Focus On: Yard Waste


You may have heard that the county was considering new rules for yard waste collection, specifically about plastic bags. A decision to pursue a regulatory change that affects how yard waste is collected has been postponed indefinitely.

Currently, there is not a ban on the use of plastic bags for yard waste in Fairfax County.  However, we would like to encourage the use of bio-degradable paper bags and or the use of personal containers marked for “yard debris”.   

The best alternative is to leave grass clippings on the lawn (grasscycling), where they will quickly biodegrade and add nutrient value to your lawn.  If you choose to use plastic bags, please remember they must be clear plastic bags.  We do not accept black plastic bags or bags that cannot be easily identified as yard debris material.  

Read our blog below for more information on the best yard waste techniques, including grasscycling. 

It’s officially “Yard Waste” season!

As winter ends, and the thaw begins you will find yourself with what we call “Yard Waste” in the form of organic matter cluttering your yard; do you know the best way to dispose of your Yard Debris to keep your lawn and the environment green?

Whether its lawn clippings or a barrage of unsightly leaves seemingly dumped onto your lawn; some of us wonder the best way to collect and prepare them for fast, easy and green pickup.

Many people do not realize that yard debris collection is actually considered to be a form of recycling. This can be somewhat confusing as yard debris is not picked up with your Single Stream recyclables.

Instead, brush, branches, grass clippings and tree limbs are broken down organically by a bio-chemical reaction known as composting. Once collected and taken to a special facility, over time, these materials become a new product called compost.

Although we may not think of it in the literal term, composting is still, very much, a form of recycling. In fact, it is possibly the most organic form of recycling, since all material is returned directly to the earth through various applications to aid in new growth.

But how can you assure that the unsightly organic clutter on your lawn is properly disposed of to ensure it helps the growth of new leaves and blossoms in the spring?!

The first step is to ensure the correct preparation of your Yard Waste for pick-up.

Yard Waste Wheelbarrow
Defining 'Debris'

First, let's define the FULL list of all accepted yard debris items accepted at your curb.


Grass clippings

Tree limbs and brush (bundled and tied)

Christmas Trees


Proper Preparation for Pick-Up

Loose in a Container

The most preferred method of collecting your yard clippings, leaves, and small branches is loose in a container(s) that can be lifted and dumped into our truck. Yard debris that is collected in plastic bags must be broken open before the composting process can begin, and for that reason, we recommend that you simply collect it in a "yard debris" labeled reusable container. (Did we mention that you'll be saving on all of those yard debris collection bags by investing in a few sturdy compost collection containers?)

Compostable Plastic Bags

In certain locations, another accepted method of collection is the use of plastic bags that are certified compostable. These can be purchased at most home improvement stores.

Brown Paper Collection Bags

Similar to a compostable plastic bag, a brown paper collection bag, which can also be bought at a local home improvement store, will break down organically with the collected yard debris.

Yard Waste Bundles
Bundling Methods

In order for us to collect all of the homes on any given route, tree limbs and brush must be no longer than 4 feet in length and 3 inches thick in diameter. These items must be tied with rope or twine so that one man may easily pick-up. American Disposal

Services will collect a maximum of 10 bags of grass clippings and or leaves, and 10 bundles of brush per pick-up. (There will be an extra charge for additional removal of larger amounts of yard debris that must be scheduled in advance through our customer service center.)

Try Grasscycling!

Grasscycling is the "green" way to keep your lawn beautiful and healthy, and entails leaving the grassclippings ON your lawn after you mow, instead of bagging them. 

When clippings stay on the lawn they release important nutrients into the soil, act as mulch and promote natural aeration by earthworms. Clippings decompose and feed the soil the nutrients it needs. 

Grasscycling and leaving the clippings on the ground also slows waterloss and reduces the needs for fertilization. 

Just remember to cut the grass only when it’s dry and to always check to make sure your mower blades are sharp before you start you implement this technique.

Things to Remember

Items that are either bagged OR bundled should not exceed 50 lbs.

Bundles should not exceed arm length. If you cannot wrap your arms around the bundle limbs, break it down into multiple bundles.

The following items are not acceptable for yard debris collection: mulch, dirt, rock, shrubs, trees, tree stumps, and sod