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The term is a portmanteau combining "grass" and "recycling", and had come into use by at least 1990[1] as part of the push to reduce the huge quantities of clippings going into landfills, up to half of some cities' summertime waste flow,[2] as 1,000 square feet (93 m2) of lawn can produce 200 to 500 pounds (90 to 225 kg) of clippings a year.[3]

Because grass consists largely of H2O (80% or more[4]), contains little lignin,[4] and has high nitrogen content, grass clippings easily break down and return to the soil within one to two weeks,[3] acting primarily as a fertilizer supplement and, to a much smaller degree, a mulch. Grasscycling can provide 15 to 20% or more of a lawn's yearly nitrogen requirements.[5][6] Proponents also note that grasscycling reduces the use of plastic bags for collecting yard waste and reduces trips to the curb or landfill to haul waste.[7]

Optimal grasscycle techniques include:[3][5][8]

  • Cutting no more than 1/3 the length of the grass, or when the grass is dry to the touch, or height is between 3 and 4 inches (7 to 10 cm)
  • Ensuring that the mower blade is sharp

Although a mulching mower can make grass clippings smaller, one is not necessary for grasscycling.


one ton of fresh clippings contain approximately 15 pounds of N, 2 pounds of P, 10 pounds of K, over 1,700 pounds of H2O

one acre of grassland can save over 50-75 tons of CO2, and (31,850-2,775)/4,488 tons of Al

one square foot of grassland can gain 500 grams of O per day

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