Although “grass-cycling” your grass clippings by leaving them on your lawn to filter down and decompose is a great idea, sometimes you have too many clippings to leave.
How do you store grass clippings so that you can use them later?
To store grass clippings, you can dry them and use them as a mulch or store the dried clippings under a tarp, in a shed, plastic bags, or barrels. You can also add your grass clippings to your compost heap or make a grass tea for your plants.
It’s okay to leave your lawn clippings on the lawn if you cut it often and short. But sometimes, you have extra lawn clippings.
As a gardener, you know that lawn clippings make such good mulch and compost that you don’t want to throw them out as garden waste. What are the options for keeping lawn clippings?
How to Prepare Grass Clippings for Storage Outside
Many gardeners would think that a simple way to store lawn clippings is to rake them together in a heap and leave them.
Unfortunately, this is not a good idea as damp grass clippings start to decompose quickly, become slimy and smelly, and form thick, yucky clumps where the microbes responsible for composting are suffocated. Heaps of damp lawn clippings can also get extremely hot inside and may combust.
Instead, it would be best if you chose a spot where you can dump out your grass clippings and allow them to dry for a while. It is necessary to dry out the grass clippings whether you plan to store them briefly and use them as mulch for weed suppression, as a brown layer in compost, or in bags or barrels for later use as mulch or animal feed.
To dry out your grass clippings, spread out the pile of grass into a layer around one to two inches thick. Leave the grass to dry for a day or so and then turn.
Within a couple of sunny days, the topmost layer of grass clippings will have turned golden brown. The lower layer will have dried to soft, green hay – it will also smell like hay.
You can use the dried grass clippings as mulch immediately, feed it to pets, or you will need to store it for later use.
Properly dried and stored grass clippings will last for around a year, although the organic nutrients in the grass will decrease in time.
Can You Store Any Grass Clippings?
You can’t store or recycle grass clippings if:
- The clippings are wet – you will need to dry them out first.
- The clippings were sprayed with pesticide or herbicide. Discard these as they will not be nutritious to your garden and cannot be fed to animals.
- They contain seeds or weeds. They will simply spread weeds and grass throughout the garden.
Method 1: Under a Tarp
If the weather is pretty dry, you can leave your grass clippings outside and keep them dry by covering them with a tarp. However, ensure that the grass clippings will not get wet as they will develop a very unpleasant mold.
Method 2: In a Shed
Those lucky enough to have a shed can simply store the dry grass clippings in a heap in a dry shed. However, make sure that the grass is completely dry before storing it. You could also keep the dried grass in burlap bags or hampers.
Method 3: In Lawn Bags
If you want to store your grass clippings for longer than a few weeks or don’t have a shed, then plan ahead, and use a catch bag mower attachment to collect the grass, which you can then store in plastic bags.
You can store grass clippings in specially made plastic or paper bags for several months. Here’s how to do it:
- Buy large, thick plastic bags especially made for lawn clippings and make sure they have no holes in them. Some outlets also stock paper sacks for this purpose.
- Pack the grass into the bags, nearly to the top.
- Shake the grass in the bag and drop it a few times so that the grass compresses and air releases.
- Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible. To do this, put your arms and knees around the bag’s opening and push the air out.
- Seal the bag by tying it off or winding the opening around.
- Store the bags upside down.
- The grass will remain moist and airy so long as the bags are airtight.
- Do not store these bags in your garage, as there is a possibility that they may spontaneously combust if the clippings are stored wet.
Method 4: In Barrels
Lawn clippings can be used to make silage to feed animals like goats and rabbits. Silage refers to the stored, compacted green fodder that animals can eat in winter. You can keep fresh grass clippings (not drying it out first) if you plan to make silage.
To make silage in barrels, do the following:
- Buy large, airtight barrels, buckets, or cans and make sure they have no holes in them. The container needs to be airtight, or else the silage will spoil.
- Pack the grass into the barrels as full as you can.
- Shake the grass in the barrels so that the grass compresses and air releases.
- Seal the lid tightly and allow it to rest for at least 30 days.
Method 5: In a Compost Heap
If you can’t store your lawn clippings as they are, you can keep them and recycle the clippings as part of your compost heap or pile. Grass clippings are a valuable addition to a compost heap because they are high in nitrogen.
Grass clippings alone will not create compost, however. Green clippings need to be combined with brown plant materials, such as dried leaves, small branches, paper, straw, and soil containing microorganisms to decompose.
If you add green grass clippings to your compost heap, be sure to turn the grass into the pile to add air to the compost and prevent the grass from compacting and forming a thick, uncompostable layer.
Allowing your grass clippings to dry out first means that you can add them to the compost heap as brown compost material.
Method 6: Make Lawn Clipping Tea
Another way of storing or reusing extra lawn clippings is as a nutritious “tea,” which you can feed to plants, especially vegetables. Grass tea is highly beneficial and helps suppress plant disease, break down toxins, and make nutrients available to plants.
To make lawn clipping tea, do the following:
- Place your freshly cut grass clippings into a bucket of water.
- Allow the clippings to steep for a few days. Nutrients like potassium, nitrogen, chlorophyll, phosphorus, and amino acids will leech from the grass into the water.
- After three days, strain the liquid.
- Feed your plants the tea by pouring it onto their roots or spraying it onto their leaves.
Why Store Grass Clippings
Storing grass clippings to reuse in your garden is a good idea because:
- Grass clippings contain high levels of nitrogen, which is essential for plant growth. If you use grass clippings as mulch, compost, or tea, you will be able to use less nitrogen fertilizer.
- Adding grass clippings to sandy, clay, or infertile soil will help to improve its texture and fertility.
- Grass clippings can be made into silage and fed to domestic animals, like goats and rabbits.
Storing grass clippings for later use as mulch, compost, or animal feed is sustainable and eco-friendly. You can either dry the clippings and keep them under a tarp or in a shed or store fresh clippings in plastic bags or barrels to make silage.
If you can’t store the clippings, you can recycle them as compost or grass clipping tea.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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