 months from application. In fact, lawn services are reapplying herbicides in July to catch mid-summer weeds just for that reason, the efficacy has worn off and needs reapply. "
Gary on Sunday 19 July 2020
"Gary, The second application, made in summer, contains broadleaf weed killers which are different from the pre-emergent herbicides used in spring and a bit riskier. Something to keep in mind. "
Barbara Pleasant on Monday 20 July 2020
"Very true, thank you for clarification. I have to spray grass or I'll be overtaken by crabgrass. In early spring, I spray a product called Dimension- it's a pre-emergent that stops germination of most seeds- including dandelion and crabgrass along with a few other weeds I deal with. My lawn is expansive, if I want green grass, I have to spray. This early spray is effective for about 2-3 months, by then the grass is up and shading further weed germination but not all. New seeds are blowing in daily. So mid-summer, the recommend is to spray both an additional pre-emergent to get the later crabgrass generation and to also add a broadleaf spray like 2,4-D to kill emerged and growing weeds in the lawn. Both of those sprays are not what I want around my food plants so I'm watching the clippings to see what has been sprayed and how long it may be detrimental to my gardens. I don't do the summer sprays- I don't mind a bit of clover although a few years ago I had an infestation of creeping Charley that was overtaking everything, I sprayed that and it's gone. I'm a mixed bag, I try not to use chemicals when and wherever, but the size of my yard kind of dictates it if I don't want a weed patch. Common sense...... don't use anymore than I have to and don't use it unless I need to."
Gary on Monday 20 July 2020
"Gary, thanks for sharing your thinking. Little tip: Creeping charlie is strangely sensitive to boron. It thinks a bit of household borax in water is a herbicide. "
Barbara Pleasant on Monday 20 July 2020
"Hi! I accidentally sprayed my dad's lawn with weeded forgetting that he wanted to put the clippings in his garden. With winter and snow coming and rototilling it under would it be okay to still put it in the garden."
Holly on Tuesday 22 September 2020
"Can you use fertllized grass clippings in your garden."
Tony on Saturday 5 June 2021
"Using grass clippings is probably safe in the dry climate. Another way, such mulch is a potential source of fusarium and other troubles. "
ZenY on Sunday 8 January 2023
"Thanks for the detailed information! I've begun using grass clippings in my small veggie garden (12 tomato plants, 8 bell peppers) this year, putting the grass-catcher bag in place on my mulching mower, dumping it alongside the garden, then spreading it out about 1/2" to 1" thick later. I noticed some of it dries into thin "cakes" of mulched grass and a whitish, fungus-looking material appears on the bottom (beneficial slime mold?). I figure this is just the natural decomposition of the grass and is good for the garden, moving nutrients into the soil. I snip off the bottom branches of my caged tomato plants that touch the ground as is generally recommended so they won't carry diseases from the ground onto the plants and everything seems to be thriving."
Mickey Cashen on Sunday 16 July 2023
"Sounds sensible to me!"
VINNIE on Wednesday 19 June 2024

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