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Give an Inch, Save a Yard: Grasscycling and Mulching

Grasscycling is a simple method for recycling your yard waste. If you mow your lawn so that grass is never more than 2 to 3 inches tall, leave the grass clippings where they fall and allow them to decompose. To foster healthy grass, do not cut more than one-third of the blade, and no more than one-inch total. The clippings return nutrients to your yard, and you do not have to spend time and money bagging or hauling them away. One study showed that, by not bagging clippings, mowing took about 38 percent less time.

Contrary to the popular belief, grass clippings do not cause thatch. Thatch is actually a layer of organic material made up of grass roots, not mown grass blades. Grass roots contain lignin, a substance that decomposes very slowly and causes thatch. Grass clippings are about 90 percent water, so they decompose very quickly.

Mulching is another way to reuse so-called yard waste. Make mulch from chipped or shredded wood waste or dried leaves. Mulching involves spreading thin layers of dry organic waste around the base of plants to prevent weed growth, retain water, regulate soil temperature, and add nutrients back to the soil. Grass clippings also make excellent mulch.

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