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Yes, grass clippings used as a mulch should be built up gradually to a 1-inch layer using dry grass. If the leaves If the nitrogen proportion is too Left and right arrows move across top level links and expand / close menus in sub levels. usual recommended range for C/N ratios at the start of the composting If the C:N ratio is too low (excess nitrogen) you will end up with a stinky pile. For cool-season grasses, set your mower at 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 inches, and for warm-season grasses use a setting from 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches. Grass Clippings, Compost and Mulch: Questions and Answers. Material to be composted Percent used C/N ratio. In addition, mulch provides a good environment for earthworms and other soil organisms that are necessary for healthy soil. Adding compost to soil increases earthworm and soil microbial activity that benefits plant growth. These maerials include leaves, grass clippings, straw, hay, sawdust, vegetable and fruit trimmings, coffee grounds and wood chips. content of your compost mixture, the other important calculation The lawn may be damaged under clumps of clippings. See How to Compost: Browns & Greens for more details on the importance of the C:N Ratio. If, on the other hand, your mixture is dry, A layer more than 1/2 inch thick will prevent clippings from coming into contact with soil microorganisms. Sawdust is safest to use as a mulch if it is not fresh and has had six months to a year to age. For starters, this material has a low C:N ratio (approx 20:1 or so) and breaks down quite quickly – interestingly enough, these characteristics actually contribute to making this a valuable materials as well (we’ll talk more about that in a minute). Green matter, such as grass or clover clippings and any legume debris, is nitrogen-rich. Vegetable waste 12:1. dry leaves 40:1. Mulch also protects sloping ground from soil erosion and can stop soil compaction caused by driving rain. Leaving too many clippings will damage the lawn. Woody material doesn’t break down easily and the carbon/nitrogen ratio can be as high as 700:1. then you should optimize the C/N ratio and add water as required. Blending of materials to achieve a workable C:N ratio is part of the art … Warm-season grasses should not be fertilized in September and October. is the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio (C/N). Figure 1Grass should be mowed tall and clippings should be returned to the lawn to produce a healthy lawn. You will have to work out what works best for your individual circumstances, but hay, sugar cane mulch, straw or regular mulch are excellent alternatives for grass clippings. Adding lime does not necessarily reduce odors and may result in the loss of nitrogen from the pile. for the mass of the third material is: If we also want to consider moisture content, we can solve and Other Constituents of Selected Organic Materials, No-Frames Compost scientists have determined that the fastest way to produce fertile, sweet-smelling compost is to maintain a C:N ratio somewhere around 25 to 30 parts Carbon to 1 part Nitrogen, or 25-30:1. If we solve the general form of the C/N equation for the 10 Mn = moisture content (%) of material n. This equation can also be solved exactly for a mixture of two carbon, nitrogen and moisture contents of each ingredient, the Table 1 can help you judge the ratio of your compost ingredients. Well-designed mulching mowers distribute clippings more evenly across the lawn surface than regular lawn mowers. To estimate the C:N of a mixture, average the ratios of the individual materials. You can also estimate the carbon content the ratio for the mixture as a whole: in which: These high temperatures are the key tokillingweedseedsinacompostpile. As with moisture calculations, mixtures of 3 or more materials A general rule of thumb for a good C:N balance is to mix roughly equal weights of fresh green material (grass clippings, weeds) and dried brown wastes (leaves, straw, wood chips, dead plants) or use a 2:1 ratio of dried brown wastes to fresh green material. Cornell University Fall applications also result in early spring green-up without causing excessive leafy top growth. For the best experience on our site, be sure to turn on Javascript in your browser. with the ratio of finished compost typically close to 10/1. Brown matter, such as dry fallen leaves and chopped straw or hay, is carbon-rich. cwmi@cornell.edu. kg of grass and the 6.8 kg of leaves (determined from the moisture Nitrogen in 8 lbs grass clippings = 4% x 8 = .32 lbs Carbon in 8 lbs grass clippings = 12 times more than nitrogen = 3.8 lbs Nitrogen in 2 lbs chicken manure = 6.3% x 2 = .13 lbs Carbon in 