Corona Garden Diary 4/6: Stuck With Your Own Yard Waste?

Of all the things to worry about during the pandemic, perhaps the fact that some trash companies have begun to suspend yard waste pick up should be way down on the list.

But this is a garden blog and it’s relevant, so here we go.

Yesterday I received a recorded message from my trash company saying that — due to the higher volume of residential trash that’s been produced during the shut down — they were indeed going to suspend yard waste pick up.  It’s understandable; nevertheless, it’s a tad problematic at this time of year to be without that service.

During the spring and fall, I clean up massive amounts of debris from my yard: sticks, branches, weeds, clippings, dried flower stalks, leaves, nuts, etc.  Some of this I add to my half-assed compost pile, but a lot of it I toss into old garbage cans and place out on the street every Tuesday night to be picked up by the trash company.  Presumably, they dump it onto a much larger compost pile, where I imagine an army of county workers lovingly tending the pile with pitchforks.  Much of the stuff I put out as yard waste is stuff that would take years to break down into usable compost (branches, course leaf stems, etc.) or it’s stuff that I fear would simply sprout on my compost pile and swallow it up (e.g., ivy clippings) so out it goes.

But alas, now I and many other gardeners are stuck having to manage our own waste.  The way I see it there are three options:

  1. Stop collecting the waste in the first place.  This means no weeding, no cutting down of old perennials, and generally no tidying of the garden whatsoever.  Just let everything sit in place.  For mowing, just let the clippings sit in the grass.  Or I guess, don’t mow?
  2. Hire some kind of landscaping crew to do the yard work for you.  They will then take the waste away as part of their service, presumably.  (Although usually it seems like the mowing guys leave the bags of grass clippings out at the curb for their clients’ yard waste service to collect.)
  3. Find an out-of-the-way place in your yard and dump as much of waste as you can in that spot.

Option 1 seems implausible to me.  Even if you are a proponent of natural gardening practices and “wild” gardens (which I definitely am!) it seems like some clean up and debris removal is necessary.  Also, gardeners like to garden, and weeding/pruning/clean-up tasks are like 75% of gardening.  Having said that, it is worth asking if there are areas of the garden that could just get a bit more wild this year.  Who knows, maybe some interesting things could happen if you just let a few things go.

Option 2 is fine, I guess, but I can’t afford to pay a landscaping crew or professional gardener to come in once a week and do what I usually do, so that’s out for me.

Option 3 is a great option if you have an out-of-the-way spot, like a distant corner or an empty space behind a shed or something like that.  There are ecological benefits to keeping more “waste” on your property, and if you are organized and systematic about it, maybe it could even be a habit that continues after the shutdown is over.

DSC_2366

I have to figure what to do with this stuff.

I am lucky in that my backyard ends in a pointy triangular shape that is the perfect place for compost and yard waste.

DSC_2377

This bottlebrush buckeye will leaf out soon and hide my compost eyesore, which is located in that far corner.

Usually my compost area looks like this:

DSC_2369

I know, it’s pretty bad.  There is no composting discipline here.  Underneath the vegetable waste are large branches that fell during summer thunderstorms, big sticks, and of course, there is last fall’s decorative squash bravely resisting the forces of decomposition.  I can dig under the pile to get some scoops of nice compost, but mostly it is a place to dump yard waste during the months that there is no yard waste pickup.

Since I will be needing to dump a whole bunch more stuff here over the coming weeks and maybe months, I tidied it up in preparation:

wp-1586200120245.jpg

Check it out!  Good enough for the cover of Yard Waste Digest, don’t you think?

So my plan is to dump most of the weeds on the compost pile, and then try to sort the bigger yard waste, like sticks, tough perennial stalks, etc., into some organized piles.  Noxious things like ivy vines I will covertly slip into my regular trash can.

I don’t know if it will work, but gardeners are nothing if not adaptable, right?  Hey, maybe we will develop some valuable new habits as a result of this crazy shutdown.

Let’s give it a shot!

7 thoughts on “Corona Garden Diary 4/6: Stuck With Your Own Yard Waste?

  1. I am actually considering a rotating enclosed compost bin once things settle down. I asked my new Freind at the nature foundation and he felt an enclosed one along with being down the mountain would be fine with regard to bears!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. I started making a sort of low fence with the cut stems of plants – weaving them around offset vertical sticks. Like a wattle fence but with yard waste. In theory the lower layers of the fence will decompose and I’ll be able to keep adding stems on top. I got the idea from the NC Botanical Garden.

  3. have the same problem here. I have been using the sticks as kindling. Although I did that before the pandemic. Hopefully yard waste pickup will start this week.

  4. I have never put out yard waste and I have a very tiny yard (quarter acre!) and the “gift” of English ivy constantly, relentlessly coming through from one neighbor and kudzu from the other (the former makes up in density for what the kudzu offers in sheer rate of growth). I have a large stick pile that the birds love in the winter and inclement weather, and pull and clip the vines madly, loop them into big “wreaths” and messy 8s etc and make piles. I have never had them root because after a week or two I just flip the pile – Soooo easy to flip because it’s light and sort of melded into one vegetal pancake. I even take the surprisingly little time to reduce the light brushy prunings into smaller pieces that I let lie in the paths since normal mulch washes away and rocks are out with me. . . helps keep the paths from being muddy. A tree comes down? I line the paths and upright stumps make retaining walls and at our house a turtle ring which is now the happy home for a whole family of blue tailed skinks we really enjoy spotting. I bet when this is over you may discover you keep more organic material in your yard willingly, and might even have a few more wild life sightings!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s