Grasscycling is a simple and natural approach to lawn care. Clippings are left on the lawn after mowing to decompose quickly, releasing valuable nutrients back into the soil. Grasscycling has many benefits. It saves time, money and landfill space. When practiced in conjunction with proper lawn management, grasscycling can reduce water and fertilizer requirements, mowing time, and disposal costs.
Grass clippings make up a surprisingly large portion of Long Beach's waste stream — as much as several thousand tons each year. Yard waste, on average, makes up 25% of all residential trash, and during the growing season, half of that is grass clippings. So when we grasscycle, we help save valuable landfill space.
How to Grasscycle
Converting your current mower
Grasscycle with most any mower by removing the collection bag so that clippings may drop on the lawn. However, if your mower does not have a safety flap covering the opening where the bag fits into the chute, or a plug for the chute, contact your local retailer to purchase a retrofit kit. Be sure not to compromise your mower's safety systems.
Buying a new mower
When shopping for a new lawn mower, look for special mulching or recycling mowers which cut grass blades into small pieces and force them into the turf. Mulching or recycling mowers make grasscycling easy. Electric models have added environmental benefits and are much quieter than gas-powered mowers.
Cut grass when the surface is dry (no drops of moisture on the grass), and keep mower blades sharp.
Follow the "1/3" rule: mow the lawn often enough so that no more than 1/3 of the length of the grass blade is removed in any one mowing. Proper mowing will produce short clippings that will not cover up the grass surface.
Cut the lawn more frequently, or double cut, when the lawn is growing fast, such as in the spring, but much less when the turf is growing slowly.
Water early morning, as less water will be lost due to evaporation and water pressure is at its peak. Try to avoid watering in the evening because prolonged damp conditions may encourage disease development.
Avoid watering your lawn too frequently. Deep, infrequent watering encourages a deep, extensive root system which enables turf to resist disease and stress.
Apply smaller amounts of fertilizer to your lawn on a regular basis. This is more effective than applying larger amounts less often.
For moderate, even growth, use a combination of fast acting fertilizers (ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, or urea) and slow release nitrogen sources (such as sulfur-coated urea, urea formaldehyde, IBDU or organic fertilizers). Avoid using large quantities of fast acting fertilizers which tend to produce very fast growth for short periods.
Check with a local turf specialist to determine the fertilization rates for your grass type. Chances are you can get by with less than recommended and still have a beautiful lawn.
Benefits of Grasscycling
- Saves time (no more bagging)
- Saves money (less water and fertilizer are needed)
- Saves landfill space
- Encourages a healthier lawn (clippings contain valuable nutrients)
- Saves energy (mowing time, hauling to the landfill)
Additional benefits when using an electric, mulching mower:
- Eliminates air emissions from gas mowers
- Eliminates use of gasoline and oil, and potential spills associated with gas mowers
Learn to compost!
The City of Long Beach Environmental Services Bureau hosts a FREE workshop to teach residents to compost and vermicompost. Learn to recycle lawn and yard trimmings into a valuable soil amendment for your garden or landscaping, or have worms turn your food scraps into a rich fertilizer.
Grasscycle: Myth vs Fact
|Myth:||Grasscycling causes thatch build-up|
|Fact:||Grass roots are the primary cause of thatch, not grass. Grass clippings are mostly composed of water and decompose rapidly.|
|Myth:||Grasscycling spreads lawn disease|
|Fact:||Improper watering and fertilizing are the primary cause of disease. If an accommodating environment for disease exists, infestation will occur whether clippings are collected or not.|
|Myth:||Grasscycling makes lawns look bad|
|Fact:||Grasscycling can actually produce a healthier-looking lawn if done properly. Cut the lawn frequently to produce small clippings that fall between standing blades and decompose quickly. Long clippings may produce a "hay-like" look which can easily be avoided.|