How to Make Compost Out of Grass Clippings


Composting requires a balance of nitrogen and carbon to produce the rich soil amendment. Fresh grass clippings are rich in nitrogen, so they make an organic alternative to nitrogen fertilizers and compost starters. Green plant material adds nitrogen to the pile, and grass clippings are especially abundant during the spring and summer months. Composting grass clippings turns them into something useful for the garden and just may save you some money in garbage disposal fees.

Step 1

Choose a level composting spot that doesn't have standing water after rain and is at least 5-by-5 feet in size. Apply a layer of straw or branches over the area to provide a base for the compost pile.

Step 2

Mix one part fresh grass clippings with one part dead leaves, dried clippings or another carbon source. Generally, green plant material is nitrogen-rich and brown material is carbon-rich.

Step 3

Place an 8-inch layer of the grass clipping mixture on top of the compost pile. Sprinkle it with water so that it is slightly damp.

Step 4

Place 1 inch of soil or finished compost on top the grass clippings. Follow with a second layer of the grass-clipping mixture and add more soil. Repeat until the pile is 3 feet high.

Step 5

Keep the compost moist but not soaking wet. Check moisture in the pile every two to three weeks by squeezing the composting materials in your hand. If a drop or two of water squeezes out, it has the proper moisture amount.

Step 6

Turn the compost pile once weekly, otherwise the grass clippings clump and slow the composting process. Turn with a garden fork, bringing the outside of the pile in toward the middle of the pile.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not compost dairy or meat products, as these tend to rot and attract pests. Do not compost grass for garden use if the clippings had been treated with a herbicide.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden fork


  • Ohio State University Extension: How to Prepare and Use Compost
Keywords: compost grass clippings, building a compost pile, soil amendment

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.