Composting & Grasscycling

Home Composting & Grasscycling

Grasscycling is a simple and natural approach to lawn care; clippings are left on the lawn after mowing to decompose quickly, releasing valuable nutrients back into the soil. Proper watering, moving, and fertilizing of a lawn results in moderate turf growth. Did you know many residents spend a significant amount of time tending to their lawn? If you mow your lawn with the mowing bag attached, you need to stop and empty it frequently. After that, you have to put the grass into bags and into the container and to the curb on your pick up day.

Follow these simple steps to:

  • Use a mulching mover that will cut into finer pieces
  • Cut no more than ⅓ of the length of the blade of grass at a time and to maintain the grass at a height of two to three inches, depending on the type of grass
  • During summer months, mowing should be done once a week
  • Cutting grass when it's dry allows for better distribution of the clippings and lowers the chance of clogging your lawn mower and making it stall

The Basics of Lawn Care

Watering your lawn: The most common grass species need between ½ to 1 inch of water every 5 to 7 days, when the weather is warmer and much less when weather is cool. How to tell when your lawn needs watering? Its simple, in the early morning, walk across your lawn. If the grass blades stay bent down for more than 1 to 2 minutes, then your grass needs watering. Check your lawn each day if you want to avoid under or over watering.

Fertilizing your lawn: Fertilizers are used to improve and maintain the quality and appearance of your lawn and garden. Before fertilizing your lawn, a soil test should be done to determine the natural fertility of your soil under your lawn. The results will tell you the types and quantities of nutrients soil can provide to your lawn.

For more information visit the Los Angeles Public Works Smart Gardening page or call 888-253-2652.

Backyard Composting

Compost is an excellent soil conditioner. It improves the soil structure by binding soil particles together. This improves aeration and helps soil to retain water and nutrients. Compost also improves drainage in clay soils and water retention in sandy soils. Backyard Composting is attractive to because it is a simple method of managing organic wastes at home. Typically home composting can be done by various methods: placing materials in open piles, burying materials in pits or trenches, enclosing materials in drums or bins. In order to heat up properly the piles should be at least on cubic yard in size. The following are some composting tips to help you along:

  • Grass clippings add nitrogen which is necessary to a compost pile. Be sure to mix with brown materials that add carbon; this will help the pile quickly decompress and enrich compost
  • Newspaper or plain white paper is excellent for composting - just remember to shred it first to speed up the process
  • If adding ashes, do so sparingly. they are alkaline and affect the pH scale of the pile
  • The microbes responsible for breaking down your compost pile need a balanced diet of nitrogen and carbon
    • Nitrogen such as green materials, food scraps, manure and grass clippings
    • Carbon comes from brown material such as dead leaves, hay, and wood chips
  • Algae and seaweed make excellent additions; be sure to rinse off any salts before using
  • Keep compost in a black plastic bin and in direct sunlight through the winter months
  • Compost decomposes between 120 and 160 degrees F
  • The perfect size for a pile is 3 feet by 3 feet
  • Do not compost fats, pet droppings or animal products. This will attract pests and can spread disease
  • Plants that have been treated with pesticides should be avoided
  • Don't throw away your kitchen waste in the winter, try an indoor composter
  • Compost piles should be moist, not wet

Apply finished compost to your garden 2 to 4 weeks before you plant, giving the compost time to integrate and stabilize with the current soil. For faster results, use a compost turner every two weeks to aerate your pile. Find out more facts and composting tips at the Los Angeles Public Works Smart Gardening page or the CalRecycle website.