Handling Yard Waste
How to Properly Handle Yard Waste
The Macomb County Public Works Office (MCPWO) works with local municipalities, businesses and residents to promote the best management practices for clean water to enhance the quality of life in Macomb County. When it rains, water that drains from buildings, roads or other hard surfaces deposits directly into your local storm drains and begins a journey that ultimately ends in Lake St. Clair. It is critical that we eliminate pollution and other contaminants before they enter our streams, rivers and lakes. Clean water is vital not only to the quality of life in Macomb County, but can serve as a critical component of economic development in our communities.
What Is It?
Yard waste is waste generated from cutting the grass, gardening, weeding, and general landscaping done by residents and businesses. It is important to know what to do with the yard waste generated from regular maintenance because it can increase the sediment and algae problems when it ends up in the local rivers and lakes. If you reside along a waterway, grass clippings and leaves that enter the water can restrict flow of water, impact water quality and subject the public to the threat of flooding. Any residual fertilizers and pesticides that may have been used, may run off into the water after a rain event and impact water quality. Even if you do not live near a waterway, rain can move yard waste into a storm drain which will carry the untreated water to the end of the drain system where it enters the local waterways as polluted storm drain water.
Best Management Objectives
According to What You Can Do About Lawn Care published by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), there are recommended management strategies to prevent yard waste and the chemicals that are used for landscaping from entering the waterways.
1. Keep fertilizer and lawn clippings on the lawn.
2. Mow high and leave the clippings.
3. Fertilize in the fall.
4. Hire a knowledgeable contractor.
5. Create a fertilizer-free zones.
6. Reduce your lawn area.
Lawn care can actually be cheaper and easier if you mow your grass high (about 3 inches) and leave the clippings in the grass for nutrients. Taller lawns can shade out weeds and promote healthy root growth.