Hands sift through compost ready for use


If you have a lawn, you can reduce the amount of waste that you're generating by recycling grass clippings in place. Just "mow and go."

Grass clippings are 90 percent water and decompose quickly, releasing nutrients for your lawn. In fact, if you let your grass clippings decompose on your lawn, the nitrogen added to the soil equals 1-2 fertilizer applications per year. That's like getting free fertilizer.

Grass-cycling also means less work for you: no shopping for bags, no bagging, no hauling bags to the street (or to the compost bin), less fertilizer purchased and applied, and less garbage going to the landfill.

Some Tips for Grass-cycling

  • Keep blades sharpened. A ragged cut from a dull blade makes the lawn more prone to disease. A mulching blade will chop up the cut grass into smaller pieces, therefore, grass cut with a mulching blade will decompose faster.
  • Mow when your lawn is dry. This reduces stress on the lawn and prevents clumping.
  • Only cut 1/3 of the grass blade when mowing.
  • Raise your mower deck to the correct height for your grass species. Scalping (mowing too low) stresses the lawn.
Grass TypeMowing Height
St. Augustine
   Standard varieties
   Dwarf varieties

3–4 inches
2.5–3 inches
Bahia 3–4 inches
Bermuda 0.5–1.2 inches
Zoysia 1–2 inches


Thatch is not caused by leaving grass clippings on the lawn. Thatch is a spongy, brown layer of organic matter that is made up mostly of stems, which decompose slowly. Grass-cycling discourages thatch build-up in most turf grasses. The only exception is for Zoysia grass, which requires removal of grass clippings from the lawn (see composting grass clippings). For all other grass species, you can reduce thatch build-up, by reducing the amount of water and fertilizer applied to the lawn.