Leave the grass and compost, experts advise Edmonton lawn buffs
'It’s rich, organic matter that will provide good nutrients for your yard'
Fans of pristine lawns may have a tough time adjusting to the city's new waste management rules in the coming six months.
The city plans to scale back and possibly ban pickup for grass clippings and leaves from curbs around Edmonton.
The utility committee gave its initial nod to the plan on Friday, with a final strategy due in June.
Coun. Michael Walters said he has had a few calls and emails since then from residents who want to know what to do come summer.
"It's on us to work with citizens to design programs that they're going to be able to use," Walters said Monday. "I have a lot of leaves, and I personally compost most of those."
The waste services and operations branches plan to alter the pick-up schedules by September and are exploring options.
One is a seasonally scheduled pick up. Residents can also take their bags to an eco centre or designated waste yard.
Experts told CBC News that homeowners have plenty of tools besides plastic bags to deal with grass and leaves.
Perry Stothart, general manager at Classic Landscapes, said the main one is to leave cut grass on the ground.
The nitrogen and other valuable nutrients stay on the grass.
Be sure to cut the grass at a "healthy" length of 2 ½ to 3 inches, he said, and leave the grass clippings on top.
"They're going to break down," he said. "It's actually healthier for the lawn."
Reasons people bag
Stothart thinks esthetics and tradition are behind the bag habit. He said science supports the idea of returning nitrogen to the lawn.
"If we can overcome those things and you can see that your lawn will be healthy and dark green and lush, and, you know, healthy root systems, I think people will get on board."
Jim Hole, horticulturalist and operator of Hole's Greenhouses, agrees it's one of the best ways to treat lawns.
"It's rich, organic matter that will provide good nutrients for your yard."
He recommends cutting lawns when the grass is fairly short, because long clippings take longer to decompose.
Hole agrees with the city's move to cut back on bagged grass and leaves. He said there's only so much room at the city's composting facility.
"That's kind of a wasteful way of dealing with these clippings."
Hole also suggested homeowners ask themselves how much grass they actually need.
"Maybe everybody takes off 10 to 20 per cent," he suggested.
He said he has reduced his lawn and added shrubs and ornamental plants.
'Nobody sees them'
"I've got a bunch of cedars in my yard that have the branches already down the ground level," Hole said. "I'll take the clippings and shove them under the cedars, they decompose beautifully there, nobody sees them."
He said the rich material is healthy for the trees.
"For a small segment of Edmontonians that really value the service, while fees have gone up continually for garbage and waste services, I think it's important that we continue to provide that same level of service," he argued.
"Right now, I don't think it's the time to tell people that they can't continue with a behaviour that they've been doing for a long time, such as throwing out grass clippings."
Coun. Aaron Paquette said he doesn't bag his clippings either.
"It's easier not to," he said. "It also saves on plastic bags and waste management resources and my lawn seems to do better."
Waste services and operations branches are expected to present detailed changes to the city's waste management by June.