How To Decompose Clippings Quickly?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by BASIC, May 29, 2003.

  1. BASIC

    BASIC LawnSite Member
    Messages: 83

    Hi,do you have any ideas on how to get grass clipipngs to decompose quickly.We're dumping the clippings on our own property and would like to have them break down as quickly as posible.Can we compost them,if so how?Thankyou all for the help,BASIC.
  2. greenman

    greenman LawnSite Addict
    Messages: 1,405

    Heat (sunlight) is necessary for the proper decomposition, as well as moisture. If the clippings are in a closed container, it will really speed up the process. Compost needs to be turned from time to time.
  3. battags

    battags LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 607

    try adding some lime or nitrogen when you turn them over. I had the same situation and took a tiller to the pile with some lime. It didn't take long to see them vanish.
  4. fblandscape

    fblandscape Banned
    Messages: 776

    1) you need to add N every once in a while to stimulate microbial action.

    2) you need to turn the pile so that you don't get anaerobic conditions.
  5. mowerman90

    mowerman90 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,491

    Hi,do you have any ideas on how to get grass clipipngs to decompose quickly

    Sure, just feed'em to a cow. You'll have recycled material in no time.
  6. GraZZmaZter

    GraZZmaZter LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 740

    mowerman90 - LMAO!!! WOO HOO!! That was a hoot!!

    Or dump some gas on the pile and flip a match!

  7. walker-talker

    walker-talker LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 4,771

    alfalfa meal

  8. CMerLand

    CMerLand LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 393


    First off where in NJ are you located as it may be easier to locate a place to take the clippings rather then deal with them yourself.

    Secondly, as you can see with some of these replies on lawnsite, you will get either, wrong information or no information from some posters regarding most questions.

    Lastly, to help answer your suggestion, you may want to consider doing a web search on composting where you should be able to learn a great deal about this subject.

    Grass clippings are a huge problem which is why most townships and counties have stopped collecting them. My township (Hamilton, Mercer County) just stopped accepting clippings from contractors although homeowners may still drop them off themselves. The problem with grass clippings is that they contain TOOOO much nitrogen, heat up very rapidly and because they compact so tightly, quickly create anerobic conditions. Anerobic conditions means no air flow through the pile, and the trapped Nitrogren and water in the clippings quickly can convert to ammonia, which is why grass stinks like hell if you leave it in a bag or truck for a few days. Adding additional nitrogen is the worst thing you can do.

    To prevent this condition and the stink you need to add a source of carbon to the compost pile. Last years Leaves, shrub prunings, wood chips are all a great source of carbon, however you need to have a 10 to 1 Carbon to Nitrogen ratio for proper composting to take place.
    This means you need 10 trucks of leaves for every truck of grass which is real tough to do, and why the townships have stopped collecting the clippings. Well that and bitching neighbors when the compost piles get turned and let out a bit of a stink.

    You then also need a way to turn the pile regularly to keep adding additional air/moisture into the compost pile to prevent these anerobic conditions from occuring. Thorough turning will allow the pile to quickly heat up breaking down the carbon and nitrogen and turning out compost.

    Like I said, its probably easier to find someone already set up to deal with them.

    Best of luck.

  9. dfor

    dfor LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 828

    When I first moved into my house, I used to dump grass in the back to fill in a low area. Boy was that a mistake. You could smell it 100 yds. away. Neighbors must have smelled it. Now I just dump leaves. If I do dump any grass, it gets spread out real thin. I wouldn't recommend it if your neighbors are close.
  10. 1grnlwn

    1grnlwn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,261

    leave them on the lawn, that is the fastest way to decompose. CMerLand is correct you must have the browns mixed with the greens to compost , try wood chips or saw dust . I would keep them covered if they get too wet yuck!

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