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Just Leave It On The Lawn

The City of Guelph has updated our Waste Management Bylaw and made a couple of great changes. First, we now have a new front-loader waste collection truck, which means that we can start collecting waste from townhouse condominiums which were not previously receiving municipal waste collection. We have also banned grass clippings from our green bins to extend the life of our organic waste processing plant. This change has caused concern from many community members who are used to collecting their grass clippings and disposing them on their green organics waste bin.

According to our estimates and based on the seasonal variations, the capacity taken up by leaf and yard waste top-up (including grass clippings) is worth about ~9 years’ growth. That means that by not collecting grass clippings, we will get several more years out of our organics processing facility before we need to upgrade it.

Here is a great short video that talks about Grass Cycling:

And here are some answers to Questions you may have about this change:

Did City residents have input with regards to these bylaw changes?

Yes, the City accepted input from residents through a survey conducted from mid-November to mid-December 2018. This survey was conducted online and through a randomized telephone survey. The online survey was hosted on Guelph’s ‘Have Your Say Guelph’ webpage and attracted 1210 responses. The telephone survey reached 407 households.

Given that the telephone survey was the random statistically significant survey, the results show that:

About three-quarters of residents (76%) ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that grass clippings should be banned from the green cart or yard waste; and about 4 in 5 households (79%) ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that allowing residents a year to adapt to this change is enough time.

Why is the City banning the collection of grass clippings in green organic carts and yard waste collection programs?

No longer collecting grass clippings was one of the council endorsed 2014 Solid Waste Management Master Plan recommendations.

The City currently encourages residents to leave grass clippings on the lawn through current City initiatives like that of our recycling programs and the Healthy Landscapes program. Grass will decompose and release organic matter and valuable nutrients into the ground naturally.

Grass clippings consist largely of water, which contributes to the weight and volume of the materials needing processed and when accumulated in large quantities through collection programs, grass clippings are also a potential source of odour at composting facilities.

When will grass clippings no longer be permitted in the green cart and yard waste collection programs?

The change will come in effect April 1, 2020. Throughout the spring and summer of 2019, the City will provide educational information about what to do with grass clippings so residents are prepared.

Have any other municipalities discontinued the collection of grass clippings?

Twenty of Guelph’s comparator municipalities have responsibility for waste collection. Of those, 30 per cent have curbside bans on grass clippings. Additionally, 70 per cent promote grasscycling (leaving clippings on the lawn).

What should residents do with their grass clippings?

The City promotes a simple and easy alternative; leaving clippings on the lawn, also referred to as grasscycling. Information for what to do with grass clippings can be found at  guelph.ca/healthylandscapes. This program includes the opportunity for a site visit to offer information and tips on your grass clippings, entire garden and yard in the months of May to August. Grass can be a great resource, reducing fertilizer and watering needs, in your lawn, flowerbeds, gardens or offering the resource to your neighbours.

The City’s healthy landscapes and lawn care information notes the following about leaving grass clippings on the lawn:

  • Grass clippings are an amazing, free nutrient rich addition for your lawn, and will save time, water, space in your green bin, and money that would otherwise be spent on expensive lawn feed.
  • The practice can reduce fertilizing needs by up to 25 per cent, and helps your lawn hold water so you don’t have to water as often.
  • If grass clippings are collected after mowing, use them for mulching your garden.

The information also debunks some myths about leaving grass clippings on the lawn:

  • Grass clippings break down quickly and don’t cause thatch.
  • Methods to prevent grass clumps include mowing over them again, or using a rake to gently spread them out. Clumping is more common if you mow wet grass, so just make sure your lawn is dry before mowing.
  • Clippings don’t cause disease on your lawn when done properly.  Spread out clumps, or better yet, mow when your grass is dry, and you won’t cause disease or rot from grasscycling on your lawn.
  • Although mulching mowers do the best job, you can grasscycle with any mower. If you don’t have a mulching mower and are worried about the grass clippings being too large, make two passes.

What can Guelph residents do to prevent tracking of grass clippings into the house or other areas?

There are a number of solutions that people can employ to reduce tracking of grass clippings:

In the home:

  • Use a welcome mat at all doors where visitors can wipe their feet before entering.  Grass clippings can be collected on the mat and dumped out without tracking in to other parts of the house.
  • Have a no shoes policy and use a basket or shelf to place all shoes on beside the door. If there is room place a bench by the door where people can sit down and remove their shoes.
  • Sweep sidewalks and front entrances to reduce the debris that could float inside with someone.
  • If grass clippings are collected after mowing, use them for mulching your garden.

For pets:

  • Keep a towel by the door to dry pet paws when they come back inside.
  • Keep a paw washing station (i.e. a bucket with water) just outside the door.
  • Use dog booties when it’s rainy/muddy outside.

For your pool:

  • Use a welcome mat or foot washing station where visitors can clean their feet before entering. 
  • If grass clippings are collected after mowing, use them for mulching your garden.

To reducing glass clippings when mowing:

  • Avoid mowing the lawn when grass is damp or wet.
  • Cut often during growth such that the clips are small and disappear into the lawn.

Q: Will residents still be able to take grass clippings to the City’s Waste Resource Innovation Centre on Dunlop Dr.

A: Yes. Yard waste including grass clippings may be dropped off at no charge to Guelph residents.

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