Yard Waste: A Real Pain in the Grass…When Dumped in Parks and Natural Areas

a push lawn mower sprays grass behind as it mows a lawnAll Northwest gardeners know that spring, summer, and fall bring lawn clippings, leaves, and many types of yard waste. All of that yard waste has to go somewhere, and unfortunately, a few misguided people dump it where they shouldn’t: on hillsides or in public areas like parks, roadsides or storm ponds. These few people can cause big problems:

  • Dumping increases the risk of a landside: When someone dumps their yard waste on a hillside, it makes the slopes less stable and increases the risk of a landslide.
  • Dumping causes water pollution: When someone dumps yard waste sprayed with pesticides or fertilizers near a creek, lake, or Puget Sound, those chemicals enter the water and can harm both people and wildlife.
  • Dumping spreads invasive species: Sometimes yard waste contains invasive plant species without us knowing. When people dump it illegally in public areas, those invasives can start growing in new areas. Invasive species are destructive to our native plants, insects, and wildlife – and we don’t want them growing anywhere!

So what should you do with yard waste? Many places offer curbside yard waste pickup, just like you have for recycling. In places where yard waste service doesn’t exist, you can take your waste to a nearby transfer station. Check with your local waste hauler or the solid waste division of your local city or county to find out what options exist in your area.

Report Illegal Dumping
You can help by reporting illegal dumping. Illegal dumping is when any kind of garbage or yard waste is dumped on public property. Many cities or counties have an online form for reporting, or an “Illegal Dumping Hotline.” Information for both can be found by visiting the website of your local Public Works Department.

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