RIRRC to homeowners: Leave grass clippings on lawn

The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp. is asking homeowners not to recycle grass clippings.

It says the grass breaks down quickly when left on the lawn, but takes years to degrade when buried in the Central Landfill.

"Our recommendation is to actually let the clippings lie where they fall when you're mowing. So taking the bag off of the mower and letting the clippings fall on the ground," said Kate Venturini, of the University of Rhode Island Outreach Center.

The science behind this is simple. Grass is comprised mostly of water and nitrogen, which are the two main ingredients in successful fertilizing.

By letting grass clippings stay on the lawn, there is no need for fertilizer and the potential chemicals that come with it.

"We never fertilize. We let the clippings lie, and as you can see it's quite beautiful," Venturini said.

The landscapers at SeaScape lawn service offered some tips to maximize the potential of grass clippings.

"You want to remove no more than one-third of the grass at any one mowing. So, in the spring and early summer when your lawn is growing quite fast, you might need to be mowing more than once a week," said Seth Wilson of SeaScape.

It might seem like more work, but it's not. By leaving the clippings behind, there's no need to rake and bag them. That saves time and effort as well as minimizing runoff into local water supplies, and saving space at the Central Landfill.

"They sit there with the rest of the garbage, the rest of the trash, and they slowly break down over time, but they really don't reach that highest use," said Sarah Kite-Reeves of the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp., which operates the state landfill.

If you need to collect your lawn clippings, the RIRRC has the facilities to compost them and distribute them for re-use. Check with your local town to see when yard waste pickup days are scheduled.

You can do yourself a favor and save time, money, effort, and the environment by letting your lawn organically feed itself.

"This is very important and people can set good examples on their properties. Tell their neighbors," Venturini said.