Fall yard waste season preparations begin in Minnesota

As the temperatures take a dip and wind gusts pick up more and more Minnesotans will be carving out time to rake leaves and take care of fall yard work. 

Manager of the Maple Grove Yardwaste Site, Steve Goetze, says traffic at the dump site is just starting to pick up. This site partners with surrounding cities, providing a place for people to get rid of their yard waste. He says, when the weather is nice on the weekends in the fall, it’s extremely busy. 

"It’s pretty calm right now and the nicer the weather is the busier we’ll be. A typical Saturday now is about 700, 800 cars. In October and November, if it’s nice, we’ll triple or quadruple that with as many as 3,500 cars on a Saturday," Goetze said. 

All of that traffic means more leaves and yard waste. Goetze says by the end of the season, around 175,000 bags of leaves will be dropped off here. 

"[The current pile] is probably 150 cubic yards of leaves and in the next six weeks we’ll probably take in about 125,000 cubic yards," Goetze said. 

The Maple Grove Yardwaste Site closes for the season on Nov. 30. What cities require residents to do with yard waste, or the services they provide vary greatly across cities and counties. 

If you don’t want to deal with the crowds at a yard waste site, you can try backyard composting. Hennepin County is still selling backyard composting bins

Carolyn Collopy with Hennepin County Waste Reduction and Recycling says people can get started with a compost bin this fall using just grass clippings and leaves. 

"You can definitely get a great compost product with just using materials from your yard. So if you’re cleaning up your garden bed, all of the non-diseased plant material can go in here. Your leaves are great material for your compost bin, they’re really going to help make a good rich compost and your grass clippings too," Collopy said. 

Depending on the size of your bin and the materials inside, Collopy says yard waste from this fall could make useable compost by late summer or next fall. She says it’s a great option to get a free, natural fertilizer. 

"The difference between compost and fertilizer is compost. One; it’s something you can make in your backyard. It’s natural ingredients. Fertilizers might be synthetic. There are a lot of different kinds of fertilizer and using compost in your backyard is going to save you some money," Collopy said. 

Another added benefit is compost has is its ability to retain water. Collopy says compost can hold up to five times its weight in water, something useful during dry years. 

"We’ve had really dry conditions here the past two years so putting compost down on your garden bed and your lawn is going to help maintain the moisture level that your garden needs," Collopy said.