Come summer, and the grass in the garden seems to grow faster each day.
While it is the perfect weather to set up a barbecue outdoors or spend time with the family in the garden, it does take some regular maintenance to keep the garden accessible and enjoyable. One unavoidable routine is the regular maintenance of grass – keeping the grass trimmed is going to make it easier for you to plan those activities in your backyard.
While those with the tendency towards hay fever or allergies may not agree, the smell of freshly cut grass seems to bring an olfactory pleasure to the meaning of summer. What wouldn’t we trade, in the middle of the cold winter, to get a whiff of freshly cut grass, a reminder of longer and warmer days!
The question, however, is what one is to do with the grass clippings once you have finished your garden maintenance.
Here are a few ideas, some commonly known, and others a little offbeat, that may be useful!
One of the easiest ways to keep your garden healthy is to smartly rotate garden waste in a manner that benefits the plants. Spread out the grass trimmings in a single layer on a well-ventilated surface and allow it to dry evenly. This dry grass can then be used as mulch around your plants and trees.
Mulch is a great way to help the soil retain its moisture and prevent rapid evaporation when you water your plants. Furthermore, mulch slowly breaks down into what is known as organic matter, which acts like a sponge in the soil and holds the water around your plants for a long time. Mulch also is a clever way to control weeds, by covering the soil and preventing unwanted seeds from germinating by blocking out the sunlight.
This sounds like a delicious idea for a potluck – you may not know it, but your garden will enjoy lasagna as much as you do!
Lasagna composting is an easy way to get your soil to be healthy and full of natural microorganisms, that balance the eco system in the soil, attracting good bacteria and helping your plants develop a robust immune system. All you need to do is layer green garden waste all over your soil, and then alternate this layer with a layer of dry waste or brown waste, such as dried leaves, twigs, dry grass, or cardboard. Your grass trimmings will work in both layers, either as fresh trimmings in the green layer, or else you could dry the grass and use it in the brown layer.
Lasagna composting is easy to do, because you just add another layer of compost every time you accumulate a batch of garden waste that is to be discarded. The lower layers will keep decomposing into manure leaving space for layers to be added on top.
Freshly cut grass is quite a treat for the extended family you may rear in your backyard. Chickens, pigs, cattle – they all would relish the buffet of fresh green grass. If you do not keep any animals yourself, you could plan a friendly barter with a neighboring farmer, who may be happy to take the grass clipping in exchange for some animal manure!
Dried grass can also be used for bedding for animals and birds. Chickens will enjoy it as nesting material, and even your household pets will enjoy the soft bedding. Make sure the grass has been dried well before using it as bedding, to make sure there is no build up of moisture and fungus.
We spoke about how the aroma of grass reminds us of summer, which makes grass an excellent ingredient for potpourri. Dry grass can help create a lot of bulk in your potpourri mix, and it holds fragrances very well.
Mix it up with some orange peels spices to create a spicy autumn mix or choose dried petals and flowers for a light floral fragrance. Either way, this bit of garden waste can create some heady aroma for your indoor spaces as well. And imagine how much easier that Christmas gifting is going to be, when you have bundles of homemade potpourri to hand out!
Roofs and Sheds
A lot of traditional architecture uses grass as part of their home building plan. While it may not be a long-lasting solution and needs to be reworked every year, a roof made of hay works as excellent insulation, keeping the space below it cool in the summer. Perhaps you could consider a hay roof for the patio outdoors or for the animal enclosure – it creates quaint appeal.
Grass can be also used in several other ways – creating strength to mud walls, using it to create shapes and contours on plastered surfaces. Grass is also used as a temporary plumbing fix to plug leaks!
Grass could be used creatively in the kitchen. There are several European cheeses that are aged on a bed on specific varieties of grass, making them a seasonal specialty.
You could spread a layer of dry grass on your shelves or floor and allow it to create insulation to ripen fruits. Dry grass is also useful tinder to give you a jump start to fire up your barbecue. And every gourmet meal tastes better when the flavors are smoked – you could use grass to create smoke for your flavor infusions.
Like I said at the beginning, there are plenty options when it comes to using grass clippings – throwing the clippings away would be an utter shame, particularly if you pride yourself on having a self-sufficient farmstead.
In rural households, every clipping of grass and crop is saved carefully, which is why the countryside is usually dotted with haystack and bales or rolled hay.
That’s what summer is all about, isn’t it? Making hay while the sun shines!
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