While many landscapers know the economic and environmental advantages of grasscycling—their customers may be less aware.
Rescue Nature’s Nutrients, a volunteer grassroots non-profit organization started by White Plains resident Nancy Giges, is helping local landscapers to get out the word about the benefits of grasscycling—the practice of using a blade on the lawn mower that finely chops grass and leaves the clippings on the lawn, instead of having them bagged and left for curbside pick-up.
“We’re here to help your customers understand,” said Giges, a volunteer master gardener with Cornell Cooperative, at an informational event for local landscapers held at the Gedney Recycling Yard. “In the spring we will demonstrate to homeowners why it’s good for them, and why it’s good for the grass. Hopefully that will help.”
The event explained the benefits of grasscycling, as well as the techniques and equipment needed to grasscycle.
Grasscycling keeps your lawn healthy by adding nutrients, like nitrogen, eliminating the need for fertilizer. It prevents one from having to water their lawn often, as grass clippings are 75 to 85 percent water and decompose rapidly returning moisture to the soil.
It also prevents landscapers from having to blow the clippings away with a leaf blower—or bag the clippings, then haul them to the City’s recycling facility for the White Plains Department of Public Works to process. Mulching mowers also help prevent catch basins from becoming clogged.
Local landscapers Tim Downey and Anthony Vulpone, who attended the event, said that grasscycling doesn’t leave your lawn an unsightly mess since an attachment that is placed on the lawn mower shreds the grass so fine that the clippings virtually disappear on one’s lawn. According to a pamphlet on grasscycling from Westchester County, grasscycling can reduce mowing time by 25 to 30 percent,
DPW Commissioner Bud Nicoletti said the City has use mulching lawn mowers on all City property, for years. The White Plains School District also uses mulching mowers. It used to allow landscapers to drop off grassclippings on a weekly basis, however since the nitrogen build up would cause an ordor from the mass amounts of clipping the City would accumulate, the City began to charge landscapers to dump their grass clippings.
“More and more landscapers are trying to prevent grassclipings form coming in,” said Nicoletti. “It’s good for us, and it’s good for everyone else.”
Anne Jaffe Holmes of the Greenburgh Nature Center said that the Village of Irvington saved $150,000 by recycling their leaves. White Plains plans to eventually promote leaf recycling, as well.
“We live in a time where what’s good for the environment is making sense economically,” said Holmes. “We have a lot to learn from nature right now, and this kind of movement to mulch and leave organic waste on site is really a move back into the future.”
According to Holmes, Westchester County spends 4.7 million to haul off leaves. There are currently 22 communities in Westchester who are leaf mulching.
“Legislators are concerned and need to enable people to recognize they have a roll to play in helping the county’s budget,” said Holmes. “These budgetary problems can be helped by what us as individuals do on our own properties.”
County Legislator Mary Jane Shimsky said the County is currently working on legislation to educate landscapers in the county about mulching in place, as well as a legislation that would require mulching on all County properties.
“It really boils down to—it’s easy, it saves money and time for everyone and preserves the environment,” said Mayor Tom Roach, at the event.
Click on our PDF, videos and read below for more information and tips on grasscycling:
- (Editor’s Note: The following information is from the White Plains Department of Public Works.) Aerate the lawn each spring for deep root growth and to open soil. Use a mulching or conventional mower. Keep the blades sharp and raise the height of the lawn mower to a minimum of 3 inches. Grass, 3” to 4” tall produces strong roots; resilient to weeds. Cut no more than a third of the height of the DRY grass each mowing, and mow frequently. If too long, cross cut the lawn to disperse clippings.
- Properly cut and scattered grass clippings will not cause thatch. The clippings decompose into a water holding humus, so don’t over water. Clippings add nitrogen and other nutrients to the lawn and soil, and keep the soil temperature cool and uniform.
- The healthier a lawn, the less need for chemical additives, so you’ll save money on fertilizers and chemicals.
- If it is necessary to collect clippings, add to compost! If you bag your yard waste, use paper bags, or put it in containers and DPW will pick up your compostables! See page 5 for more information.
For information on about equipment and grasscycling techniques contact the following local landscapers:
- Tim Downey, Aesthetic Landscape Care: (914) 478-7320 or TDowney520@optonline.net
- Anthony Vulpone, Vulpone Landscaping and Lawn Maintenance: (914) 755-1121 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For suggestions, information and help with materials for homeowners contact:
- Nancy Giges, Resuce Nature’s Nutrients: (914) 761-4869 or email@example.com