As the weather turns colder and trees become brightly colored with red, gold and brown leaves, yard work for homeowners becomes a time-consuming chore.
Fall leaf removal and pick up, a time-honored tradition of children jumping into crunchy piles of leaves much to their parents’ dismay, is a staple of this time of year across the northern portion of the United States.
Jeff Smithberger, director of solid waste collection for Fairfax County, said starting Nov. 1, the county will collect leaves raked to the curbs of 26,000 homes in the county.
“Only the houses that pay for leaf collection services will have it, it’s not a county-wide function,” he said. “We serve 11 sections of the county, that are not located within specific cities or towns, like Vienna or Reston.”
Outside companies that ordinarily pick up trash may be responsible for picking up the leaves as well, Smithberger said.
“We run into some confusion with people new to the area and we try to send out information by the Internet or through newsletters, but we do get a lot of phone calls,” he said. “We will pick up leaves inside our sanitation areas, but if a neighborhood wants the county to take their leaves, they may need to petition the county to get that service.”
Fairfax county picks up waste for 43,000 households, which only accounts for 17 percent of residents; the leaf pickup at 26,000 homes represents only 7 percent of the population, he said.
FOR THOSE who do not currently have leaf collection services by the county, Smithberger said those residents are welcome to “put leaves in bags, preferably paper bags, on the side of the street. We compost the leaves and it’s not desirable to use plastic bags because they won’t decompose,” he said.
Those who will receive leaf pickup from the county do not have to bag their leaves, as Fairfax County uses a leaf vacuuming system which works like a regular vacuum to suck leaves into a holding bag until the leaves are deposited at the county composting sites.
“The truck will make three passes through each community starting Nov. 1,” Smithberger said. “We try to be done by Dec. 1, but Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate with us.”
He wanted to remind residents not to park on a pile of freshly raked, dried leaves.
“Dry leaves and hot car mufflers do not go together,” he said.
The leaves will be turned into mulch and will be available for those who wish to use it on plants, he said.
Although leaves could be left on homeowners' lawns to naturally decompose and create fertilizer for next spring, the leaves may suffocate the grass during the fall and winter and have a negative effect instead, he said.
Smithberger said residents are welcome to call the department of solid waste collection for more information about leaf collection, at 703-324-5230.
THE TOWN OF VIENNA will have leaf collection in the north part of town from Oct. 25-28; Nov. 8-12; Nov. 29-Dec. 10, said administrative assistant to the director of public works in Vienna. “We always ask residents to make sure the leaves are out at the curb before the trucks make their first pass,” she said. More information is available on the town’s Web site, www.ci.vienna.va.us.
IN THE CITY OF FAIRFAX, leaves will be collected staring Oct. 18 through the end of December, said an assistant in the office of Operations Director Glen Shelton.
“Trucks run continuously during that time, usually once every two days through a neighborhood,” she said. “When the leaf fall gets heavier, it might get a bit more spread out.”
More information, along with a map of collection areas, is available on the city’s Web site, www.ci.fairfax.va.us.
THE TOWN OF HERNDON will collect leaves north of the W&OD bike trail the first and third weeks of November on regular trash days. Residences south of the bike trail will have their leaves collected the second and fourth weeks of November, also on regular trash days. For more information, call the Town of Herndon Department of Public Works at 703-435-6853.
IN LOUDOUN COUNTY, the town of Leesburg will collect leaves in the Southeast and Southwest quadrants of the town from Oct. 18 through 22; Nov. 1 through 5; Nov. 15 through 19 and Nov. 29 through Dec. 3. In the Northeast and Northwest quadrants, leaf collection will be Oct. 25 through 29; Nov. 8 through 12; Nov. 22 through 26 and Dec. 6 through 10.
Trucks will go through all quadrants of the town between Dec. 13 and 17. For more information about leaf removal in Leesburg, call 703-737-7073 or check the town’s Web site, www.leesburgva.gov.
In Ashburn, residents of both Ashburn Farms and Ashburn Village can bag their leaves and put them out to the curb with their yard waste. Any questions can be directed to Triple A Waste Management at 703-818-8222.
In Cascades, leaves are picked up with yard waste every Monday through December by Waste Management, said Debbie Johnson, assistant general manager for the community.
Generally, homeowners with questions about when their leaves will be removed should contact their immediate government office for more information. Residents of planned communities should contact their homeowner’s organizations