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Our lawn grows crazy-fast and if I'm too slow between mowings, I leave a thick trail of grass clippings on the lawn. So two questions:

  1. Can I use these to mulch my vegetable garden?
  2. Are there any particular things to consider?

I've seen cautions about pesticides, etc - that isn't a problem here. I've also heard of people drying clippings first; is that necessary? Are there any nuances to be aware of?

  • No herbicides/pesticides used, you're good to go... Also excellent compost heap fodder, mix with last year's shredded leaves. – Fiasco Labs May 29 '15 at 16:47
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Yes you can. Grass clippings are a good mulch for the vegetable garden. They help retain moisture, insulate the soil so it doesn't get too warm and provide nutrients as they break down.

I've never had a problem putting them directly around plants right after cutting but many times I'll pile it up near the plants for a day or two if I'm really hot and tired.

I knew someone that used to only compost their lawn clippings. They'd pile it up in a corner of their yard. Never turned it or anything. Broke down fine but others have problems with it.

I try to return as much of the clippings to the lawn as possible though because it cuts down on water and fertilizer needs. Sometimes I'll spread it out, one week I'll bag for the garden, one or two weeks mulch mow.

There can be issues with weed seeds spreading to your garden but if you have a couple of inches of grass over the beds most won't survive.

I'd strongly recommend not letting your grass go that long between cutting though. It can greatly impact the appearance of your lawn. Try to time your cutting so that you don't cut off more than 1/3rd of the blade at each mowing. I know of a few people that don't mow their lawn regularly. Some just once a month, others much less than that. One of them used to look great as the previous owner took really good care of it. Now they all look like crap and spread weed seeds all over the neighborhood. Be a good neighbor and please mow your lawn regularly or at the very least before seed heads develop.

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  • Thanks, good tips. Yeah, the lawn would definitely be an embarrassment (I'd say I'm usually cutting a minimum of 3/4 of the grass), but we're out in the boonies and frankly there's nobody around to see it : ) – doub1ejack May 29 '15 at 21:00
  • @OrganiclawnDIY Are you mowing annual blue grass? Poa annua? Otherwise what grass is getting seed heads? And doub1ejack never cut more than 1/3 of your grass! Leave your lawn after cutting at 3 to 31/2 inches, no shorter. Check out other question/answers on our site about lawns? – stormy Aug 27 '18 at 20:44
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Mostly, don't put them on too thick (if you are going to, "drying first" might matter.)

Grass clippings are my favorite mulch material - a couple inches thick they block weeds as well as anything, look tidy, and break down to help feed the soil. Laid on green they form themselves into a mat as they dry a bit.

If you put them on too thick, when fresh, they can get a bit excited about heating up (they start composting themselves) and then collapse into a slimy anaerobic mess. 2-3 inches thick I've never had problems with that. 6" thick it's a problem. By the time you cut the lawn again you can put another 2-3" on, if you have adequate clippings for that - I rarely have enough to keep up with having everything as mulched as I'd like it, so it's usually a bit longer before I get back to re-mulching, and I usually go a bit thinner on the second pass to make it stretch further.

If you have a lawn to garden ratio that leaves you with excess clippings after laying 3" on the whole garden, put the rest in the compost heap.

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    If there's any clover content, definitely be on the safe side and allow it to dry. The extra nitrogen content in 6" of damp clover/grass mix can allow it to get quite warm, 18" will be scalding, I stupidly stuck my arm in once. Excellent mulch for water retention, especially now that I'm dealing with drouth and drip irrigation. – Fiasco Labs May 29 '15 at 16:45
  • 6" is a problem (too thick) regardless. I'm a "clover in my lawn is a good thing" person and have never had any trouble at 3" or less of fresh clipping mulch. – Ecnerwal May 29 '15 at 17:41
  • Exactly, which is why 3" or less is a good thing. You don't want the excess rot and mold that come with laying it on too thick. – Fiasco Labs May 29 '15 at 18:25

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