Manage your grass the green way
The smell of a freshly mowed lawn is one of summer’s special delights for many homeowners, but figuring out what to do with the grass clippings is often not such a pleasure – especially if you’re trying to live a more “green” life.

“The simple answer, of course, is to make free compost that you can then use to improve the soil quality and fertility and benefit the plants in the rest of the garden,” says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group. “But unfortunately it is not quite that easy, because grass by itself is tricky stuff to turn into compost.”

Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, he notes that grass clippings, being mostly water and very rich in nitrogen, can be problematic in compost heaps and bins because they tend to compact, become anaerobic and start to smell. “Consequently, you need to mix them with lots of carbon-rich material (also called “browns”), such as dried leaves, coarse straw or hay, mielie cobs, sawdust, paper and cardboard.”

If you have a lot of grass clippings to compost, he advises, you should spread them out to dry in the sun for at least a day before adding them to your compost heap and then layer them with brown material in a ratio of about two parts brown to one part green. In this way you should be able to “harvest” nutrient-rich compost in just a few weeks.

“What is more, you will be doing your bit to recycle useful material instead of sending it to the landfill, where plant material tends to break down in anaerobic conditions and give off methane – a gas that is 21 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.”

Indeed, it has been estimated that a standard black refuse bag (750mm x 950mm) containing 14kg of grass clippings will give off as much greenhouse gas as burning 9,5L of petrol by driving about 100km.

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