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Old 06-18-2019, 04:48 PM   #1
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Drying out grass clippings in barrels


My town collects yard waste just once a month. And they have no place you can bring your own waste. So I have a bunch of barrels I dump my clippings into. These barrels stay in my shed, so they never get rained on, and they get "kiln dried" on sunny days. But that seems to have little effect. Even when they're in there for a few weeks, they still remain very moist and in turn, very heavy.

So the obvious thought was, well maybe I should drill a bunch of holes scattered around the sides of the barrel. Small ones so little if any grass will fall out. (3/8" maybe). None near the bottom so none of the potent grass juice will leak out. But before I ruin two barrels by turning them into Swiss cheese, will this even work? It seems like part of what happens is that the grass itself creates sort of a "vapor barrier" so only the very top of it will dry out. If I drilled all around the barrel, perhaps i'd only be drying the immediate vicinity of each hole and not really doing much at all to really dry out the clippings?

Another similar thought I had was to get some 1" PVC, drill a bunch of swiss cheese holes in that, and stick it in the middle of the barrel as i'm dumping the clipping in. So waster from the middle could vent out. I should be able to easily slide those right out when it's time to put the barrels on the curb.

Overthinking? Not really. Whatever system I come up with, if it works, i'll be using for the next 20-40 years :D.

And there is no place on my property i can dump the clippings. This is the suburbs. In the summer when its dry and theres minimal growth, I'll often mulch instead of bag. But with the rain we've been getting lately, you have to bag it. No mulcher can mulch this much wet grass!
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Old 06-18-2019, 05:00 PM   #2
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Re: Drying out grass clippings in barrels


hmm I suspect that you are correct when it comes to holes drilled in the barrel. I think your center pipe would be a bit more effective, but it'd suffer a similar problem...

Perhaps you should look into composting bin construction as a solution? Perhaps something along these lines https://www.homedepot.com/p/Lifetime...0028/202963958 A frame for the barrel so you can rotate it?
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Old 06-18-2019, 06:01 PM   #3
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Re: Drying out grass clippings in barrels


It won't dry out within the month unless you turn the clippings, it's actively composting. I suspect your shed, filled with a few barrels full, would be as hot as a sauna and pretty dank smelling.
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Old 06-18-2019, 06:02 PM   #4
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Re: Drying out grass clippings in barrels


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Originally Posted by 3onthetree View Post
It won't dry out within the month unless you turn the clippings, it's actively composting. I suspect your shed, filled with a few barrels full, would be as hot as a sauna and pretty dank smelling.
It doesn't smell great but I don't hang out in there so it's fine.
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Old 06-18-2019, 06:28 PM   #5
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Re: Drying out grass clippings in barrels


Have you considered mowing with a mulching blade?
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Old 06-18-2019, 06:51 PM   #6
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Re: Drying out grass clippings in barrels


The real answer is to quit bagging your clippings and mulch them instead - your lawn will thank you as well.
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Old 06-18-2019, 06:55 PM   #7
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Re: Drying out grass clippings in barrels


You are putting wet heavy grass in a barrel which naturally compresses over time cutting off air circulation. The bottom line is the grass will not dry out in the barrel even with holes in it.

When my lawn gets a little high, I have to bag the clippings. If I cut and bag at the same time, the wet grass often clogs the chute and makes the lawn bags so heavy that I cannot fill them to capacity thereby having to use more bags.

So I developed a system.

I cut the grass without the bagger attached and let it sit while I do all the edging and trimming.

By the time I am finished the grass has dried in the sun. I then connect the bagger, set the mower blade to the same height I used to cut the grass and it is now effectively a vacuum as I drive over the now dry grass. I no longer have chute clogs and can fill the lawn bags to capacity.

Perhaps cutting your lawn in this fashion will provide you with the dry grass you desire.
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Old 06-18-2019, 07:52 PM   #8
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Re: Drying out grass clippings in barrels


Some information on thatch:
https://extension.illinois.edu/lawnt...home_lawns.cfm
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Old 06-18-2019, 08:10 PM   #9
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Re: Drying out grass clippings in barrels


+1 on the composting bin, and keep it outside where the air and sun can get to it.


