Does your yard have curb appeal?     Keep it simple and rake your leaves, clip your hedges, and mow the lawn – maybe for the last time this season.

Just as important as your yard’s appearance is what you do with its waste.   Be green about how you dispose of those leaves, lawn clippings and other materials.   Thousands of tons of yard waste are literally thrown out with the trash.   In fact, this fall, more than half of Chicago’s residential trash will consist of yard waste.   Reduce the landfill burden and recycle your yard.

Ever hear of the Blue Bag Recycling program.  Be green and place your leaves and yard clippings into a blue bag.   Then, just leave the blue bag of yard waste with the rest of your recyclable for trash collection.

Composting is the second way to be green with your yard waste.   Not only will you save money by creating your own fertilizer, but you’ll be feeding your soil with vital nutrients.  You can also use your compost to nourish your indoor plants if you like.

Do you know how to compost?   Read on for some composting tips from the Chicago Department of Environment.

Compost is that earthy, dark, crumbly textured substance made of plant remains and other decomposed material.   Full of nitrogen and carbon, compost is vital to healthy, thriving plants.  In addition to yard waste, you can also add kitchen scraps to your compost to recycle in your own backyard.

Follow these 10 simple steps for composting success:

  1. Location, location, location.   Choose a shaded, well-drained space in your yard.
  2. Form.   How will you store your compost?   You can buy them, use a recycled pallet or two-by-fours and plywood, or go binless.
  3. Foundation.   Remove any grass from where you plan to set the bin or pile to allow microbes and earthworms into the compost to do their magic.
  4. Variety makes spicy composting.   DO COMPOST leaves, twigs, grass, fruit and veggie peelings, bread, eggshells, coffee grounds, mulch, sawdust, weeds, even shredded paper.   DO NOT COMPOST meat, bones, oil or fat, dairy products, dog or cat waste, plastics, chemically treated plants.
  5. Accelerate the process.   Chop/grind materials for quicker composting.
  6. Think in layers.   Begin with a layer of fresh grass, then a layer of dried leaves, and layer of food scraps.   Think 2 parts grass to 1 part leaves.
  7. Quench thirst.   Water each layer and buy food scraps in the middle of your heap to deter critters.
  8. Keep it moving.   Turn your pile with a garden fork a few times a month.   You’ll keep a perfect composting temperature by doing so.
  9. Cultivate patience.   Be ready to wait 2 weeks to several months to bake (composting temps are between 130 and 160 degrees F).   You’ll know it’s done when it’s crumbly, earthy scented and dark brown.
  10. Start at the bottom.   You always want to remove finished compost from beneath the pile or bin.

So please be green:   Blue bag it or compost your yard waste this fall.

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