Composting Grass Clippings

by Harry
(Morgan, NJ)

I recently loaded my compost bin with 8 bags of grass clippings, and now it really stinks. Is there something I can do to reduce this odor? I thought composting grass clippings was supposed to be easy?

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Dec 23, 2011
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Too Many Grass Clippings
by: Gardener Ed

Grass clippings are high in nitrogen. They also compact and therefore exclude air. You have anaerobic decomposition and anaerobic bacteria produce foul smelling gases. Ammonia gas (NH4) is one of them and this leads to a loss of nitrogen from your compost. Your Carbon:Nitrogen ratio is too high. Add more high carbon materials like leaves, straw, or even wood shavings or sawdust. Turn the pile often to get more air into it.

Shoot for a Carbon:Nitrogen ratio of 30:1. Layer leaves and grass clippings. You don't need to be exact with the materials; just estimates and by volume.

Dec 23, 2011
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Composting Grass Clippings
by: Compost Junkie Dave

Ed, I couldn't have said it better myself. I just added a couple tags to your post, so Harry could easily reference more material on C:N ratios.

When I as younger, my Dad had a big ol' wooden compost bin our backyard. Every time he would cut the lawn, he would bag the leaves (a big no no!) and pile them in the compost bin. Needless to say, we had some disgusting odors emerging from our backyard for many weeks during the summer. Surprisingly, even though we lived in suburbia, and our neighbors had a pool (so they were always in their backyard), they didn't complain about the odors. Well, at least not to us...

Thanks to his compost-crazy son, my Dad now cuts and composts his grass clippings on the spot.

Thanks for your post Ed.

Anyone else have anything else to share on the topic?

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