Yard Trim Recycling

No Plastic Bags

All curbside yard trim service has made the transition to plastic bag free collection. Howard County reminds residents to bundle material, or use paper bags and reusable containers for yard trim collection. Collection crew will not pick-up yard trim items in plastic bags.

How can I recycle my yard trimmings?

  • Grasscycling
  • Backyard Composting
  • Rake and Take Program
  • Curbside Recycling Collection
  • Drop-off at Alpha Ridge WoodWaste Area


Leave grass clippings on your lawn to return nutrients to the soil and improve lawn quality. Grasscycling will not cause thatch, damage your lawn or spread disease; in fact, lawn care professionals recommend grasscycling for a greener, healthier lawn! Grasscycling also helps our streams and even the Chesapeake Bay! See GrassCycling for more information.

Backyard Composting

Mix leaves, grass clippings and vegetable refuse together and watch the natural decomposition process turn waste into black gold. Call 410-313-6444 for a free composting instruction kit (compost bins available while supplies last). Compost demonstrations are offered April - October. Here is the 2016 compost demo schedule. Visit our Backyard Composting webpage for more information.

Rake & Take Program - large amount of leaves?

Rakers (residents who rake and bag their leaves/grass) are matched with TAKERS (people who want leaves/grass for compost piles). Leaves provide a carbon amendment to compost piles and if left on your gardens, will break down to give you a rich, healthy soil. For more, see the Rake and Take Flier or visit the Master Gardener's website.

Curbside Yard Trim Collection

All curbside yard trim service has made the transition to plastic bag free collection. Howard County reminds residents to bundle material, or use paper bags and reusable containers for yard trim collection. Collection crew will not pick-up yard trim items in plastic bags, including biodegradable bags.

Curbside collection of yard trim runs from the first week in April through the 3rd week in January. (Note: Households in our food scrap collection areas will receive yard trim/food scrap collection year-round.) Once a week curbside collection of UNLIMITED amounts of grass, leaves and light brush is provided to residents living in most single family homes, townhomes and trailer parks in eastern and central Howard County. In these areas, Howard County will collect grass, leaves and light brush ONLY on your scheduled recycling day. These items will not be picked up on your TRASH collection day. To see if you are in the service area, call 410-313-6444. There is a separate truck that picks up yard trim that can come any time between 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Here is a printable yard trim brochure.


  • leaves
  • grass
  • hedge clippings/light brush
  • small limbs or branches less than 4" in diameter and 4' in length
  • dry seed pods (pine cones, sour gum balls, etc.)
  • straw/hay
  • bamboo
  • Not Accepted

  • yard trim placed in plastic bags, blue recycling carts or cardboard boxes
  • bushes with root bases attached
  • yard trim mixed with trash or miscellaneous materials, such as:
    • plastic/clay pots
    • dirt, rocks, sod or sand (see the ARL Fee Schedule for dirt disposal)
    • metal wire or fencing
    • glass, pottery or stone

HOW TO prepare yard trim for curbside collection...

  • Place in paper bags or reusable containers (plastic bags are not accepted)
  • Please do not use biodegradable plastic bags for yard trim. Why? Collection crews have a hard time differentiating between biodegradable plastic bags and regular plastic bags. In an effort to make collection routes efficient, we are not allowing residents to use any type of plastic bag, including biodegradable plastic bags.
  • You no longer have to leave bags open, you may tie them shut
  • Tie or bundle light brush with sturdy string that won't break (bundles may not exceed 40 lbs, 18" in diameter and 4' in length)
  • DO NOT USE cardboard boxes as containers
  • DO NOT USE plastic bags
  • DO NOT USE blue recycling carts - they will not be collected

PLEASE remember your 4's

  • Each item under 40 pounds.
  • Each item less than 4 feet long.
  • Limbs under 4 inches in diameter (must be tied or bundled - not to exceed 18" in diameter).
  • Put out beFORE 6 a.m.

Paper Yard Trim Bags

Residents can earn a coupon for 10 free paper bags (one coupon per family, while supplies last) by completing an online survey. Residents can exchange their coupon for free paper bags at 4 locations in Howard County (coupon is required for free bag pickup). There are also many local and online retailers that carry paper bags. If you don't see paper bags at your favorite grocery or hardware store, ask for them! Here is an information sheet, including retail locations that sell paper yard trim bags.

    Why use paper bags for yard trim?

    • Paper bags decompose naturally with yard trim (no extra steps to remove plastic pieces from compost)
    • Paper bags hold the same amount as plastic bags, but won't puncture as easily
    • Paper bags stay open for easier filling
    • Paper bags contain a component that resists water absorption

Drop-Off at Alpha Ridge Landfill

You can also recycle grass, leaves and brush at the Wood Waste Drop-off Area at the Alpha Ridge Landfill, Monday through Saturday from 8 am - 4 pm. Proof of Howard County residency required. Plastic bags are NOT accepted at the Wood Waste Drop-off Area.

Inclement Weather

During inclement weather, every effort will be made to continue to provide for scheduled collections. If collections are cancelled due to snow, ice, or other severe weather, pick-up will be made the following week on your scheduled recycling day, if possible, or when road conditions permit. Call 410-313-6444 or visit our Inclement Weather webpage for cancellation and makeup information.


For the holiday schedule, click here.

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