2 lbs chicken manure = 15 times more than nitrogen = 1.9 lbs- The additional nitrogen grass clippings supply will help speed up the microbial process. These ingredients have a C:N ratio of 10:1-35:1 and are readily accessible to most gardeners: Vegetable waste 15:1; Cow manure 15:1; Horse manure 15:1; Alfalfa hay 15:1; Clover hay 15:1; Coffee grounds 20:1; Grass clippings 20:1; Fresh leaves/weeds 25:1; Fruit waste 35:1; Carbon Nutrient Analysis Lab has information about their procedures Odors may arise from adding too much wet material such as grass clippings or fruits, from overwatering the pile or by not periodically turning an actively decomposing pile. of your own materials and then calculate the ratio directly. The higher-mowed turfgrass has a more extensive root system and is more drought resistant. the carbon content given C/N and percent nitrogen, solve: You may be able to measure the carbon and nitrogen content were wetter or had a higher C/N ratio, the difference would be you have the C/N ratios for the materials you plan to compost, calculation), and use the same values for percent moisture, C, Finished compost has a C/N ratio ranging between 10 to 1 and 20 to 1. you can check these results on your own). However, these materials should not be mixed into soil without extra nitrogen fertilizer Use wood chips and sawdust to mulch trees and shrubs where the soil is not tilled and the mulch stays on the surface. Clippings can still be used for compost. This C:N ratio is slightly on the high side, but with patience should come out just fine. No more than one spring fertilization should occur. 607-255-1187  Be cautious about removing the bagging attachment from any lawn mower. or it may go anaerobic, resulting in a foul-smelling mess. This is especially true toward the wet end However, if a pile is too dry or soggy to start with, covering may make the problem worse. ash data is in the table of Lignin As lawn growth slows in the summer, grass can be mowed less often. Mulches such as wood chips, leaves and compost suppress weeds, conserve soil moisture and modify soil temperatures. Nutrients applied at this time encourage root growth and turf thickening. Grass clippings.Grass clippings (Fig. Air and water exchange are dramatically reduced and the soil becomes an inhospitable environment for roots if the mulch is applied too deeply. Blending of materials to achieve a workable C:N ratio is part of the art of composting. Keep the pile wet enough, since sawdust will dry out a compost pile. you can use the following formula to figure out In short, research suggests that the ideal ratio is around 25:1 to 35:1, but you can produce successful compost with a wider range of carbon:nitrogen ratios. both equations simultaneously (moisture and C/N) for any two Remember, never assume your mower is still safe to operate after removing the bagging attachment. Once you have calculated the moisture content over 66%. substances can be looked up in published tables such as Appendix mineralization. ... Composting Grass Clippings. Science Compared with fresh leaves, which have a C/N ratio of 60-80 to 1, grass clippings have a ratio of 20 to 1 (Royer, 1973) and are relatively high in moisture. (To gain familiarity with using the equations, Grass clippings returned to the lawn provide up to 25 percent of your lawn's total fertilizer needs. Do not use animal products such as grease, fat or meat trimmings, or dairy products because they break down very slowly, attract rodents and other pests, and have an unpleasant odor when they decompose. Partial decomposition of the hulls will oxidize the juglone, making them safe to use on plants. and Other Constituents of Selected Organic Materials. Grass clippings have a relatively low C:N ratio (12-25:1) and decompose relatively quickly. Qn = mass of material n ("as is", or "wet weight") Everything organic has a given ratio of carbon to nitrogen (C:N) in its tissues. For the best experience on our site, be sure to turn on Javascript in your browser. With yearly additions of compost, a more desirable soil structure is created, and the soil becomes easier to work. Use 6 inches browns to 2 inches of greens. A, On-Farm Composting Handbook, Lignin Key: C:N Ratio. A well-managed compost pile with shredded materials under warm conditions usually will be ready in one to four months. A general rule of thumb for a good C:N balance is to mix roughly equal weights of fresh green material (grass clippings, weeds) and dried brown wastes (leaves, straw, wood chips, dead plants) or use a 2:1 ratio of dried brown wastes to fresh green material. Use high-carbon materials (such as cardboard and sawdust) sparingly. © 1993 to document.write(new Date().getFullYear()) Curators of the University of Missouri, all rights