Composting

Millie Davenport,
Home & Garden Information Center

Resist the urge to bag your grass clippings. Yes, grass clippings are a great source of nitrogen to add to the compost bin. But, when lawns are mowed at the proper height and time, the grass clippings fall back into the lawn and can provide up to 25% of the lawns yearly fertilizer needs. These grass clippings will help keep the lawn greener and healthier. Contrary to what most people believe, grass clippings do not contribute to thatch build up. Thatch is a dense, spongy collection of living and dead grass stems and roots lying between the soil surface and green grass leaves in established lawns. Thatch build-up can be avoided by following adequate fertilizer and irrigation needs for the lawn. Excessive fertilization and irrigation causes excessive growth that leads to an increase in sloughed-off plant matter, creating the thatch layer.

Composting bin
Composting bin
Karen Russ, ©2007 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Other items to add to the compost pile this summer include:

  1. Stems, flowers and vegetable parts that are removed from the flower and vegetable beds can be recycled in the compost bin.
  2. Weeds that have not gone to seed can be added to the compost pile. Those weeds with large roots such as Florida betony and nutsedge should be placed in the sun to dry out before placing them in the compost pile.

Composting yard waste instead of throwing it into the landfill will provide you with a rich, brown, crumbly soil amendment. Compost can be used to improve the drainage of clay soils and help sandy soils retain soil moisture and nutrients.

For more detailed information on composting see, HGIC 1600, Composting.

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This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.