Fallen leaves are loaded with natural fertilizer, which can cause water pollution that harms people and animals. Leaves that are left near the side of the road can also cause flooding when they block storm drains and waterways.
Keep the ponds and waterways in your community clean and healthy this fall with a few simple steps.
- Never dump leaves in wetlands or waterways (it’s harmful and illegal)
- Bag leaves in paper bags for disposal by your town (check your town’s disposal schedule)
- Or compost your yard waste at home in an area away from wetlands and storm drains
- Keep paved areas and storm drains clear of leaves
- Make sure your lawn service is properly disposing of all your waste
- Mow your leaves with a mulching mower and let them stay them on the lawn as a natural fertilizer
Leaves as Water Pollution? Really?
What could be more natural than leaves in the fall? The problem isn’t the leaves. It’s what people do with their leaves and the way our stormwater infrastructure works.
Freshly fallen leaves contain a natural fertilizer called phosphorous. When phosphorous gets added to streams, ponds and wetlands, it serves as an especially powerful fertilizer in the water. It encourages lush growth of pond weeds and algae in the spring that can interfere with swimming, reduce the amount of oxygen in the water needed to sustain fish and aquatic life, and in severe cases, can contribute to the growth of cyanobacteria “blooms” that can be toxic to people and animals.
When leaves fall in the autumn, they quickly begin to decompose, and rain washes the natural fertilizers out of them. When leaves fall in a forest or on your lawn, these fertilizers get recycled into the soil and trapped there, helping plants grow in the spring.
But when leaves, grass clippings or other organic materials, get dumped into wetlands, waterways or ponds, those natural fertilizers go right into our water and cause problems.
Similarly, when leaves or other yard waste are left on paved areas, rain washes those natural fertilizers into storm drains in your neighborhood that lead right to our waterways without first going to a water treatment plant.
Dumping of leaves can also cause blockages in storm drains and waterways that can cause flooding.
View your town’s fall leaf and yard waste collection procedures for 2020/2021 – or visit your town’s website!
- Canton: Yard waste may be disposed of at the Canton Yard Waste Recycling Facility (99 Pine Street), which during the period from April 1, 2020 – December 14, 2020 is open Monday-Saturday from 7:30AM – 4:30PM. After December 14, the facility is open Wednesday-Saturday. Residents must display a yard waste recycling sticker on their vehicle, which can be purchased either at the facility or at the DPW Office (801 Washington Street).
- Dedham: Yard waste must be placed in paper yard waste bags or in open barrels and set curbside for collection on your regular recycling day from April 20, 2020 – December 13, 2020.
- Foxborough: Residents may dispose of yard waste at the Town of Foxborough Compost Site (the former landfill site on East Belcher Road) on Monday-Saturday from 7:30AM – 3:45PM, except holidays. This schedule is in effect from April 6, 2020 through November (exact end date TBD). A sticker is required and can be obtained at the Compost Site with proof of residency.
- Norwood: Leaves must be placed in paper bags and will be collected curbside on your regular trash collection day from April through November. Bags must weigh less than 50 pounds. Residents can also drop off collected leaves at the Winter Street Composting Facility (370 Winter Street) on Saturdays from 8:00AM – 1:30PM, provided it is not a Hazardous Waste and Recycling Day.
- Quincy: Yard waste must be collected in paper bags, cardboard boxes, or barrels with a yard waste sticker to be collected curbside on the weeks indicated on the calendar here. Yard waste stickers are available at the DPW office, City Hall, and the Kennedy Senior Center. Residents may also drop off yard waste year-round (weather permitting) at the DPW yard (behind the administrative offices at 55 Sea Street) on Monday-Friday from 7:30AM – 3:00PM. The facility is also available on Saturdays March 28th through December 5th from 7:30AM – 2:30PM.
Randolph: Curbside collection is offered on the following dates: November 7th, November 21st, and December 5th (2020); April 17th, May 8th, and May 22nd (2021). Yard waste must be collected in paper bags or loosely in barrels or cardboard boxes.
- Sharon: Place leaves in biodegradable paper bags. Bags must be placed curbside to be collected on your regular trash collection day. This service runs from October 26, 2020 – December 4, 2020 and April 26, 2021 – May 24, 2021. Residents can also drop off yard waste at the Farnham Road Compost Site from 11:00AM – 4:00PM on the days indicated on the calendar here.
- Stoughton: Residents can dispose of leaf and yard waste at the Gay Street Pit on Saturdays from 8:00AM – 3:00PM in November.
- Westwood: Curbside pickup of yard waste will occur on the weeks listed here. Leaves must be placed in paper leaf recycling bags or loosely in barrels clearly marked “leaves.” Containers should not weigh more than 45 pounds and must be placed curbside by 7AM on your normal trash pickup day. Compost bins are also available for purchase from the town.