Actually even plain old garbage bags might be easier to deal with rather than filling a barrel that is going to get too heavy to lift. Fill the garbage bags with a manageable amount of weight and then toss the bag in the barrel if you want.
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Old 06-18-2019, 08:57 PM   #10
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Re: Drying out grass clippings in barrels


Quote:
Originally Posted by l008com View Post
My town collects yard waste just once a month. And they have no place you can bring your own waste. So I have a bunch of barrels I dump my clippings into. These barrels stay in my shed, so they never get rained on, and they get "kiln dried" on sunny days. But that seems to have little effect. Even when they're in there for a few weeks, they still remain very moist and in turn, very heavy.

So the obvious thought was, well maybe I should drill a bunch of holes scattered around the sides of the barrel. Small ones so little if any grass will fall out. (3/8" maybe). None near the bottom so none of the potent grass juice will leak out. But before I ruin two barrels by turning them into Swiss cheese, will this even work? It seems like part of what happens is that the grass itself creates sort of a "vapor barrier" so only the very top of it will dry out. If I drilled all around the barrel, perhaps i'd only be drying the immediate vicinity of each hole and not really doing much at all to really dry out the clippings?

Another similar thought I had was to get some 1" PVC, drill a bunch of swiss cheese holes in that, and stick it in the middle of the barrel as i'm dumping the clipping in. So waster from the middle could vent out. I should be able to easily slide those right out when it's time to put the barrels on the curb.

Overthinking? Not really. Whatever system I come up with, if it works, i'll be using for the next 20-40 years :D.

And there is no place on my property i can dump the clippings. This is the suburbs. In the summer when its dry and theres minimal growth, I'll often mulch instead of bag. But with the rain we've been getting lately, you have to bag it. No mulcher can mulch this much wet grass!
Forgive if I didn't catch it . . .

What are you planning to do with the clippings?
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Old 06-18-2019, 09:12 PM   #11
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Re: Drying out grass clippings in barrels


I make a so called living mowing lawns.
In 10 plus years I've never once collected the clipping, and that includes getting stuck having to deal with lawns sometimes well over 12" tall.
Simple ansewer, mow it more often, do not mow it when wet.
A lawn will do far better if you mow it at 4" tall then cutting it to short.
The taller grass drowns out the weeds.
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Old 06-19-2019, 09:04 AM   #12
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Re: Drying out grass clippings in barrels


Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
I make a so called living mowing lawns.
In 10 plus years I've never once collected the clipping, and that includes getting stuck having to deal with lawns sometimes well over 12" tall.
Simple ansewer, mow it more often, do not mow it when wet.
A lawn will do far better if you mow it at 4" tall then cutting it to short.
The taller grass drowns out the weeds.
Easier said than done. It rains every other day this spring, my lawn is literally always wet and tall. And I don't have time to mow it more often.
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Old 06-19-2019, 09:05 AM   #13
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Re: Drying out grass clippings in barrels


Quote:
Originally Posted by DoomsDave View Post
Forgive if I didn't catch it . . .

What are you planning to do with the clippings?
See sentence #1. Town collects yard waste once a month. I'd like it to dry out do the barrels aren't super heavy and also so I can fit as much as I need in there.
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Old 06-19-2019, 09:14 AM   #14
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Re: Drying out grass clippings in barrels


Quote:
Originally Posted by l008com View Post
See sentence #1. Town collects yard waste once a month. I'd like it to dry out do the barrels aren't super heavy and also so I can fit as much as I need in there.
Yeah, so you did say. This getting old stuff sucks, though I've heard it beats the alternative . . . .

Given the rain you're getting, it looks like you'll have to just dump, and pray they'll take it. I'd suggest drying it, but that does not sound like an option if you can't leave it in the sun. I know there's things farmers use to dry otherwise too-wet hay, but that seems like an awful lot of trouble for a few grass clippings.

If you can, I'd try to find a way to use it for organic soil improvement, but I know that's not always an option for everyone, either.

Thanks for your specific notation as to your location! Woburn sounds like a place steeped in history. If my experience with Ohio places so steeped is any guide, it might also be a place where tidiness is valued over practicality at times. Hope I'm wrong on that point.

I wouldn't let the clippings accumulate too much, because if you've got an anal-retentive garbage service you'll find yourself up to the neck in trash and no easy way to get rid of it.

If you have a bit of land, you might be able to start a composting area in your "back 40" as it were, which is in itself a very worthwhile thing to do.

Last edited by DoomsDave; 06-19-2019 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 06-19-2019, 09:38 AM   #15
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Re: Drying out grass clippings in barrels


Grass clippings are 85-90% water. Piling/packing them into a barrel is only going to make them compost. They need to be spread out and left on the lawn to dry before collecting.
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