Rake, Reuse, Recycle
Leaves are a Valuable Natural Resource
Recycling is a key concept in Eugene’s leaf program. Residents are encouraged to reuse and recycle their leaves. Leaves collected by Public Works crews are recycled by delivering them to residents, community gardens, and community groups such as Food for Lane County. Clean leaves are important. Leaves that have debris and leaf piles that are contaminated (including lots of pine needles) are undeliverable and recycled as compost material.
Four Things You Can Do With Leaves
- Use leaves as mulch or compost material
- Deposit leaves in the yard debris container provided by your garbage company
- Share leaves with neighbors and friends
- Take leaves to local yard debris recyclers (like Rexius or Lane Forest Products)
Recycle Leaves at Home
Leaves can be used as mulch or compost material. They offer an economical alternative to costly commercial mulches, fertilizers, soil amendments and herbicides. In fact, leaves are such a valuable natural resource that many residents request that Public Works deliver leaves in the fall as part of the City’s Leaf Collection and Delivery program.
Gardening with Leaves
Spread leaves several inches thick over your garden site will keep out weeds during the winter. Then till them into the garden in the spring before planting. Keep an extra pile of leaves to use as mulch during the summer growing season. You may want to turn this pile once or twice during the winter. In summer, mulch also helps to conserve irrigation water, which can reduce your watering costs.
Using Leaves as Mulch
Use leaves as an alternative to bark or other commercially available mulches in your landscape beds. Typically, leaves will break down faster than coarser materials, but the result is a more fertile soil for your landscape plants. You can stockpile additional leaves to renew your mulch throughout the year. If your leaves are too large or coarse, you might try collecting them with a bagging lawn mower. You may need to adjust the height setting upward to accomplish this. The mower blade will partially shred the leaves, and bagging them aids in handling.
You can even top-dress your lawn with shredded or composted leaves. It is best to do this following core aeration. Special equipment, available from local rental yards, may be required for best results.
For more information about the City’s compost education program, please visit www.eugenerecycles.org. Detailed information on using leaves around the yard and garden is also available by calling the Lane County OSU Extension Master Gardener program at 541-344-0265, or download a factsheet with more information on composting with leaves.
Deposit Leaves in a Yard Debris Container
An easy way to dispose of leaves is to place them in yard debris containers. Yard debris containers are also a way to get rid of branches, pine cones, lawn trimmings and other vegetation that should not be placed in leaf piles. For more information about yard debris containers, contact your local hauler: Lane Apex Disposal Service, Royal Refuse, or Sanipac.
Commercial Recycling is Another Option
If you have more leaves than you or your neighbors can use, drop them off at a commercial recycling site. Commercial resource recyclers accept leaves and other green materials, such as tree limbs and shrub prunings, for a fee. Resource recyclers turn these materials into compost. An advantage to using a commercial recycler is that you do not have to separate leaves from other green material.
Commercial recyclers do not accept leaves or green material contaminated with garbage, metal, rocks, or stumps. Plastic garbage bags are not accepted. A pickup can hold two or three cubic yards of dry, compacted leaves.
Currently, there are two recyclers who accept leaves in the Eugene area: