Edmonton Master Composter Recycler Program Lesson Three: Grasscycling

Over the next two months I will be sharing my experience with the Edmonton Master Composter-Recycler Program. Maybe it will inspire somebody to learn more about composting. Maybe a few people will discover more about recycling. Perhaps more than one reader will find something here that they can take away and use in their own community.

I haven’t bagged my lawn clippings since I can remember. I never understood why anybody would go through the trouble and mess to collect the grass when it could be left on the lawn to feed the soil. In the fall I collect a combination of grass and leaves to use as a protective mulch on my flowerbeds, but other than that I don’t use the bag on my mower at all.

Grasscycling is one of the least complicated things Edmontonians can do to reduce waste.


In the summer months 40-50% of all household waste picked up curbside is grass clippings. Yes, it is composted at our Composting Facility, but transporting to the facility is a huge drain on resources. Bags of grass are heavy, dense and take up space in the truck – trucks fill up faster and need to make more trips to the waste management facility. In addition, the volume of grass overloads the compost system throwing off the balance of nitrogen and carbon rich materials. Leaving it in situ, that is on the lawn, is a much more efficient and environmentally sound practice.

So how does one go about grasscycling? It’s easy. Any lawnmower can be used. Simply cut your lawn at a height of 2.5-3 inches every 4-5 days during peak growing season. Cut it high and cut it dry. The time you save collecting clippings will easily make up for a few more cuttings during the summer months.

Leaving clippings on the lawn improves the lawn’s ability to retain moisture and provides much needed nitrogen and other micro-nutrients to the soil. It’s a win-win situation. It’s one of those things that doesn’t demand over-thinking. If anything, it requires under-thinking.

VIDEO: City of Edmonton Grasscycling

Special thanks to this week’s guest instructors:

Mary-Jo Gurba-Flanagan: Graduate of the MCR program 2007
Pat Church & Myles Curry: Social Marketing, Waste Management Department – Designing campaigns to change people’s behavior