Compost your grass clippings and produce a rich soil amendment from what would otherwise be trash. Grass clippings are high in nitrogen, one of the key components of a successful compost pile. Grass does not turn into compost on its own, but once it is combined with dead leaves and other yard debris it is ready to begin the composting process. Dry leaves and other brown plant materials provide carbon, which heats up when it is mixed with nitrogen-producing grass. The process is sped along by natural microorganisms that feed on and break down the grass and leaves.
Lay down a 3-inch layer of ground cover, such as twigs or straw, on the site of your new compost pile over a 3- to 5-foot-square area. The ground cover allows excess moisture to drain from the pile, while also allowing oxygen to flow to the bottom of the pile.
Place two parts of dead leaves and other dead plant materials onto the ground cover, then add one part grass clippings. Mix the leaves and grass clippings together so that the grass can't clump together. Add enough yard waste so that the pile is 2 to 4 feet tall.
Sprinkle one or two shovel loads of garden soil on top the leaves and grass. The soil introduces to the pile microorganisms that are necessary for the composting process.
Water the compost pile until it is evenly moist. The pile has the proper amount of water when it feels damp to the touch, like a wrung-out sponge.
Turn the pile once a month with a pitchfork, moving the materials on the outside to the inside of the pile so it all composts evenly. Shape the pile after each turning so that the center of the pile is slightly lower than the edges.
Water the pile until it is damp if it begins to dry out. A properly turned and moist pile reaches up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit as the components break down, according to Virginia Cooperative Extension.