Yard waste, such as fallen trees, raked leaves and grass clippings, is an inevitable product of lawn care and garden maintenance. Aside from creating a natural habitat with the debris, which is one option suggested by the University of Illinois Extension, residents of rural and urban areas have several options for using and removing yard waste.
Haul Waste Away
Some trash collectors will haul yard waste to the landfill along with residential household garbage, though they may impose additional fees or require specific bagging procedures. Contact various landfills for their yard waste rates and procedures if you wish to haul it to them directly. The University of Illinois Extension recommends that you contact your public works department for yard waste recycling and reclamation services, which may require you to haul the waste or pay service fees.
Yard waste gradually decomposes in a compost pile, which then provides you with organic matter to add to your gardening soil. The ratio of carbon to nitrogen from different plant materials affects decomposition speed, though, so it's important to mix a variety of materials in the pile. Iowa State University Extension notes that leaves and hedge clippings provide carbon, whereas weeds and grass clippings provide nitrogen; use equal amounts from these two groups.
Fallen limbs and trees provide wood for fireplaces and barbeque pits. Allow them to dry and then chop them for home use, or advertise free wood to anyone who will chop and haul it away. Although some people burn all types of yard waste, your area may prohibit this practice and the Washington State Ecology Department advises against it. Smoke from the fire pollutes soil, water and air, and may aggravate breathing difficulties, such as asthma and emphysema. Do not burn poisonous varieties of oak, ivy or sumac if you opt to burn yard waste.
Your lawn can benefit from a thin layer of leftover grass clippings, but if you wish to remove them, one option is to use them as mulch for your garden plants. The University of Missouri Extension recommends that you gradually mulch with dry grass clippings until it reaches 1 inch in thickness. For thicker mulch, mix the clippings with dried leaves and wood chips, which is an additional use for other yard waste materials.