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Leaves and Grass Clippings

Disposing of leaves and grass clippings is a common outdoor chore, but it’s important to know the dos and don’ts if you live in Huntington.

DO: Mulch your leaves. You might be surprised to know that mulched leaves are a free source of slow-release fertilizer for your lawn. As the small pieces decay, nutrients and organic matter are returned to the soil, benefiting the overall health of your lawn.

DO: Bag your leaves and grass clippings. Knowing that mulching is not an option for every homeowner, it is acceptable to bag your yard waste. The city allows residents to dispose up to four bags of yard waste with your household garbage each week. Those with larger quantities should call the city’s leaf pick-up hotline, 304.696.4484, for assistance. 

DON’T: Blow or sweep grass clippings, leaves and yard waste into the street or onto storm drains. City ordinance 960.02 includes fines of up to $500 per day for blowing leaves and grass clippings into the street. Storm drains also can become clogged with yard waste, putting added pressure on the sewer system and causing flooding when it rains.

DON’T: Rake your leaves into a pile at the curb. The city will only pick them up if they are bagged.

Leaves, grass clippings and yard waste must be contained in the proper container and out on curb awaiting proper disposal and/or pick up. Please contact the leaf pick up hotline at 304.696.4484 for assistance in removal of above mentioned items.

Lose the rake. Cabell County Solid Waste Authority encourages residents to “recycle” their leaves.

Autumn is the time of year anticipated by many in our region; Cooler days, a variety of outdoor activities and festivals, and the lovely fall foliage are but a few of the reasons. But alas, the cool days eventually give way to downright frigid weather, the festivals end and the beautiful foliage makes its way down to your lawn! Without a doubt, for many of us in our region the yearly ritual of raking and disposing of this year’s crop of leaves is not exactly a welcome chore.

Many who endure the routine simply rake them into a pile and with careful fervor, jam them into large bags to be placed on the curb for a trip to the landfill. If more people took a closer look at what they were discarding, they might be surprised to find out that they are tossing out what equates to be a free source of slow release fertilizer.

As everyone remembers from their high school biology class, leaves release organic matter and nutrients into the soil as they decay. Generally speaking, the nutrients are then used by other growing plants. It’s a near perfect recycling system. When you toss the leaves in a bag and send them away, you are in the simplest of terms robbing your lawn of the available nutrients.

Mulching the leaves cuts them into tiny pieces that are less noticeable on the lawn and helps them to break down faster. You don’t even have to rake them into piles! Simply mow them where they land. As they decay nutrients and organic matter are returned to the soil benefiting the overall health of your lawn. Studies at Michigan State, Cornell, Rutgers and Purdue have concluded that mulching tree leaves is an excellent disposal method that does not harm healthy turf and may provide a number of benefits, including increased microbial activity, water infiltration and improved soil structure. Best of all it keeps the leaves out of our landfills.

Is mulching leaves for everyone? Probably not -- every situation is different. A thin stand of grass in a heavily shaded yard would present a limited opportunity. Some homeowners accustomed to the fall ritual of raking and bagging may find the idea of mulching leaves foreign and therefore not readily accept it. However, if the circumstances fit you situation, and you want to leave the rake in the garage this year, do your lawn a favor and recycle the leaves.