Once all those pretty-colored leaves have fallen off the trees and are turning brown and crunchy on your property, you might feel motivated to rake them up and dispose of them – or you could leave them until spring when they are wet and gross and do it then.

As a former homeowner, I wanted to do it before the snow fell and they froze to the ground. The reality of it is I often left them until spring when they were wet and gross.

I lived across the street from a swamp. I hauled the leaves there and dumped them in the water. Almost all of the leaves on my lawn came from that swamp anyway, so I looked at it as returning them to whence they came.

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Most Massachusetts communities have rules and regulations about picking up leaves and yard waste. In New Bedford, Capitol Waste Services will collect leaves and yard waste the business day after your scheduled trash pick up. Trash goes out on Monday, leaves and yard waste go out on Tuesday.

They do this until the week of December 11 this year and resume the week of April 3, 2024. For specific rules about how to pack your leaves and tard waste and details about brush and branch collections, visit the Facilities and Fleet Management page of the City of New Bedford website.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, meanwhile, encourages folks to compost their leaves and yard waste. According to Mass.gov, "Composting is a vital part of the Commonwealth's waste reduction and recycling strategy."

Massachusetts Prefers You Compost Your Leaves After Raking
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media

"The benefits of composting include: reduced volume of waste to be incinerated or landfilled, reduced adverse environmental impacts from disposing of leaf and yard waste, decreased disposal costs, production of a beneficial material, compost, which improves the productive potential and condition of soils, and conservation of natural resources," Mass.gov states.

Mass.gov has a Leaf and Yard Waste Composting Guidance Document with instructions for turning your yard waste into compost.

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