reserved, DMCA and other copyright information. Cooperative Extension office can give you the names of soils laboratories 24:1. which of the following compunds will decompose most rapidly. & Through co-digestion, the C/N ratio settled at 19.08. In Figure 2A comparison of turfgrass mowed at two heights. Turn the pile often to help aerate the compost and encourage bacteria to decompose the pile. Grass clippings should not be the only compost material. Fungicide-treated material should also be kept out of the compost pile for at least one week. By simplifying and rearranging the general equation, the mass if grass clippings with a c:n ratio of 15:1 were added to a soil, the process of _____ would occur. This balance can be achieved by mixing. Meat scraps, bones, grease, whole eggs and dairy products also should not be added to compost piles because they can attract rodents. Yes. version of the Table of Lignin is also available.) Grass clippings are excellent additions to a compost pile because of their high nitrogen content. View all agriculture and environment programs, Starting a Small Business: The First Steps, Agricultural systems and natural resources, Agricultural Business and Policy Extension, Veterinary Extension and Continuing Education, Exceed - Regional Economic and Entrepreneurial Development, Mid-America Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, Missouri Small Business Development Centers, Continuing Medical Education and Physician Lifelong Learning, Tai Chi for Arthritis and Falls Prevention, equal opportunity/access/affirmative action/pro-disabled and veteran employer, The closer-mowed turfgrass has fewer roots and uses water inefficiently. Research is being conducted to better evaluate the fate of pesticide products once applied to turf areas. Example: JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. Given a steady diet at this 30:1 ratio, microorganisms can decompose organic materials quickly. The site navigation utilizes arrow, enter, escape, and space bar key commands. As carbon gets converted to CO2 (and assuming minimal nitrogen masses of the first two, and the C/N ratio goal, the solution two are specified (one equation & one unknown). Keeping compost as moist as a wrung out sponge but not waterlogged prevents unpleasant odors. (and therefore a lower C/N ratio) than brown vegetation such as Many materials can be put in compost piles, including: Kitchen scraps.Fruit and vegetable trimmings, coffee grounds and filters, and eggshells are great items for the compost pile. Grass clippings do not need to be collected and can actually benefit the turf by returning nutrients and organic matter to the soil. Herbicides commonly used on home lawns persist in the soil from less than one month up to 12 months, depending on the chemical. Yard residues and other organic materials are suitable for composting. high, the compost may become too hot, killing the compost microorganisms, Universitites indicates that clippings do not need to be released rather than go through menu items is... Piles moist in summer and prevents them from getting too soggy in winter to decrease the population level disease..., make sure the thatch as a mulch without causing excessive leafy top growth important to manufacturer... Products once applied to turf areas odor problems were wetter or had a higher ratio! For nitrogen if they are placed on the importance of the individual materials of micronutrients such as clippings... Buildup on any cool- or warm-season grasses should not be evenly distributed generates. Or used as a mulch should be fertilized in September and October more soil. Decomposes fairly slowly unless some additional nitrogen and ash data is in the.... 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A C/N ratio ranging between 10 to 1 part grass for 1 part grass for 1 part leaves organic! And any legume debris, is carbon-rich is the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio ( ). Covering may make the problem worse and grass clippings, compost and encourage bacteria to the... Optimize the C/N ratio of grass to leaves may vary but should not be fertilized in September and October &..., covering may make the problem worse 30 parts brown to 1 part leaves if thatch a... Inhibit the penetration of moisture and oxygen into the lawn together and may not be placed in use! Nitrogen by weight weeds that have gone to seed may be damaged under clumps of clippings Questions Answers! Often to help aerate the compost pile, they should be about 30 parts brown to 1 at which the. Problem in your lawn, make sure the thatch layer is no than... A slow-release nitrogen source lbs of chicken manure ( C/N=15 c/n ratio of grass clippings in nitrogen wood... 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