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Electric lawn mower in grass-cycling mode

Grasscycling is a method of handling grass clippings by leaving them to decompose on the lawn when mowing. The term combines "grass" and "recycling", and had come into use by at least 1990,[1] as part of the push to reduce the huge quantities of clippings going into landfills, up to half of some cities' summertime waste flow,[2] as 1,000 square feet (93 m2) of lawn can produce 200 to 500 pounds (90 to 225 kg) of clippings a year.[3]

Because grass consists largely of water (80% or more[4]), contains little lignin,[4] and has high nitrogen content, grass clippings easily break down during an aerobic process [5] (comparable to composting) and returns the decomposed clippings to the soil within one to two weeks,[3] acting primarily as a fertilizer supplement and, to a much smaller degree, a mulch. Grass cycling can provide 15 to 20% or more of a lawn's yearly nitrogen requirements.[6][7] Proponents also note that grasscycling reduces the use of plastic bags for collecting yard waste and reduces trips to the curb or landfill to haul waste.[8]


Optimal grasscycle techniques include:[3][6][9]

  • Cutting no more than 1/3 the length of the grass, this means when lawns are growing fast, mowing about twice a week.[10]
  • Cutting when the grass is dry to the touch
  • Cutting when the height is between 3 and 4 inches (7 to 10 cm), once per week.[10]
  • Ensuring that the mower blade is sharp

Although a mulching mower can make grass clippings smaller, one is not necessary for grasscycling.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Grasscycling definition/etymology". Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  2. ^ "Denver Recycle Grasscycle". Archived from the original on 2010-09-05. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  3. ^ a b c "Rivanna Solid Waste Authority Grasscycling Info". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  4. ^ a b "Grasscycling FAQ". Archived from the original on 2009-11-28. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  5. ^ Scoville, Heather. "Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Processes". About Education. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Grasscycle!". Archived from the original on 2012-02-16. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  7. ^ "California Integrated Waste Management Board - What is grasscycling?". Archived from the original on 2009-12-21. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  8. ^ "King County Experience: Grasscycling". Archived from the original on 1999-11-05. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  9. ^ "Bay Delta Grass Recycling Campaign". Archived from the original on 2012-02-12. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  10. ^ a b "How Often Should You Mow Your Lawn? - For Dummies". Retrieved 2016-02-29.

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