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Organics and Yard Waste

It's a violation of city code to blow or sweep your fallen leaves, lawn clippings or weeds into the street, sidewalk, gutter or alley, but there are other environmentally friendly ways to take care of yard waste besides putting it into the landfill.

Compost and Yard Waste Recycling Services
In Aurora, we have two licensed waste hauler that offers organics and yard waste recycling to customers, Waste Management and Wompost. These services are available to a limited number of Aurora zip codes. Waste Management customers may call 303.797.1600 to find out if organic and yard waste recycling is available for your residence. For Wompost composting services, call 720.446.8948 or email them. 

Composting at Home
There are a variety of methods for turning food and other organic waste into rich, nutrient-laden soil for use in gardens. There's also a lot of information out there on how to get a compost pile, bucket, or bin started. Check out the Denver Urban Gardens composting basics overview, which is straightforward and accessible.

Use Fallen Leaves in Your Garden
If having your yard waste commercially recycled is not an option, turn your yard waste into an asset for your property by using shredded leaves or grass clippings to amend the soil in your garden.

Did you know that 50 to 80 percent of the nutrients that trees extract from the ground end up in the leaves? Using nutrient-rich leaves to amend soil can improve the size and health of your plants and condition the soil to retain more water — so you will use less water. Gardening in many Aurora soils without soil amendments is difficult to impossible, and using yard waste in the place of commercially available soil amendments can save you money and could reduce your environmental impact as well.

Not all leaves are equally beneficial. Some leaves (black walnut and eucalyptus) can actually harm a garden or lawn. Be sure a tree's leaves will help a garden before trying these strategies. If leaves make a soil too acidic for plants, bring down the pH level by adding an alkaline substance.

Options for using yard waste in the garden include:

Leaf Mold
This soil amendment is a longer-term strategy, taking a year or more to produce, but it yields a nutrient rich amendment that can help soil retain water.

Leaf Mulch
To protect soil and insulate it from the cold, pile a few inches of shredded leaves directly under trees, shrubs and other plants. The more air between the shredded leaves, the better it will insulate the soil.  You can also spread some of the leaf mulch directly into the grass; however, be careful where placing the shredded leaves so they are not taken by the wind onto a neighbor's lawn or into the street.

Leaves and Grass in Compost
Shredded leaves and grass clippings can help balance the proportion of carbon and nitrogen in a compost pile. The pile should be two-thirds carbon and one-third nitrogen. Shredded leaves will provide more carbon or “brown” material. Grass clippings and other “green” material will add nitrogen to the compost pile. For an introduction to composting, take a look at this Composting Basics guide prepared by Denver Urban Gardens.

Grass Clippings as Fertilizer
Grass clippings are full of nitrogen, the nutrient most frequently used by grass. So don't bag it, reuse it. Using a mulching mower, mulching blade attachment or mowing twice, grass blades can be chopped up fine enough that they will quickly decompose, adding nutrients and organic matter back into the soil. This does not result in a build-up of thatch. Tall grass will be more difficult to chop up finely. Grass clippings may also be used to top dress vegetable gardens. Avoid this practice if you use herbicides or pesticides on your lawn. 
Mulching blades are available for some mowers. 


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