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Officials: Don’t bag lawn clippings

As winter turns into spring and grass begins to grow, Ironton residents will undoubtedly be revving up the lawnmowers to keep their yards looking nice.

During this time, city officials are urging people not to put out bags of grass clippings for sanitation workers.

Extra bags of grass clippings cost the city more than $20,000 each year in dumping fees and other expenses , said Bill Dickens, economic development director for the city.

The beginning of spring, when most people mow their grass for the first time that year, is the worst, Dickens said.

“These bags are heavy and they present a problem for sanitation workers,” he said.

Instead of bagging the lawn clippings, officials suggest cutting the grass more often and letting the clippings fall back onto the lawn.

In this way, the smaller clippings degrade rapidly and recycle plant nutrients into the ground.

Another option for residents is to compost their lawn clippings using rabbit wire as a container. A small amount of fertilizer can be used to help break down the clippings. Wood material should be disposed of.

“We ask the citizens to compost the grass clippings,” Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship said. “That goes a long way to help cut down on sanitation costs.”

Residents can also use a mulching lawnmower to turn the clippings into fine flakes that can then be poured back onto the grass.

This approach is especially good for people who treat their lawns because in this way they are reusing the grass that had been treated.

The city had been accepting such debris at the municipal garage twice a week, but Sanitation Director Mike Pemberton said it is trying to avoid that this year.

“We have been accepting it, but in the process of trying to do the right thing with grass clippings we’re trying to put them back into the soil,” he said, adding that everything the garage accepts ends up at the landfill. “It just comes down to educating the public.”

Pemberton said he is not sure if putting clippings in the landfill is against Environmental Protection Agency regulations, but it does take up room.

“The bottom line is what we’re trying to do is save money and do things the green way,” Pemberton said. “If at all possible, let your clippings go back onto your lawn.

“(The city) has a limited budget for sanitation. The more tonnage we haul the higher our transporting costs are. We’re just trying to look ahead to the future, so the sanitation department isn’t running in the red over the next year or two.”