In 2018, 10.5 million tons of yard waste and trimmings got sent to landfills, making up more than 7% of municipal solid waste in landfills.
What is yard waste? Yard waste is made up of plant materials that get created during outdoor maintenance. Tree trimming, grass clippings, garden trimmings, leaves, and plant clippings are all yard waste.
Yard waste recycling is an important part of yard maintenance.
Yard waste doesn’t have to take up room in landfills. Even though it’s a completely natural source, it poses a few environmental hazards.
It gets burned to create an energy source. That increases greenhouse gas emissions. Yard waste sitting in a landfill breaks down and can turn into methane or create acid, which seeps into groundwater.
You want to keep your yard clean, but you also need to take care of yard waste in a responsible manner. Don’t sweat it, because we’ve got your back.
Read on to discover five tips to recycle yard waste and maintain a beautiful yard.
1. Check With Your Municipality
Can you recycle yard waste? The answer varies from city to city. Municipalities set the rules as to what types of materials get recycled.
Some cities have a complete ban on organic materials in landfills. Others encourage organic waste in landfills because they’ll burn it for energy.
Municipalities also vary in how you bag your yard waste. One city might allow you to recycle yard waste using plastic and paper bags.
Drive down the road and you could find a city that only allows yard waste recycling in paper bags.
Cities may have a program in place for recycling yard waste. They may provide a recycling bin for yard waste or have drop-off locations.
If you live in a city where tons of leaves fall in September, October, and November, you might have special days for leaf pickup. That’s when the city comes to pick up bags of leaves left on the curb.
There may even be a Christmas tree pickup in your neighborhood after the holidays.
The Department of Public Works or Recycling Department of your city provides information to residents. Contact them or visit their website for up-to-date yard waste recycling information.
2. Reuse Yard Waste
Yard waste is made of plant materials. Do you have to throw them away? No, there are plenty of creative ways to reuse yard waste.
Do you plan to create raised garden beds? As you’re filling the garden beds with soil, mix in yard waste. Small branches, leaves, and grass clippings will break down and add nutrients to the soil and keep the pH levels balanced.
It’s like adding natural fertilizer to your soil.
The last thing you want to do on a hot day after mowing the lawn is to rake up and clean up grass clippings. The good news is that you don’t have to.
Leave them as is. You’ll be able to create fertilizer for your lawn. Grass clippings also prevent erosion during heavy rains. Your soil stays rich and your grass will love it.
You might wonder what you should do with those large branches from trimming trees on your property. There is something that you can do that doesn’t involve sending them to the landfill or recycling center.
Get a woodchipper out and turn your branches into mulch. It’s easy to rent a woodchipper or have a landscaping company break down the branches into wood chips.
Yes, you’re left with wood chips, but that’s mulch you can add to trees, gardens, and plants around the yard. Mulch is a way to retain water and keep the soil at the perfect temperature for plants to thrive. It looks great, too.
3. Rent a Dumpster
An extensive landscaping project requires a lot more than filling up recycling bins or dropping off yard waste at your recycling center.
Renting a dumpster keeps yard waste contained. They’re roll-off containers, so they get dropped off at your property. You fill it up, they’ll take it away and take care of your yard waste.
This is perfect for projects that involve brush removal, tree removal, post-storm cleanup, or landscape remodeling projects.
There are several types of dumpsters to dispose of yard waste. A 10-yard container is 3.5 feet tall and 10 feet long. This is sufficient for most yard projects.
If you have a large property to clean up, then look to get a 15 or 20-yard dumpster.
Could you hire a service to remove the yard waste and dispose of it? Sure, but you’re going to pay more and you don’t know how the waste gets disposed of.
4. Add Yard Waste to Compost
Americans on average generate 4.4 pounds of food waste daily. Yet only 1.5 pounds get composted.
This is a huge opportunity to contribute to the environment and cut down on waste. You can start a compost pile in your yard. There are compost containers that you can purchase that contain the smell of decomposing food if that’s your big concern.
The benefits of composting are huge. You reduce the need for power to burn through composted waste. Compost creates nutrient-rich soil.
That also reduced the demand for chemical fertilizers. The production and usage of these fertilizers can do a lot of harm to the environment.
Another benefit of composting is that you can add yard waste to the equation. Yard waste helps compost break down and create healthy soil.
It’s an easy way to recycle yard waste and live a greener life.
5. Get Creative With Branches
Yard waste comprised of twigs and sticks presents a creative opportunity. Put them in your garden as trellises, poles, and borders.
You can tie branches together to create an A-frame that’s perfect for beans and peas to grow. Poles hold up tomato, pepper, and eggplant plants.
These plants get heavy, so you’ll want to tie several branches together to uphold the weight of the plants as they produce fruit.
There are endless creative projects you can do with yard waste branches. It takes yard waste recycling to a whole new level.
Yard Maintenance Tips
What does it take to keep a beautiful yard? Regular maintenance. You want to make sure that you have a schedule so you stay in a yard maintenance routine.
This is essential for a couple of reasons. The first is that regular maintenance prevents major issues like weeds from cropping up. You can also spot an issue with a tree before it comes down during a storm.
No one wants to work on yard maintenance every weekend, especially during a busy summer. It doesn’t take that much work, and you can devote a weeknight to yard work. That frees up your weekends so you can enjoy summer.
Pull weeds and mow the lawn once a week. Check your lawn care tools once a month. This ensures you’re always in a good position to get yard work done in the fastest amount of time.
Should you water your lawn? It depends on where you live and the weather conditions. If you do water the lawn, do it in the morning for the best results. Otherwise, the water will evaporate faster during the heat of the day.
More work happens during the change of seasons. You’ll need to trim bushes, grow cover crops in the garden, and clean up leaves. Of course, you now know what to do with those clippings with these yard waste recycling tips.
Yard Maintenance Inspection
It helps to keep a checklist of maintenance tasks. You should also maintain an inspection checklist. This is where you go around the yard and exterior of your property to look for issues.
Start your checklist by looking up. Look at the trees on your property for any weaknesses or vulnerabilities. After that, look at the exterior of your home for missing or damaged roof and siding shingles.
Work your way down to the ground level. Note areas where there may have been pests or other critters for pest control solutions.
Signs of erosion or soil loss are important around the foundation of your property or if your property is on a hillside. These are small details that can make a huge difference in the safety of your property.
You can do this every quarter and after a big storm hits your area.
Yard Waste Recycling and Maintenance Tips
Yard waste recycling seems to get overlooked because you don’t realize what can happen to yard waste in a landfill. You could cause more harm than good!
With these tips to recycle yard waste, you have creative ways to use yard waste and protect the environment at the same time.
Now that you know the top ways to keep your yard pristine, check out the Lifestyle section of this site for more home and lifestyle tips.