- Yard waste/leaves set-out dates form and lookup map
- Yard waste/leaves collection rules
- Backyard composting
- Leaf mulching
- Everyday Engineering podcast about leaf mulching
- Dane County Ripple Effects Leaf Free Streets
- The Streets Division yard waste collection process
- What's the difference between yard waste and brush?
- Drop-off Sites
- Collection concern?
- Choose "Yard Waste Collection" on the Report-a-Problem website and submit the correct form.
Enter your address in the form below to receive the dates when you should set out leaves & yard waste for collection.
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.
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.
I set my leaves out on the set-out Sunday. Today is Wednesday. Why haven't the leaves been picked up?
Your neighborhood shares a set out date with other neighborhoods. It takes time for crews to circle through all of the neighborhoods that share the assigned set-out date.
If you set out leaves on the Sunday listed you have done everything right. The leaves should be picked up sometime during the normal work week.
Debris left in the road after the crew picked up the leaves.
A little bit of this is to be expected. Leaf pickup isn't fully complete until the street sweeper trails behind the leaf pickup crews.
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.
- Rules for Sod
- 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. Sod with considerable amount of dirt will not be accepted. Sod will not be collected from the curb.
- Dirt is not accepted with yard waste at the curb or at the drop-off sites.
You can also bring yard waste to a drop-off site.
You must follow all drop-off site guidelines as outlined on the drop-off site page.
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.
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.
You can review the photos below and you can see more of the collection process in our YouTube video about yard waste collection.
We collect material this way because it is the most efficient and cost-effective way for us to collect as much material as we can in the window of time we have to do it.
We collect thousands of tons of yard waste annually - most of it coming in the weeks mother nature allows between when the leaves fall and the snows begin so our crews have to be quick. (Keep in mind the same crews collecting leaves are the people driving the snowplows.)
Plus, we have to be economical. All of the equipment we use to collect leaves are used in other duties throughout the year. The vehicles that push leaves are mowers in the spring & summer. They plow snow from bus stops, bike paths, and sidewalks in the winter. The brown trucks that receive the leaves can be used to collect all sorts of material all year long, too.
Step One: Yard waste is pulled or pushed from the terrace. In this photo, the pile is close enough to the curb where the operator does not have to drive up onto the sidewalk to shove the leaves from the right of way into the road. They can just drag them backwards.
Step Two: Yard waste is pushed into a collection vehicle.
Step Three: A street sweeper collects the debris left behind in the road.
There is always a gap between collection and sweeping. The gap can be a couple days. There's just more leaf collection crews than street sweepers. Plus, sweepers move very slow & hold very little material compared to the big brown trucks used in leaf collection, so they can complete their work at different speeds. We do our best to keep that gap as close as possible, but there will be a gap.