Yard Waste & Fall Leaf Collection
2020 Fall Leaf Collection Dates: Fall leaf collection starts November 16, 2020 and continues through December 31, 2020.
2020 Fall Leaf Collection
To protect the health of Public Works employees, their families, and the larger community in the pandemic, the City will not be hiring the usual number of seasonal workers to assist with vacuum leaf collection this year and we anticipate a slower than normal response rate to removing leaf piles at the curb. For this and for environmental reasons, we strongly encourage residents to mulch or compost all or most of the leaves in their yards. Information on the best ways to do this are below
This year’s collection will divide the City into three zones with one leaf collection vehicle per zone. The collection period will be extended from November 16 to December 31. This arrangement is expected to reach every street in a 3 to 4 week period. The length of time that a leaf pile will remain on the curb is likely to increase by an additional week or two. Streets that receive collection on posted days (State Highway routes) will still receive two collections on the scheduled date as usual.
Important guidelines to be followed for leaf collection
- Place leaves into a pile at the edge of the curb.
- Avoid piling leaves where cars are likely to be parked.
- Do not rake leaves into the street. Leaf piles create traffic hazards.
- Do not include branches, brush, vines, rocks or debris. These items damage equipment and delay collection.
- Do not pile leaves near storm drain inlets. Leaves can block the drains and cause flooding problems.
- Do not park your car in front of a leaf pile. Restricting access to leaf piles delays collection.
Public Works has set up a Leaf Collection Hotline, at 301-891-7626. Residents may call the Leaf Collection Hotline and leave a voice message to notify Public Works when leaves have been raked out to the curb, however, the City will not be able to provide collection as quickly as previously provided.
Environmentally beneficial alternatives for managing fall leaves
There is significant environmental benefit to keeping leaves and their nutrients on the yard and gardens. Leaf litter, particularly when mulched or shred into smaller bits, helps improve soil quality and water retention by providing food for beneficial microorganisms, which in turn improves tree and plant health. Mulch also suppresses weeds. Fallen leaves provide habitat for wildlife that nourish our urban ecosystem, creating hiding and hunting places for toads, birds, salamanders and beneficial insects. Trees in particular benefit from having a ring of mulch around them extending as far out as the tree’s branches.
Less reliance on the city’s vacuum collection program in the future could reduce the City’s carbon footprint associated with the leaf collection program and its use of diesel and gasoline powered equipment.
- Allow leaves to gather under trees, bushes, and other planted areas to decompose over time. Mulch rings can be made from piling leaves under the tree, or shredding the leaves with a mower and raking them in place. A depth of 3 to 6 inches is ideal for mulching around trees, while leaving a space of several inches between the mulch pile and the tree trunk to avoid trapping water that could cause rot. A depth of 2 to 3 inches of mulched leaves is recommended for flower beds.
- Rake leaves into piles in an area of the property where they can compost in place to be used in the future around the yard. Leaves can be mixed with grass and other organic matter like food waste in a compost bin.
- Leaves can be shredded by running over them with a lawnmower and left in place. Some mowers have a special mulching blade for this purpose. See instructions at right.
- Residents using a lawn care service can request that they shred the leaves and leave in place or identify locations for large piles to decompose over time, rather than raking them to the curb or removing them entirely.
Holiday Collection Schedule Changes
Yard waste is not collected in weeks where the Monday is an observed holiday. See the calendar.
About Yard Waste
The Public Works Department collects yard waste from all single-family homes and most small apartment buildings within the City of Takoma Park year-round. Yard waste collection is a curbside collection service and is offered once a week on Mondays.
Important Yard Waste Collection Information
- Yard waste collection is canceled when a holiday is observed on a Monday. The Holiday Collection Schedule page details how the schedule is set and when collection dates are changed due to a holiday.
- Grass, leaves, branches and brush are collected all year long.
- Branches must be less than four feet long and less than three inches in diameter and tied into small bundles or stacked in a trash can.
- Leaves and loose yard materials need to be in paper bags, trash cans or stiff-sided containers.
- Plastic bags cannot be used for yard waste collection. Yard waste in Takoma Park is composted; the plastic interferes with the composting process.
- Christmas trees are collected with yard waste. Place Christmas trees on the curbside with other yard waste. All tinsel, ornaments and stands must be removed.
Mow, mow mow your leaves
- If your mower has a bag or chute for a discharge outlet, close it up to enable the leaves to get chopped up more finely.
- To reduce carbon emissions its best to use an electric or battery powered mower.
- A light covering of leaves can be mowed by simply using the lawn mower. This technique is most effective with a mulching mower and when the leaf drop is light or you can do it frequently.
- You may want to use a bagging attachment to chop your leaves.
- Rake out several inches of leaves into a layer and run them over with the mower.
- You can then use the bagger to carry the mulched leaves to garden beds, around trees or other areas of the yard where you can store to enable it to decompose further.
If you have a heavier layer of leaves you can follow these steps
- run the mower over leaves several times few times to chop them into small pieces.
- Lightly rake the chopped leaves into a small pile and then mow that pile a few more times.
- These shredded leaf pieces can then be raked around the lawn or distributed by blowing them with the mower (reopen open the discharge chute).
- You don’t want the leaf bits to smother the grass. Raking them after they are chopped will help the grass blades stand up and the leaf pieces fall to the soil.
- If you have a large quantity of leaves, you may want to consider mowing just 25 or 50% of them at a time.
Got a Question?
Please direct your questions and concerns related to holiday collection schedule changes to Public Works:
Curbside Collection Services Sections
Plastic Bags No Longer Accepted Curbside
As of July 1, 2015 plastic film and plastic bags can no longer accepted in the City's collection curbside recycling program.Curbside Recycling Details
Food Waste Collection
Our curbside food waste collection program is so easy a chihuahua can do it!
(...and you get free compost!)Sign me up!