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Grass clipping only compost

Posted by mzmalik 6a (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 25, 14 at 18:03

Just a few questions:
Is it possible to start a compost pile with grass clippings only? I am aware that a compost pile should have leaves and soil as well for the proper Carbon to Nitrogen ration, but there aren't many leaves in our backyard, especially during spring and summer. So please let me know if it is possible to compost grass clippings only.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Grass clipping only compost

yes it possible but I think you get a better product if you add carbon material. If you don't have leaves you can use shredded paper or sawdust.


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RE: Grass clipping only compost

You have to be VERY careful with the moisture balance, because they mat down, go anaerobic and stink and get slimy.

Adding wood chips or other coarse fibrous material in layers between layers of clippings helps aeration. Mixing them with the clippings also works.


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RE: Grass clipping only compost

Well, if you have so much grass that it can be your main ingredient, then I suggest the following.

After cutting, gather up the grass, and let some grass dry. Then, with new grass that you keep cutting, there is your green. Have some browns and greens that way, with just your grass.

Now, in reality, you don't need to do it to that extent.

You generate greens when you cook. Veggie and fruit parts that you trim off and don't eat -- all are greens. So are yard or garden trimmings (separate from the grass), including weeds that did not have seeds yet.

Paper towels, frozen food cartons, newspaper, junk mail -- all are browns. So are lint from your dryer, cereal boxes, and other box cartons.

So now you have plenty more than you thought, and you can use the grass as brown or green, depending on what you need.

I think coffee grounds are also green but some website I just looked at said they are browns. Either way, you can use that, too, in your compost pile, if you have some.


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RE: Grass clipping only compost

I'm new to composting, so I really don't know what I'm talking about. BUT I do have an experimental grass cuttings pile, so I'll share.

Our current rental property has a huge hole in the ground that was once a pond. I have some plants around it and that helps disguise it, but the landlords didn't want to spend money on dirt and neither did we.

So all of our grass clippings go in the pond. After a couple of mows I realized things were a bit clumpy and wet, so we started mixing in all the little branches we pick up in the yard before mowing. That seemed to aerate the pile a bit. Yes, everything in the pile is brown but over time it has started to actually break down (and the pond is mostly filled). I don't stir it up or anything, but when I transplant something I'll throw the misplaced dirt in as well (we're talking small amounts, maybe a handful at a time).

What surprises me the most is that no grass/weeds are growing up from it. We have a weedy/seedy lawn and yet nothing survives the pile.

Not sure if this helps or not :)


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RE: Grass clipping only compost

You've gotta have those browns in order to "compost", BUT you can use your grass clippings as mulch on your vege beds!
If you sprinkle them a couple of inches thick on your vege beds, you can prevent weeds and warm the bed a bit! I wouldn't do more than 3" or so, and be sure they are pulled away from the stems of plants! I did this a couple of year ago and had a GREAT garden!
I don't know if it was "because" of this method, or it just happened to be a great year! Nancy


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RE: Grass clipping only compost

Thank you so much for all your detailed replies.
How should I go about with adding paper and cereal boxes as browns? How small should they be shredded to compost nicely? Approximate size.


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RE: Grass clipping only compost

The ideal Carbon to Nitrogen ratio for a compost pile is about 30:1. 30 parts of a high Carbon material to 1 part of a high Nitrogen material. Grass clippings, depending on age, have a C:N ratio of between 12 and 25 to 1, so some high Carbon material is really needed to compost them.
If no high Carbon material is readily available why not mulch mow those clippings right back where they came from?


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RE: Grass clipping only compost

And FWIW, mzmalik, you do not need to add soil to a compost heap as you mentioned in your first post. The cardboard, etc can just be torn up a bit and mixed in. No mandatory size.


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RE: Grass clipping only compost

I agree with drying some of them so that the pile won't be as slimy. Do you have a paper shredder or access to an office's paper shreds? That could be a brown, dry addition to the pile.

If I put cereal boxes in the compost, I usually rip them into pieces about the size of a closed fist.


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RE: Grass clipping only compost

I used to fill cereal boxes & paper flour sacks with kitchen waste & throw them into the heap whole. No ripping.


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RE: Grass clipping only compost

I think it will depend on size of compost pile that could handle bigger pieces in the time that you want (otherwise, leave it in as-is for those piles that go for 1-2 years like some have). For mine, I will go about 1"x1" or 2"x2" on paper towels. For other paper material including thin cardboard boxes, such as cereal boxes, I shred them with a cross-cut shredder.

For that, I use a shredder, and for paper towels, I may do it while watching TV or videos online.

This post was edited by gardenper on Mon, Apr 28, 14 at 11:35


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RE: Grass clipping only compost

I believe your answers are in what Lazygardens,Ladybrowncoat and mommandme2 said. Grass clipings are close to balanced C to N but as Lazyg said,they mat horriably so airation is what you need. That can be accomplished by turning often or adding branches and sticks and/or doing as mommandme2 did,throw the smaller boxes in whole then turn less often. The branches and boxes will not rot as soon as the grass but that's ok. Anything that isn't broke down go's into the next pile. You are likly useing a catcher on the mower so you can shred paper and cardboard by running over it with the mower. Now that all that has been said,at least some of the clippings should be left on the lawn. You need a mulching mower with a SHARP BLADE to grind clippings fine enough to leave in place.


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