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Yard waste is plant material that comes from lawn maintenance and other gardening and landscaping activities. This includes grass clippings, leaves, prunings, brush, garden wastes, Christmas trees, and tree limbs up to four inches in diameter. Yard waste was banned for disposal from all Delaware landfills as of 2007.
Due to the statewide ban, yard waste should not go into trash containers. In addition to taking up valuable landfill space, yard waste will break down and cause gas to be produced. While Delaware’s landfills capture the gas produced on-site, it is constantly being made by the material that is buried at these sites.
However, yard waste has a lot of value as mulch or compost. Grinding your brush and branches to add to your yard helps the soil to retain water. Another management strategy for yard waste is to compost this material. Composting is “Mother Nature’s” recycling and turns plant material into a free, non-chemical fertilizer (compost) that makes your lawn and garden healthy.
Learn more in our What to Do With Yard Waste in Delaware brochure.
The easiest way to reduce the plant material from your yard is to “cut it and leave it.” Many lawn mowers available today can be outfitted with a mulching blade. These blades cut grass and leaves into very small pieces which break down quickly, adding nutrients to the soil. By doing this, less chemical fertilizer is necessary to have a nice lawn. And the mower bag doesn’t need to be emptied.
Some hints: If grass is long (i.e. the first cut of the season), adjust the blade and consider doing two “runs” of the lawn. If the grass is too long, clumps will come out of the mower on to your lawn, which is called thatch. This material will eventually dry and break down, but to avoid it, just cut smaller amounts of grass and they will mulch nicely.
Pick up branches as they don’t really mulch too well and may damage the mower.
Do you live in a community where many people do yard work? Consider engaging your neighbors and consider renting a chipper from your local home improvement center, since mulch tends to be purchased every year for landscaping. Different size chippers are available to handle the various kinds of yard waste. Move the chipper from yard to yard to process material into mulch right in your own yard. Note: If you have stumps you might need different equipment.
It’s worthwhile to check if your hauler provides collection service for yard waste. Many of Delaware’s hauling companies offer seasonal yard waste collection options. In most cases, they also offer bulk pickup services which would be used to get rid of large quantities of material. Note: This service tends to need to be scheduled and may cost an additional fee.
Whether or not you have curbside collection, Delaware residents still have options to drop-off yard waste.