Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority

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Grasscycling & Mulching

 

Grasscycling is the simple practice of leaving grass clippings on the lawn when mowing. Once cut, grass clippings dehydrate then decompose, quickly disappearing from view. Grasscycling:

  • Encourages a healthier lawn by returning nutrients to the soil beneath it.
  • Reduces work because you don't have to bag or rake and dispose of your clippings.
  • Saves you money because you don’t have to pay for disposal of your clippings.
  • Benefits the environment by naturally recycling the clippings.

Simply put, grasscycling is good for your lawn and can help you reduce waste and save time and money. Learn how easy it is for you to begin grasscycling. View our grasscycling videos!

How To Begin Grassycling

Proper mowing is required for successful grasscycling. Cut grass when the surface is dry, and keep mower blades sharp. Follow the "1/3 Rule": mow your lawn often enough so that no more than 1/3 of the length of the grass blade is cut in any one mowing. Frequent mowing will produce short clippings that will not cover up the grass surface. You may have to cut the lawn every 7 days when the lawn is growing fast but only every 7 to 14 days when the lawn is growing slowly.


You can grasscycle with most any mower (push, electric or gas). The mower collection bag should be removed to allow clippings to drop on the lawn. However, if your mower does not have a safety flap covering the opening where the bag fits into the chute, it is important that you purchase a retrofit kit from your local retailer.

Most lawnmower manufacturers have developed “mulching” mowers which cut grass blades into small pieces and force them into the soil. These types of mowers are effective in grasscycling and have become very popular. They are sold at many yard and garden equipment retailers, nurseries, and home supply stores.


Some Common Questions:


Does grasscycling cause thatch?

No. Research has shown that grass roots are the primary cause of thatch, not grass clippings. Thatch is composed primarily of roots, stems, rhizomes, and other plant materials. These plant materials contain large amounts of lignin (fibrous material) and decompose slowly. Grass clippings are approximately 80-85 percent water with only small amounts of lignin, and decompose rapidly.

Does grasscycling spread lawn disease?

No. Research has shown that grass roots are the primary cause of thatch, not grass clippings. Thatch is composed primarily of roots, stems, rhizomes, and other plant materials. These plant materials contain large amounts of lignin (fibrous material) and decompose slowly. Grass clippings are approximately 80-85 percent water with only small amounts of lignin, and decompose rapidly.

Will grasscycling make my lawn look bad?

No. If a lawn is properly mowed, watered, and fertilized, grasscycling can actually produce a healthier looking lawn. It is important to cut the lawn frequently to produce small clippings that will decompose quickly. If a lawn is not cut frequently and clippings are left on the lawn, it will produce a "hay-like" look which can be unsightly.

Ask Your Gardener to Grasscycle!

Many of us use gardeners for weekly maintenance of our yards and gardens.  Some services may already grasscycle, but most don’t because of perceptions that customers find it unsightly or unhealthy for the lawn.  If you use a gardening service, encourage them to grasscycle!  Grasscycling will save your gardener time because there are no clippings that require collection and disposal.  If your gardener does not know how to grasscycle, or thinks it cannot be done with a normal lawnmower, give them this brochure or have them call our information line at 906-1806.  We will be glad to help out!

 

Mulching

Mulching is the simple practice of taking material and laying it over the surface of the soil. It is a traditional gardening practice that has been used for many years. Today, mulching serves a variety of important purposes in the yard and garden, including:

  • Weed Control
  • Soil Conditioning and Moisture Retention
  • Mud Abatement
  • Decorative Ground Cover

Mulching is easy and anyone can do it! The most important consideration when mulching is mulch thickness. “Settled” mulch that is 4” or thicker is unhealthy because it restricts the access of oxygen to the soil. The ability for a mulch material to settle determines how thick the mulch layer should be. For example, a 6” to 8” layer of leaves or pine needles will settle to 2” or 4”, while a 3” to 4” layer of wood chips won’t settle at all. The timing of mulching is also important. Although mulch can be applied anytime during the year, they are best used during the autumn, winter and early spring months. It is during these periods that your mulch can most protect your soil and your plants against hard freezes, erosion and spring weed growth. One concern associated with mulching is its ability to hide pests. Snails, earwigs and mice can move through the mulch, unseen by you, and nibble on your plants. The solution to this is to never mulch all the way up to stems or trunks of flowers or shrubbery. Leave a 12” gap between the edge of the mulch and the stem or trunk to avoid problems. 

A Variety of Materials Can be Used as Mulch:

  • Shredded Leaves
  • Wood Chips
  • Pine/Redwood Needles
  • Grass Clippings
  • Paper
  • Wood Chips
  • Shredded Bark
  • Plastic Sheet
  • Rock