Yard waste such as grass clippings compose over 13 percent of the waste Americans send to landfills each year, according to 2008 data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Composting clippings from common lawn grasses such as Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) is a simple process that produces a humus-rich soil amendment that you can use for your potted plants and vegetable garden. Since Bermuda grass is a stubborn plant that can take root and spread aggressively in your garden soil, it’s important that you ensure your compost heap achieve high composting temperatures to kill any seeds in your grass clippings.
Collect Bermuda grass clippings with other organic waste materials for your compost pile. Fresh Bermuda grass clippings, fruit peels, vegetable waste, cow and horse manure and coffee grounds are all excellent sources of nitrogen for your compost pile. Dried Bermuda grass clippings, dead leaves, straw and old hay make wonderful carbon sources for your compost pile. According to the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension, about one-quarter to one-half of the materials in a well-balanced compost heap should be nutrient-rich materials.
Prepare your compost location. Use a shovel or spade to expose the topsoil marking the location of your compost pile; this allows the millions of bacteria in the soil to begin decomposing your compost ingredients more quickly since they have direct access. The University of Illinois Cooperative Extension states that your compost pile should be at least 3-feet-by-3-feet-by-3-feet to maintain an adequately high temperature to facilitate proper composting.
Spread a 6- to 8-inch layer of high-carbon materials, including dried Bermuda grass clippings, over the exposed topsoil and cover it with a 3- to 4-inch layer of high-nitrogen materials. Spray the layers lightly with a gentle mist from your garden hose and sprinkle a 1-inch layer of topsoil over the two layers. Repeat this procedure until your compost pile’s height matches its width and length.
Monitor the moisture level in your compost pile. As a rule of thumb, you want your compost pile to be about as wet as a wrung-out sponge, so you’ll need to check it every few days to ensure that it stays moist. If the pile is too damp, add more carbon-rich material such as dried Bermuda grass clippings and mix it into the pile to absorb the extra moisture. If it’s too dry, just spray water onto the pile with your garden hose.
Maintain your compost pile. Approximately two to three weeks after you construct your compost pile, mix the layers of Bermuda grass clippings and other organic materials together with a manure fork to aerate the heap. Repeat this procedure approximately once a week to maintain high compost temperatures and produce finished compost within about six months.
Things You Will Need
- Bermuda grass clippings
- Nitrogen-rich organic materials
- Carbon-rich organic materials
- Garden hose
- Manure fork
- Avoid composting Bermuda grass root systems since they may survive high composting temperatures and sprout in your garden soil.