Green Waste Recycling
Golf course superintendents often face environmental questions regarding their management practices. One such question is the disposal of green wastes such as grass clippings, leaves, brush and other vegetative trimmings. Many states have passed laws banning clipping disposal. GCSAA encourages superintendents to recycle green wastes generated on golf courses.

  • Whenever possible, grass clippings are not collected. Clippings allowed to fall to the soil will return nutrients and organic matter. This practice is sometimes limited by the aesthetics and playability demanded on certain areas of the golf course, such as tees and greens. And under the right conditions, clipping return may encourage the spread of turf diseases at certain times of the season. For these reasons, returning clippings to the turf may be limited to roughs and fairways and the time of season. Mowing frequently to keep clippings short is a method of enhancing the appearance of the turf because it encourages rapid clipping degradation on the playing surface.

  • The dropping of leaves in the fall presents challenging management options for their removal. One option is to mulch the leaves with mowers directly on the turf. Similar to grass clippings, leaves provide nutrients and organic matter for the soil. Also similar to clipping return, mulching leaves is limited to fairways and roughs because of playability constraints. Many superintendents blow leaves off fine turf areas into roughs and then proceed with mulching. Mulching mowers can expedite the exercise of grinding the leaves into fine particles.

  • Brush can be shredded for use as landscape mulch. When processed through grinding and shredding equipment, woody brush and trimmings make an excellent landscape mulch for use around plantings and walkways. Mulch conserves soil moisture, prevents weeds and adds valuable organic matter to the soil.

  • Green wastes can be composted on the golf course. If clippings, leaves and brush cannot be directly added back to the course because of operational constraints, they can be composted in a compost pile. Such materials readily degrade to rich organic composts to use as soil amendments when a few key management techniques are used. These include grinding all coarse material, blending green fleshy material with woody materials, frequently turning the pile and providing adequate moisture. Detailed composting information is available from most state agriculture extension agents or universities.
Homeowners are encouraged to leave the clippings on their lawns, to use slow-release fertilizer and to mow every five to six days. Bagging grass clippings only contributes to the landfill problem and shouldn't be necessary if lawns are mowed regularly.

 Greentips are published by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and are designed to help those involved in golf course management keep the golfing public informed about practices on golf courses. The information provided in this publication is advisory only, and is not intended as a substitute for specific manufacturer instructions or proper training in the use, application, storage and handling of the products or processes mentioned. Always read and follow label directions. Use of this information is voluntary and within the control and discretion of the reader.
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