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Leaf and Yard Waste Reduction

Yard trimmings, food scraps and other organics make up about 34% of municipal waste landfilled in Pennsylvania. The percentage can vary considerably in different communities due to varying yard sizes and horticultural practices. Whenever you can manage this material in your own yard compared to having it collected for municipal composting, there are environmental and economic benefits by reducing the cost of collection and transportation. Additionally, the organic material can be used on-site to enrich lawns and gardens.


One of the easiest ways to reduce yard waste is by recycling grass clippings directly back into the lawn. A mulching mower can be beneficial, but any mower will work as long as you mow regularly and at a proper height. Be sure the grass clippings disappear into the turf so as not to smother the grass. Avoid excessive applications of fertilizer, as the grass clippings return nitrogen to the soil. Small quantities of extra grass clippings can be mixed into a compost pile or used as a thin mulch layer.


Organic materials will compost by themselves, but a little care and attention will make the process neater and quicker. You can buy a compost bin, make your own, or do it in an open pile. Just mix brown and green organic materials, keep it moist and aerated, and mix it up occasionally. A well-tended pile made of chopped materials can be finished in 2 to 4 weeks, while brown leaves left on their own may take a year. The resulting compost provides valuable organic material and fertilizer when used as a mulch or soil amendment.