How to Compost With Grass Clippings

Overview

Grass clippings make for good green material element in building compost. Grass clippings are high in nitrogen and break down quickly. When combined with leaves, vegetable cuttings, wood chips, water and fertilizer, grass clippings make a rich and moist compost. Grass clippings can be used to make up to 50 percent of a healthy compost pile's inputs. More than 50 percent grass clippings can create an imbalanced breakdown process that can be malodorous. Hence, composting with grass clippings requires more frequent turning of the compost than with other green materials.

Supplementing An Exisiting Compost Pile

Step 1

Add fresh green grass clippings to an established compost pile by laying down a layer of clippings up to half of the volume of material in the existing pile.

Step 2

Wait 24 hours and turn the grass clippings into the compost pile with a garden fork. Mix the clippings into the center of the pile to speed up the decomposition process.

Step 3

Turn the pile again in three to five days to oxygenate the clippings and prevent odor from developing. Follow this turning process each time you add green grass clippings.

Starting a New Compost Pile

Step 1

Select a pile site that sits directly atop the garden soil with no lawn, rocks or plants to obstruct the microbial interaction with the raw soil below.

Step 2

Alternate layers of grass with layers of carbon-rich materials such as dried leaves or newspaper clippings. Sprinkle the newly layered pile with a commercial compost starter, a few pounds of well aged manure or a dose or two of balanced fertilizer. Sprinkle the compost pile with water until it is just lightly moist but not soaking wet.

Step 3

Add a final layer of finished compost or garden soil to kick start the microbial action. Once established, turn the pile regularly every few weeks--more frequently when adding fresh green grass clippings.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost pile
  • Large garden fork
  • Compost starter, aged manure or organic fertilizer
  • Water
  • Finished compost or garden soil

References

  • University of California, Davis: Recycle Your Grass Clippings
  • University of Minnesota: Composting
  • University of Minnesota: Materials for Composting
Keywords: build organic compost, green material, grass clippings

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.