How to Get Grass Clippings Out of Mulch [6 TIPS]

Wondering how to keep grass clippings out of mulch? Grass and other weeds may grow within mulch if it is untreated, however, there are many treatments available that may permanently prevent grass from growing in them. This includes physical solutions which revolve around creating effective barriers and chemical solutions which involve the use of different herbicides used carefully around the purposefully grown plants.

Mulch is usually defined as any material that is spread over the soil as a covering. It can be used for all kinds of uses, including keeping the soil cool from the sun, suppressing annoying weed growth, keeping moisture in, and just looking pretty.

Whatever you use mulch for, grass clippings in it are unsightly and irritating, so how do you keep it out?

Fortunately, a couple of methods can be used to keep your mulch grass-free, varying between temporary to permanent solutions, and some of them can be done with some simple ingredients you probably have in your own kitchen. Others just need a few garden tools and some elbow grease. Down below are some of the most effective we have found.

grass clippings being used as mulch

Related Reading: Can Pressure Washing with Bleach Kill Your Grass?

1. Cut Gaps Between The Grass And The Mulch

Well, let’s be honest – grass does not appear out of “thin air”. There’s a good chance that one of the reasons that grass keeps ending up in your mulch is because it keeps creeping from your lawn. Many people have this problem because the gap between the grass and the mulch isn’t big enough which lets the grass jump over.

So, the first solution is permanent but time-consuming; dig gaps between the lawn and the mulch bed large enough so grassroots aren’t able to dig their way in. This can be a border or an edge, or a pathway, depending on the shape of your garden. Just remember: if your garden is curved, then keep the border consistent.

2. Use a String Trimmer

This little piece of equipment will be able to easily cut any unwanted weed that you want and will be able to easily use one of these to reach under the purposefully planted ones to slice away the weeds you don’t want. However, this is both a temporary and potentially expensive solution, so it depends on how bad your problem is and how much effort you are planning on spending on it.

3. Using Landscaping Fabric

This is a very permanent solution, but generally straightforward and ‘set it and forget it. The way it works is that you cover the soil with landscaping fabric, and then cover it with mulch. No grass will be able to grow through the landscaping fabric and won’t be able to take root in the mulch, so the fabric will act as a barrier. It also blocks sun rays from going into the soil which helps as well.

This fabric is very common and most plant stores will stock this fabric once the fabric is in place, it’s a long-term solution. It is a lot of effort, but once it’s done, it’ll prevent having to deal with errant weeds every couple of months.

4. Use Newspaper

This solution is very similar to the landscaping fabric in the sense that it creates a barrier so the grass isn’t able to grow. However, as you may have figured out, burying it over the soil and under the mulch will only end up with very soggy paper under the mulch.

Instead, put newspaper over the top of the mulch, covering it and keeping the sun from getting to the mulch. Without the sun, the grass won’t be able to grow.

This solution is a more temporary version of the landscaping ones, recommended to be done during the summer when the sun is brighter and there’s less rain, and not so much in the winter when the sun is weaker and the rain more frequent.

5. Use A Commercial Chemical Herbicide

So, maybe the physical solutions aren’t working for you. Maybe you don’t want to spend a couple of hours digging a groove between your mulch and your lawn or covering the soil with fabric to bury it in mulch again. That’s no problem – chemistry has a few solutions which can help as well.

Naturally, commercial herbicides will be able to get rid of your grass, as well as any other unwanted weed. Glyphosate is a particularly effective one, being able to kill a wide variety of plants, from woody plants to broadleaf plants and grasses.

However, as you may have figured out, glyphosate’s effectiveness is a double-edged sword; you are going to have to be careful in the application as the herbicide will kill the plant you intended to grow as well as the grasses. Put into a spray bottle and be sure to aim carefully.

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6. Use A Vinegar Soap Solution

If you want to use something a little bit less harsh (or don’t want to pay the prices!), then vinegar is a safe and natural ingredient that many people already have in their homes.

The way to use it is to mix vinegar with dish soap and put it into a common spray bottle. And that’s it! You’re good to go! Spray the combination whenever you see a cheeky piece of grass trying to grow in your mulch. It’s very effective because vinegar lowers the soil pH level which the plants can’t effectively grow in.

Related Reading: Is Pool Water Safe on Grass?


So, no one likes to spend so much time layering and tending a mulch garden only to see it fill up with grass after a few months, but luckily, there are both physical and chemical solutions to this problem of which you can choose your preference.

On the physical side, you can dig a large gap between the mulch and the grass to prevent roots, or lay down a physical barrier over or under the mulch to prevent extra plants from going. On the chemical side, there is an entire spectrum of chemicals available, from glyphosate on the harshest side of the spectrum to vinegar and soap on the softer end of the spectrum – both as effective as each other.