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When to Use a Grass Box for Compost on Your Lawnmower

by Michelle W.

posted in Business

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Before starting to say anything about lawns, grass and lawnmowers, it has to be acknowledged that it can sometimes be difficult to find two people who will agree on anything to do with this subject!
Almost every gardening organisation or expert will have their own approaches, views, philosophies and things they either love or hate in terms of grass cutting and the associated subject of composting.
What follows here is a very personal view only!
The grass box
This can be both a blessing and a curse.
If you have a larger area of grass and you have been unlucky with the weather early in the season, then your grass box on your mower could easily prove to be as much of a hindrance as a help.
That's because when the grass is longer, even if you go for a relatively high cutting level, your grass box is going to fill up very quickly. Due to the understandable use of safety switches and cut outs, that means you're going to spend a lot of time emptying it and restarting your mower afterwards - effectively probably spending more time doing that than you will actually cutting it!
That means when you cut the grass to begin with early in the season and assuming it is fairly long to start with, you are probably going to be faced with either the above messing about or leaving the cuttings where they fall as a form of mulch and moisture provider to the soil. You can rake them up afterwards once they've dried out - another less than pleasant job for most of us.
It's a tough call!
Of course, once your grass is under control and you are hopefully cutting it regularly, the grass box will collect most of your cuttings as you go and that is going to save you a lot of physical labour in trying to clear them up afterwards.
Some people though would argue that your cuttings should always be left on the grass for a period of time afterwards so that some moisture and nutrients go back into the soil. Others will say "rubbish" to that one and argue that most of the goodness in grass cuttings evaporates out into the air anyway.
Once again, it's up to you!
Disposing of your cuttings
Here we are on hopefully more common ground.
You can use a percentage of your grass cuttings in your compost heap. Now the science of making good compost is interesting and relatively straightforward but most experts will caution against using an excess of grass cuttings in terms of their percentage of the total mix.
That's because if they form a substantial part of your compost, there is a risk that they will make the overall result go a little 'sour'.
Just what constitutes an acceptable percentage of grass cuttings in the compost heap is, you'll be unsurprised to know, a matter of yet more debate! The best thing to do is to complete a little research on the Internet and perhaps talk to a good retailer of agricultural lawnmowers and tractors as they may have some useful tips on that one too.
A quick safety comment on your grass box
It's not that unusual to see people opening up the door on the box (or removing it if that's not possible) to try and see what's going inside when the motor is still running. If you do, expect to get a face full of grass and other bits and pieces!
More worryingly, you can sometimes see people trying to reach down inside the box to clear a blockage when the motor is still running. Many grass boxes now make that impossible but some don't and those can be dangerous. Even if you can, never stick your hand inside a grass box to 'rummage around' when the lawnmower is still turning over.
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