How to Prepare Yard Waste for Pickup
- Pile your leaves & yard waste at the street edge or terrace.
- Do not put leaves in the street.
- Keep piles four feet from obstructions.
- Separate yard waste & leaves from brush.
Covering & Bagging Leaves
This will help keep leaves from blowing into the street. However, this is not required.
Compostable Paper Leaf Bags (Preferred): Please leave bags open at the top so we can see what is inside.
Plastic Bags: Please leave bags open at the top. Bags will be slit open and either left on the terrace or put in refuse cart.
Tarp or Plastic Sheet Cover: You may also cover your leaf piles with a tarp or other plastic sheeting to prevent them from blowing away.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why are all of the scheduled set-out dates Sundays?
Crews will be circling through the neighborhoods during the work week following the Sunday listed.
You must get your leaves out by or on the date listed because crews start working on collecting leaves early on the Monday following the scheduled set-out date. If you wait until later in the week, you are likely to miss your collection chance. Crews will not return for piles set out late.
Will my leaves actually get picked up on the Sundays listed for my address?
The Sundays listed are the dates when you should set them out so crews can pick them up during the work week.
If you wait to set out your yard waste later in the week, it is very likely you will miss your pickup opportunity for this round.
I set my leaves out on the Sunday it said on the schedule. Today is Tuesday and my leaves haven't been picked up. Have I been missed?
Your neighborhood is not the only one to have that assigned Sunday to set out leaves. Crews were likely working in one of the other areas and have yet to get to your home. If you set out leaves on the Sunday listed as the set-out date, the next step is just wait for pickup.
It takes time for crews to circle through all of the neighborhoods that share the assigned set-out date. The leaves should be picked up sometime during the normal work week.
Yard Waste vs. Brush
Please separate yard waste & leaves from brush. We will not collect mixed piles.
What is Yard Waste?
Yard waste is the plant debris you rake or pull from your lawns or gardens. It can include:
- Leaves, weeds, grass clippings garden trimmings, and other similar plant debris.
- Twigs less than 18" long.
- Pumpkins, crab apples, corn stalks, pine cones, etc.
What is Brush?
Brush is a separate collection.
Brush is woody material you have cut from a tree, shrub or bush.
For more information about brush pickup, go to the brush collection page.
Other Yard Waste Rules & Information
- Garlic mustard should be placed in the trash. Learn more about invasive plant species from the Wisconsin DNR.
- The DNR provides guidance on jumping worms.
- Small amounts of sod, 4 or 5 five-gallon buckets per day, with most of the dirt removed are acceptable only at the Streets Division drop-off sites. Larger volumes of sod are not accepted.
- Dirt is not accepted with yard waste.
You can also bring yard waste to a drop-off site.
When rain falls on leaf piles in the street, it creates "leaf tea" that drains into the storm drains.
The storm drains lead to our area lakes, rivers, and streams.
Leaf tea contains nutrients like phosphorus that are harmful to our waterways.
The nutrients contribute to toxic algae blooms, murky water, and lake weeds. And it can cause lower the oxygen level within the lakes.
Managing your yard waste the right way can protect our lakes.
Managing Your Yard Waste
- Keep leaves out of the street by raking along the curb, especially before rainstorms.
- Sign up for rainstorm alerts from Ripple Effects to learn when to rake the street gutter.
- Leave the leaf and mulch them into the yard where they fall.
- Compost yard waste instead of setting it out to the curb.
Learn more about what you can do to protect our lakes and streams with Ripple Effects.
Ripple Effects is maintained by the Madison Area Municipal Stormwater Partnership and the Dane County Land & Water Resources Department.
Yard Waste Collection Process
Step one for yard waste collection - yard waste is pulled or pushed from the terrace.
Step two - yard waste is pushed into a collection vehicle.
Step three: a street sweeper collects the debris left behind in the road.