Yard Trim Recycling

Thanksgiving Slide Schedule

There will be NO CURBSIDE COLLECTIONS on Thursday, November 22. Thursday and Friday curbside collections of recycling, yard trim and trash will slide and be made one day later (Monday-Wednesday will remain as regularly scheduled). The Alpha Ridge Landfill will be CLOSED on Thanksgiving. County offices will be closed Thursday and Friday.

Rotten-halloween-neighborGive your pumpkin a new life! Add it to your reusable container or paper bag and set it at the curb on your yard trim day.  


Check Your Collection Days

Call 410-313-6444 or check out our online tool to find your collection days.


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 is 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 or from blue County-provided recycling carts/bins.

Curbside collection of yard trim runs from the first week in April through the third week in January. 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 yard trim collection 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. Curbside recycling and yard trim collection occur on the same day; however, there is a separate truck for each type of collection that can come any time between 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Here is a printable yard trim brochure.

When curbside yard trim collection is not offered, we encourage residents to take yard trim to the Alpha Ridge Landfill Woodwaste Area for recycling. As a last option, residents can place yard trim material out for collection on their trash day. Please note that yard trim set out on trash day will be taken to a landfill and will not be recycled into compost and mulch.



  • pumpkins
  • leaves
  • grass
  • hedge clippings/light brush
  • small limbs or branches less than 4" in diameter and 4' in length (bundled and tied)
  • dry seed pods (pine cones, sour gum balls, etc.)
  • straw/hay


Not Accepted 

  • bamboo
  • small limbs and branches not bundled and tied with sturdy string
  • yard trim placed in plastic bags, blue recycling carts/bins 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 and bundle light brush with sturdy string that won't break (bundles may not exceed 40 lbs, 18" in diameter and 4' in length). Loose small branches and limbs will not be collected.
  • 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 6:00 a.m.


Paper Yard Trim Bags

 There are 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. NOTE: We are no longer able to provide free paper bags to residents.

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 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Proof of Howard County residency required. Plastic bags are NOT accepted at the Wood Waste Drop-off Area.


Mulch – Is there a difference?

Mulch is not regulated in Maryland so no rules apply. Aged hardwood mulch like HoCoGro mulch available at Alpha Ridge Landfill is the best for most uses. A quality mulch will have two key properties: Time and some leafy material mixed in. Mulch is made by recycling fresh and dried wood. Mulch made from fresh cut material has leaves and sap in the wood, which compost during the aging process, stabilizing the material. The composting process makes the mulch a medium to dark brown. Cheap mulches are usually made of wood from unknown sources and are dyed to make them look dark, but may not have been aged. Raw or dried wood that is not composted often steals nitrogen from the soil as the natural microbes try to break down the wood. Also, dyes can sometimes have volatile organic chemicals or metals that don’t occur in undyed hardwood mulch. Paying a little more at the hardware store, or buying the locally-made HoCoGro mulch at the Alpha Ridge Landfill are better alternatives for your garden and lawn. 


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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