Yard Waste, Grasscycling & Backyard Composting
Yard waste is composed of leaves, grass clippings, garden waste, and brush (such as twigs, prunings, and small branches), and small trees (including Christmas trees and wreaths). Anne Arundel County collects and composts yard waste, thereby keeping a valuable resource from taking up expensive space in a landfill.
Trouble Free Yard Waste Collection Tips
- For leaves, grass, brush and branches, you can use plastic 32-gallon or smaller trash bags or a reusable container of your choice. Do not use yellow recycling containers for yard waste.
- Brush and branches must be bundled. Tie bundles securely with twine.
- Do not use cardboard boxes as this causes a loading problem for the collectors. Cardboard boxes are recyclable and should be put out with paper, plastic, metal and glass.
- All bags and containers must be marked with a large "X" visible to the collectors. This will ensure that they know it is yard waste and not trash.
- Bags, containers or bundles may not weigh more than 40 pounds each. Tree limbs and branches must be less than 4 feet in length, with a maximum branch diameter of 4 inches.
- Bags must be tied. Do not use wire or metal ties.
- Christmas trees must be free from all lights, ornamentation and tree bags. Only natural trees will be collected. Tall trees should be cut in half in order to fit into the collection truck.
- Do not mix trash with yard waste.
- To avoid odors, do not bag your yard waste more than a few days in advance of your collection.
- There is no limit to the amount of yard waste you can put out for collection.
- Yard waste is collected at the curb all year round.
NATURAL Christmas Tree Recycling Tips
- Natural garland, wreaths, and Christmas trees are yard waste. They are chipped into mulch, a valuable soil covering.
- Please remove tree stand, bags, metal ornament hangers, and all decorations. Cut very tall trees in half so that the tree will fit into the contractor's truck.
- Natural garland, wreaths, and Christmas trees will be collected on your collection day.
- Yard waste is collected at the curb on your collection day all year round.
- Put your natural garland, wreaths, and Christmas trees at the curb before 6:00 AM on your collection day or bring your items to any one of our Recycling Centers.
Alternatives to the Yard Waste Program
As a homeowner, you can reduce the amount of yard waste at your home by composting. Composting is a natural process that turns organic matter into a dark, rich, and crumbly substance called humus, an excellent soil supplement. About 29% of residential yard waste can be composted - grass clippings, leaves, brush, and other material from the yard, as well as most food scraps.
Composting has several benefits:
- Prevents useful material from your yard and kitchen from being wasted in a landfill
- Reduces the amount of material being landfilled
- Reduces yard work and the expense of store bought soils and fertilizers
- Enhances the growth of flowers, vegetables, shrubs, and houseplants.
- Replaces nutrients in the soil, improves moisture retention, moderates temperatures, controls weeds, and decreases soil erosion
Compost bins are available at all Waste Management Services recycling centers and the Recycling Division. Click here for facility hours and locations..
Additional information on backyard composting:
Cut it high and let it lie! The Environmental Protection Agency recommends leaving grass clippings on your lawn rather than collecting and bagging them to reduce the amount of waste that is collected and processed. Grasscycling enhances the natural health of your lawn. Grass clippings increase the soil's organic matter, along with its ability to retain moisture and nutrients, resist erosion, and maintain cooler temperatures during the summer. Clippings should be no more than one inch long in order to fall through the grass into the soil.
Other Alternatives to the Yard Waste Program
- Use small branches as kindling.
- Mow high and regularly - spend less time on yard work and eliminate the chore of bagging. Clippings return nutrients to the soil that makes your lawn green and healthy. Grass clippings do not cause thatch.
- Compost flowers and vegetables with leaves and grass clippings. Compost helps keep the soil moist, cuts down on weeds, and helps keep the soil from getting too hot or too cold.
- Cut back on the expense of fertilizers and topsoil by composting at home.
- Select trees, shrubs, and grasses that thrive under local weather and soil conditions or slow-growing plants for less pruning and trimming.
Water is not only a valuable resource, but is also a limited one. Increasing demands strain our water system and ultimately require expanding current resources or finding new sources - often at considerable costs. To help conserve our precious resource while also avoiding high water bills, home owners should consider these conservation tips:
- Check toilets for leaks
- Don't use toilets as a waste container
- Limit showers to time it actually takes to wash and rinse
- Install water saving shower heads or flow restrictors
- Keep a pitcher of cold water in the refrigerator for drinking instead of running the faucet until the water gets cold
- Only water the lawn when it needs it
- Water early in the morning so more water is absorbed into the lawn and less evaporates
- Use a bucket of soapy water when washing cars, and only use the hose for rinsing
- Use compost or mulch in landscaping to retain water
- Use water barrels to water landscapes