The first and most important thing to remember about leaves is:
Never, ever, rake your leaves into drainage ditches or curblines.
Why? Most residents of the County live within a watershed. Therefore, it is most likely that whatever enters the storm drain or ditch near your property runs directly into the closest tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. In autumn, large amounts of leaves become a source of water pollution. Once they reach the waterway, the leaves release nutrients that contribute to the accelerated growth of algae which can be detrimental to fish and other aquatic life.
Why? Leaves can build up along curbs, gutters, and ditches and block stormwater so that flooding occurs. The resulting standing water may attract insects such as mosquitoes that carry diseases like West Nile Virus.
Why? Should a major weather event occur, blocked curblines and ditches can lead to flooding of roadways and can also result in personal property damage including flooding of your home.
Why? Protecting our environment, including our recreational waterways, as well as keeping our neighborhoods clean and safe, is a powerful incentive to most folks. If you keep leaves and debris out of your storm drains, gutters, and ditches, you can help keep our waterways clean and healthy and provide a better environment for native plants and animals. The result will be cleaner, safer, more enjoyable communities and recreational areas.
Why? The County already has a recycling program in place for the curbside collection of yard waste, including leaves. It is therefore more efficient and cost effective to utilize this Bureau of Waste Management Services program than to divert Bureau of Highways resources from other priority work to clean ditches, curblines, and storm drains
Join Your Neighbors and Recycle More Often!
Place bagged leaves or containers of leaves at the curb by 6 a.m. on your regular recycling day. Yard waste, including leaves, is collected year round.
- For leaves, grass, brush and branches, you can use biodegradable paper yard waste bags or a reusable container made of metal or rigid plastic, equipped with handles, and marked with an “X” on all sides. Paper yard waste bags are available for purchase in many big-box, home improvement and hardware stores as well as through online retailers.
- Do not place yard waste in reusable fabric bags, plastic bags or County issued 35, 65, or 95-gallon yellow carts.
- Brush and branches must be placed in a container or bundled. Bundles must be tied securely with twine.
- For more information, visit Waste Management Services' Curbside Collection webpage
Environmentally Friendly Alternatives for Disposal
- Start a compost pile or add leaves to an existing one. Composting is nature’s way of recycling leaves, grass clippings, and other organic materials and converting them into a valuable soil enricher that can be utilized in flower and vegetable gardens. Visit our Waste Management Services page to learn more about composting
. If you prefer, you can call Waste Management Services at (410) 222-6100.
Mulch - By using a mulching mower, you can chop the leaves into small pieces which will decompose directly on your lawn. If the mower has a bagger, you can collect the leaf pieces and spread them around flower beds and shrubs as mulch.
Till - Decomposing leaves provide a naturally produced organic material which is healthy to lawns and gardens. To reap the benefits of this natural recycling process, till leaves directly into a garden.
Leaf Removal/Recycling (Leaves on County-Maintained Roads or Ditches)
If leaves have accumulated on County-owned roadways or ditches and are causing a hazard or blocking the flow of water, please call or go online to report the issue. A supervisor will investigate your request within one week. If a hazard exists, the request will be investigated the same day.
Appropriate corrective action will be taken immediately to eliminate any hazard. If no hazard exists but work is necessary, you will be notified of the schedule for this work. Once the work has been completed, you will again be contacted.