Fall lawn advice: Try 'Grass-cycling'

Lawnmower running over leaves in a yard

By Brandon Hearn

Throughout Johnson County leaves will begin to fall as we head into autumn, and many will take to their yards with rakes and brown yard waste bags in hand.

Comprising 11% of the Johnson County landfill, yard waste is no small matter. It’s illegal to dump leaves and yard waste into the storm drain and they contain nutrients that can still be used. However, bagging leaves and grass clippings takes a lot of time and cramming them into bags or bundling them can be difficult.

Here are some ways you can manage your yard waste and help our environment, too.

  • Leave it all on the lawn. Not only do grass clippings and leaves help retain moisture, but they also return up to 25% of the nutrients back into the soil. University research recommends that you mulch your leaves and grass clippings using a mulching mower. By “grass-cycling” properly your lawn will look great, and you can save money on fertilizing. Save time this fall and recycle your lawn by skipping the bag and leaving your leaves on your lawn instead.
  • Start a backyard compost bin. Compost bins are available in many hardware stores, online, or you can make your own. Combine your yard waste, leaves, grass clippings, along with certain food waste, coffee grounds, eggshells and more to make us - able compost. Contact us if you have questions about composting options.
  • Bag or bundle it and leave it at the curb. Your trash and recycling hauler also provides yard waste collection. Depending on their rules you can dispose of grass clippings and leaves in paper bags only or in a durable bin that can be labeled as containing yard waste. Limbs can be collected if they are cut down and bundled together. Check with your trash or recycling hauler for specific information on their requirements.

For more information, contact me at the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment at brandon.hearn@jocogov.org or 913-715-6936.

Healthy lawns advice is also available by the K-State Research and Extension Service at kansashealthyyards.org.

Brandon Hearn is environmental health specialist at the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.