x/EPA
                    United States
                    Environmental Protection
                    Agency
                                           Office of Solid Waste
                                           and Emergency Response
                                           (OS-305)
            EPA/530-F-92-012
            July 1992
                    Office of Solid Waste
                    Environmental
                    Fact  Sheet
                    RECYCLING  GRASS CLIPPINGS
                          Nationwide, State and local governments, lawn equipment
                    manufacturers, lawn care professionals, and others are working to divert
                    yard trimmings from municipal solid waste. The U.S. Environmental
                    Protection Agency (EPA) recommends leaving grass clippings on lawns,
                    rather than collecting and bagging them. Leaving grass clippings on the
                    lawn (1) enhances the natural health of lawns by improving the soil and
                    turf growth, and (2) reduces the amount of waste that must be collected
                    ana managed.
Clippings Enhance Your
Lawn

   EPA recommends
leaving grass clippings on
lawns to reduce the
amount of waste that
must be collected and
managed and to enhance
the natural health of
lawns. As short grass
clippings filter to the
ground and naturally
decompose, nutrients
return to the soil and
support further turf
growth by supplying part
of the lawn's fertilizer
needs. This practice can
save about one fertilizer
application per year.

   Grass clippings in-
crease the soil's organic
matter content, along with
its ability to retain mois-
ture and nutrients, to
                            resist erosion, and to main-
                            tain cooler temperatures
                            during the summer.

                              The Texas A & M Univer-
                            sity System and the Texas
                            Agricultural Extension report
                            that clippings usually con-
                            tain about four percent
                            nitrogen, 0.5 percent phos-
                            phorous, and two percent
                            potassium, as well as essen-
                            tial minor elements.*


                            Why Be Concerned About
                            Grass Clippings?

                               Nationwide, state and
                            local governments, lawn
                            equipment manufacturers,
                            lawn care professionals, and
                            others are working to divert
                            yard  trimmings-including
                            grass clippings, leaves,
                            brush, and tree prunings-
                            from municipal solid waste.
By mid 1995, 20 states
will have banned landfill
disposal of yard trim-
mings, the second largest
component of the solid
waste stream.  Nationally,
yard trimmings account
for nearly 20 percent (over
31 million tons) of munici-
pal solid waste generated
each year. Grass clip-
pings account for over half
of all the yard trimmings
generated.
   The amount of yard
trimmings generated var-
ies considerably by region,
season, and even from
year to year. During peak
months (primarily, sum-
mer and fall), yard
trimmings can represent
as much as 25 to 50 per-
cent of municipal solid
waste.
                                                         Recycled/Recyclable
                                                         Printed with Soy/Canola Ink on paper that
                                                         contains at least 50% recycled fiber

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                                         -2-
Clippings and Thatch
   Grass clippings do not
cause thatch when left on
lawns. Thatch, rather, is a
layer of organic material
comprised of grass roots,
not the grass blade that is
mowed. Grass roots contain
ligriin, a substance that is
very slow to decompose and
causes thatch.  Grass clip-
pings, however, which are up
to 90 percent water (wet
weight) arid contain little
lignin, decompose quickly.

Making the Switch

   To foster healthy stand-
ing grass, do not cut more
than one third of the blade
off, and  no more than one
inch total, at any one time
(the exact mowing height
depends on grass type and
climate).  In making the
switch, participants in a Fort
Worth, Texas, pilot project
found that, since bagging the
clippings was no longer
necessary, they spent an
average of 38 percent less
time on each mowing.*
Looking For More Information on Yard
Trimmings Management or Other
Municipal Solid Waste Issues?

      EPA's Office of Solid Waste offers a
number of fact sheets and pamphlets on
municipal solid waste management for
citizens and  community leaders.  One such
fact sheet, Yard Waste Composting, takes a
general look at the whys, whats, and hows
related to backyard composting.

      Publications are available by contacting
the RCRA Hotline, Monday through Friday,
8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., EST, at (800) 424-
9346.  For the hearing impaired, the number
is TDD (800) 553-7672. Or write to:

   RCRA Information Center (RIC)
   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
   Office of Solid Waste (OS-305)
   401 M Street SW.f Washington, DC 20460.

     Another EPA publication, Yard Waste
Composting: A Study of Eight Programs, is
available for a fee from the National Technical
Information Service (NTIS).  To order, call
(703) 487-4650 and ask for  publication
number PB90-163 114.
                     Yard Trimmings Management
                            for Homeowners

                 EPA, in cooperation with the Colorado
                 State University Cooperative Extension,
                 developed a brochure on yard trim-
                 mings recycling/composting , entitled
                 "EASY" (Environmental Action Starts
                 in your Yard).  This brochure provides
                 more detailed information on advan-
                 tages of mulching, composting, and
                 other beneficial home uses for yard
                 trimmings. To receive a copy, write to:

                          George Donnelly
                          U.S. Environmental Protection
                          Agency, Region 8
                          999 18th Street
                          Denver, CO 80202
* Dr. Bill Knoop, Texas Agricultural Extension Service. The Texas A&M University
  System, College Station^ TK.

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