Cities Offer Solutions for Yard Debris Disposal

By Vickie Frantz, Staff Writer
10/6/2012 2:01:43 PM

The weather is turning colder and the branches from the summer storms are still littering yards. If that's not bad enough, the leaves are falling and adding to the work it will take to clear yards of all debris.

This picture is courtesy of

Before you grab the rake and head out, you may want to consider what to do with all the leaves and branches. There are some green options available.

Curbside leaf vacuuming is one option available in many states. Companies will come to your home and vacuum leaves that you pile close to the curb for a fee. Some counties or towns will provide the service free of charge.

To prepare the leaves for the vacuuming equipment, Varsity Landscaping and Grounds of Roanoke, Va., offers these five tips:

1. Call at least one day prior to piling your leaves at the curb. It is easier to vacuum leaves that have not settled.

2. Do not pile the leaves in a ditch or on a curb with running or standing water. It will increase the vacuuming time and cost.

3. Debris, like rocks and sticks, can not pass through the vacuum. Remove them.

4. Make the piles of leaves tall rather than long. The less the truck has to move the more money you can save.

5. Pile the leaves where the trucks can easily reach them. Never pile them under branches or power lines.

After the leaves are vacuumed up, Varsity Landscaping and Grounds employees recycle them. The leaves are emptied from the machine and mix it into soil. The leaves then decompose into the soil. The soil can then be added to gardens or flower beds.

Another option that can take care of the leaves and the broken branches is composting.


Rake your leaves into a pile. Shred the leaves and add them to a compost bin.

Add an additional source of nitrogen (such as manure) to help break the leaves down faster.

The compost can be saved and used in the spring or late fall to fertilize your lawn or in your flower beds.


Damaging wind and heavy rain may have left a lot of broken tree branches in our yards. These branches can also make good composting material.

If you have a chipper, process the tree branches through it. The smaller pieces of wood will break down faster. No chipper? Carefully chop the branches into smaller pieces with an axe. Wear gloves and break the smaller twigs down by hand, according to

As you add the wood chips to the compost pile, mix in leaves and newspapers if you have them.

Alternate the wood with layers of grass clippings, manure and even kitchen scraps to make the ideal composting environment for quick break-down.

The rich compost will make the perfect fertilizer for your grass and flower beds.

"If you have a bare spot in your lawn you can put some leaves over it, and the next year the soil is very rich with nutrients and is a nice rich black soil add some seed and in a few weeks you have a great lawn with its own starter fertilizer," said AccuWeather Facebook fan Paul Brown.