How to Dispose of Yard Waste in an Eco-Friendly Way

Yard waste does not belong to the trash, unlike other household waste that you can toss in the trash can and will finally land in incinerators or landfills. Instead, it should return to the soil and help propagate the natural life cycle by supplying nutrients.

Yard waste comprises of organic materials generated during garden or yard maintenance and plant attrition. For instance, yard trees might shed leaves, with their branches falling during storms or strong winds. Then the time comes for cleaning the mess. Thereby, yard waste will always be a mixture of fallen leaves, grass clippings, tree trimmings, weeds, branches, or other remnants from the garden.

Well, you might think –why not toss the yard waste in the ordinary can and get over it? Well, the nature of yard waste does not allow it.Learn how to dispose of yard waste appropriately below.

Why Not Dispose of Yard Waste in the Dumpster

Similar to kitchen waste and food scrap, you cannot throw yard waste in the trash. Both are organic waste that does not belong in an incinerator or landfill. When disposed of in a landfill, yard waste decomposes partially, releasing methane (a potent greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere. The waste from your yard would exacerbate current global warming and climate change.

Although some landfills might trap the released gasses for energy production, there are better eco-friendly ways to get rid of yard waste than sending it to the landfill.

Eco Friendly Ways for Getting Rid of Yard Waste

As a homeowner, you can help make the earth a better place, even for future generations, by adopting environmentally friendly options for disposing of yard waste.

Here are the eco-friendly alternatives to consider:

1. Convert the yard waste into mulch

From fallen leaves to brush, you can repurpose any type of yard waste into mulch for your garden. If you can’t hire a tree removal service to help, chip the yard waste yourself using a wood chipper. While owning a wood chipper offers you convenience when turning yard waste into mulch, consider borrowing the chipper from a neighbor if you do not have one.

Mulch has numerous benefits to the environment. Besides enhancing the aesthetics of your garden, it covers bare ground to prevent erosion and improve soil biodiversity. Again, using homemade mulch for landscaping saves you money, especially when delivery costs are high.

2. Leave the grass clippings in the yard

Instead of spending time and energy to remove grass clippings from the lawn after mowing, leave these organic materials to dry and decompose in the yard. The clippings protect the soil by preventing moisture evaporation, and when decomposed, they release valuable nutrients back into the ground. If you want small-sized clippings for an even spread, you can mow over them a second time.

When you leave the grass clippings on the lawn, the need to transport such waste to the landfill is eliminated, reducing your carbon footprint.

3. Create raised beds using the yard waste

Farmers know that melon, squash, and pumpkin require raised kitchen beds to grow well. Instead of making the mounds from soil alone, use yard waste, including branches, leaves, and brush, to fill the bottom of the beds and top them off with soil.

With time, the waste will decompose and release nutrients needed by the plants into the soil. Again, these bulky materials help raise the beds while minimizing the amount of soil and compost required to build, reducing the cost of creating raised garden beds.

4. Compost the waste

When added to a compost pile, branches and stems require a longer time to break down. Therefore, those who intend to mature their compost hip in a few months or less are often hesitant to add such yard waste to their piles.

That said, you can use yard waste and other upcycled materials to prepare a low-maintenance compost that requires at least a year to mature. Unless you need the heap to decompose faster, you don’t need to turn the compost made of yard waste.

5. Use the municipal collection site

If your city or town has a collection site for yard waste, save the environment by dropping yours at the municipal center. Don’t mix the yard waste with other trash, including food scraps, as most sites accept yard waste only, as other organic trash might attract rodents.

You can collect yard waste and drop them off a few times a year to reduce costs. Just remember to use the appropriate bags when collecting the waste to prevent contamination. Non-degradable bags like plastics are not allowed.

6. Burn the waste

While it might not sound eco-friendly, as it releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, burning yard waste is better than tossing it in the trash. First, burning the waste at home prevents emissions related to transporting the materials to the landfill. The ash from burning yard waste can also be added to the compost, provided all the materials are degradable.

Typically, ash is alkaline and helps to restore the pH balance if the compost is acidic. Adding ash to an alkaline or neutral compost might cause more problems. So be cautious.

Burning yard waste requires extra caution. For instance, you must follow municipal guidelines for starting and containing a fire in your area. This might not be a viable option if you live in an arid area, as the risk of causing wildfires is significant.

7. Donate to a friend or neighbor

When you have excess or can’t use the yard waste, consider donating to a friend or a neighbor. They might use it to mulch their gardens or create raised garden beds if they grow crops like squash. If you can’t find a neighbor in need, Facebook Marketplace or the local Buy Nothing group will offer you a safe way to get rid of yard waste.

Keep Your Yard Debris-Free

Yard maintenance and new yard projects generate a lot of waste. So what do you do when you want to get rid of yard waste and don’t have the time to collect and drop the waste at a collection site? Reach out to a yard waste removal service provider today to help you keep your lawn looking neat and pristine.

Russell Chen

With a rich background in Horticulture from the University of Melbourne, Russell Chen has over 18 years of experience in garden design and management. He has been a key contributor to our site, after serving as a chief horticulturist at a renowned botanical garden in Australia. Russell's articles often reflect his passion for eco-friendly gardening and he has been sharing insights into sustainable gardening practices. In his leisure time, he loves exploring herbal gardening and participating in community greening projects.

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