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September 2010
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Putting Yard Waste to Work

TMACOG’s Stormwater Coalition regularly publishes information to help individuals take action to protect water quality.

Grass clippings, tree branches and other yard debris can be put to good work. Don’t dispose of it – re-use it as fertilizer, compost, or mulch. Yard waste is the organic matter that is left over from mowing lawns, pulling weeds, raking leaves, and other landscaping activities. It can be used to improve your yard, but if it is improperly managed, organic matter can enter our streams where it has a negative effect on water and habitat quality.

Options for Dealing with Yard Waste

  • Grasscycle: Grasscycling is the simplest way to deal with grass clippings. To recycle grass, only mow one-third of the length of the grass and leave the grass clippings on the lawn. Grasscycling has several benefits including reducing lawn management time because there is no more bagging, providing nutrients from the clippings, reducing stress on the grass, which keeps it healthier, and keeping grass clippings out of the storm drains.
  • Composting: Turn your yard waste (clippings, leaves, and garden debris) into compost that will be a great soil additive. Mix compost into clay soils to allow water to seep through and the soil will retain moisture and nutrients better. This provides a benefit to your plants and helps reduce stormwater runoff.
  • Mulching: Leaves, tree bark, and wood chips from downed tree limbs make excellent mulch. Mulch is a stormwater-friendly way to prevent weeds and reduce soil erosion when applied properly. Mulch should be layered no more than 2-3 inches tall to prevent it from washing away during heavy rains.
  • Disposal: If you can’t find a use for your yard waste, bagging it and taking it to a mulching or composting facility is the best option. Rather than the waste going to a landfill, it is reused. However, if no yard waste facility is available and yard waste must be disposed of, sending to the landfill is the next best option.

What not to do:

    • Never dispose of yard waste into a storm drain.
    • Do not hose or sweep grass clippings into the street or sidewalk.
    • Do not overwater lawns. Watering too frequently can send nutrients and sediment into storm drains. Most lawns need very little water (about an inch a week) to stay healthy.
    • Do not rake leaves into the street during the fall unless your jurisdiction request that you do so for municipal pickup.

Where to recycle/dispose:


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