What Should I Do With All These Leaves? A Guide to Yard Waste, Leaf Burning And More

What Should I Do With All These Leaves? A Guide to Yard Waste, Leaf Burning And More

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We’ve enjoyed the fall colors for the past few weeks, but now all of those leaves are starting to pile up on the ground. Unfortunately, when autumn leaves are blown or swept into storm drains, drainage ditches, or nearby streams they can become a source of water pollution and even lead to localized flooding.

The Kane County Division of Environmental & Water Resources wants to remind residents to manage their leaves properly this fall to reduce potential flooding and water quality impairments.

But, what are you really supposed to do with all of those leaves?

Local Yard Waste Programs

Yard waste has been banned from landfills in Illinois since 1990, so it cannot be placed out as trash with your regular waste pick up. Yard waste includes leaves, grass clippings, weeds, vines, twigs and branches. Many of Kane County’s municipalities have special programs for leaf collection at this time of year, so check with your city or village for the details. If you live in unincorporated Kane County, then your township road district is the entity that takes care of brush collection, so contact that entity for more information.

Visit the Kane County Recycles Yard Waste page or click on one of the following links for details on local yard waste programs:

To Burn or Not to Burn?

Burning leaves is NOT allowed in most parts of the county — view Kane County’s burning regulations here. For unincorporated portions of Kane County, the burning of landscape waste is punishable with a fine of up to $500! If you’ve missed your leaf pickup dates or simply have an overflow of leaves, don’t try to burn them to get rid of the excess. Consider taking them to one of these drop-off locations.

Make Use of Your Leaves

If you want to avoid or reduce your costs for disposing of yard waste, consider mulching or composting your leaves. Not only will you save on paying for yard waste stickers, you can save money on the fertilizer you may normally apply in spring and fall by utilizing your own yard waste to return nutrients to the soil.

Start a compost pile or add leaves to an existing one—composted leaves and other organic materials are an excellent resource for fertilizing your garden in the warmer months. Leaves can be chopped into small pieces using a mulching mower or leaf shredder and the pieces will decompose directly on lawns. The leaf pieces can also be collected and spread around flowerbeds and shrubs as mulch. To encourage backyard composting, Kane County Recycles sells Soil Saver compost bins for only $60 each. Learn more at the Kane County Recycles compost page.

Don’t Clog the Drains

Lastly, don’t rake or blow leaves into storm drains. The excess nutrients can lead to algae growth in our waterways, and who really wants to deal with flooded streets at this time of year?

Be sure to keep the leaves out of storm drains this fall.

Be sure to keep the leaves out of storm drains this fall.

By following all of these guidelines to properly manage fall yard waste, Kane County residents can help protect local waterways. Please visit www.countyofkane.org and click on Stormwater Education for more information.

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About the Kane County Division of Environmental & Water Resources

The Kane County Division of Environmental & Water Resources develops, evaluates, and implements programs to protect the health, safety and welfare of our residents and the environment. These programs include the countywide Stormwater Management program, the Kane County Recycles recycling and waste recovery programs, the electric aggregation program, the Sustain Kane program, and other resource conservation and environmental projects.