Grass clippings, leaves and plant prunings are a valuable source of mulch and nutrients for lawns and gardens, but can be pollutants when washed directly into storm drains and surface waters.
Recycle these valuable nutrients on the spot and reduce or even eliminate the need for fertilizers and watering. Recycling yard waste reduces the amount of solid waste going to the landfill.
Many gardeners know the value of composting yard waste. Compost provides a slow, steady release of nutrients. It also builds soil organic matter, which improves soil fertility and moisture holding capacity.
To be successful, composting does require the use of proper materials, ingredients and methods. Learn more:
The location of a compost pile in your yard is also important. Do not locate a compost pile near a storm drain, surface water or drinking water well.
Many towns offer a program where residents can bring leaves and grass clippings to the landfill or transfer station free of charge. The town composts these materials and allows residents to pick up finished compost for home use, also free of charge. Check with your town for more information.
With a mulching lawn mower, grass clippings and leaves can be chopped and left on the lawn, serving as a source of slow-release nutrients and building soil organic matter. Most standard lawn mowers can be retrofitted with a mulching blade kit.
Leaves and grass clippings can also be raked and used as mulch in gardens and beds. Mulch is valuable in conserving soil moisture, regulating soil temperature, suppressing weeds, and building soil organic matter.
Pine needles as mulch at URI’s Botanical Gardens
If you have tree limbs, brush, and large prunings, consider renting a wood chipper and using the finished product as mulch or as a material for walkways, parking and recreational areas.
Download a Printable Factsheet:
For more information about recycling yard waste
URI Master Gardener Program Hotline: 1 (800) 448-1011
Information on composting livestock manure – Small Acreage Livestock Education Program