Q.Skummy, Mucky, Smelly Grass Clippings
My landscaping neighbor, at my request, often drops off copious amounts of grass clippings. I’m usually unable to collect them and pile them into my compost before the rains hit. So I end up with a hot, wet, and very smelly pile of processing grass clippings. Are these scummy, smelly clippings worth keeping? Assuming they are, should I put them directly into my raised beds or through them on to my compost pile?
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
They are still ok to use, but I would put them in the compost pile. This is part of the reason you are suppose to have "greens" and "browns" in the compost pile. When balanced, it keeps it from getting smelly from too much green material.
Maybe the grass clippings were scummy, smelly when the neighbor left them with you. Grass clipping are so high in water that they decompose quickly in a bag because there's no air. Your neighbor is wasting a resource, grass clippings are 10% nitrogen; if you mow regularly the clippings will be about 1/2 inch long and just filter down to the soil surface. They don't contribute to thatch or spread turf disease. Cut it and leave it means you can buy about 25% less fertilizer. Besides the lawn has a steady supply of nutrients rather than a feast or famine cycle which is common between fertilizer applications. If the clippings were dry you could add them to the pile but you would need lots of brown material mixed evenly in with the clippings to get good air distribution and prevent odors.
Grass clippings are difficult to compost as they have a lot of chlorophyll.
I have had luck mixing them with in with my compost a small amount at a time.