Leaf Collection Options
The City offers two leaf collection options:
- Free bagged (no sticker required) leaf collection program - allows residents to dispose of bagged leaves and yard waste weekly. This program runs Nov. 6 through Dec. 15, 2023.
- Bulk curbside collection - every neighborhood has three leaf disposal opportunities each autumn. This year's collection cycles begin Oct. 16, Oct. 30 and Nov. 13. The program concludes Nov. 22, 2023.
The burning of leaves is not permitted within City limits, but residents are encouraged to mulch and compost their leaves and grass clippings to improve the health of their lawns, gardens and the environment.
Free Bagged Leaf and Yard Waste Collection Program
Between March 13, 2023 and the start of free bagged leaf and yard waste collection on Nov. 6, 2023, a yard waste sticker is required on each bag, bundle, can or cart placed out for collection. Stickers cost $2.50 and can be purchased at many Naperville stores or in the Finance Department at the Municipal Center. Paper yard waste bags are available at local grocery and hardware stores. The City does not provide leaf bags.
Between Nov. 6 and Dec. 15, 2023, the City offers a free leaf bagged and yard waste collection program. During this time, homeowners may dispose of yard waste and leaves in 32-gallon paper yard waste bags or clearly labeled cans or carts, free of charge. Branches and other yard waste that are tied into bundles require a sticker at all times.
To participate, fill 32-gallon paper yard waste bags, clearly labeled 32-gallon trash cans or clearly labeled two-wheeled carts with leaves and other yard waste and place the receptacle at the curb by 6 a.m. on your normal trash collection day. There is a 60-pound maximum per bag. (Don't forget that wet leaves add to the weight of the bag.)
This includes the City's yard waste/organics collection program that allows residents to bypass bagging and stickers by utilizing a provided cart to dispose of food waste/organics and yard waste for a seasonal fee fee paid to Groot Industries.
Bulk Curbside Leaf Collection Program
The City's curbside leaf collection schedule provides every neighborhood with three leaf collection opportunities, weather permitting, each year. To participate, residents rake leaves into the street next to the curb in front of their house, avoiding storm drains, at the beginning of each leaf collection cycle.
Collection cycles for 2023 begin on Oct. 16, Oct. 30 and Nov. 13. The program concludes Nov. 22, 2023.
- Crews will collect leaves in front of each home once during each two-week collection cycle.
- Snow, rain or freezing weather may significantly delay or permanently halt curbside leaf collection, as the same equipment that removes leaves is used to handle deicing and snowplowing. If snow falls or is forecast, remaining leaves should be disposed of through the City's weekly yard waste collection program.
- Collection on a certain day can't be guaranteed.
- Only place leaves in leaf piles. Items such as branches, twigs, lumber, rocks, Halloween decorations, etc., can cause the equipment to break down, which delays the collection process and increases costs.
- Rake leaves away from storm drains in the street to prevent flooding.
- Street sweeping will begin after curbside leaf collection ends, weather permitting. Residents may choose to sweep up leaf debris and include it in the weekly yard waste collection program.
Leaf Collection Alternatives
Repurposing yard waste for landscaping is good for the environment, can provide a more natural appearance in your landscape and can save you time and money.
Here are some quick suggestions for repurposing yard waste from The Conservation Foundation:
- Let fallen leaves (and fallen twigs) remain. Leaves are variable in texture and can be collected and shredded at home. Shredding speeds decomposition and reduces leaves from blowing away. Mix shredded leaves into the soil in the fall and allow to break down naturally during the winter for improved soil quality. Leaves also provide food, nesting material, and cover for several types of wildlife, including birds and butterflies.
- Compost your leaves. Chop them up first to speed up decomposition. Leaf mold (composted leaves) makes wonderful mulch, vegetable garden amendment, and has several uses in organic lawn care.
- When mowing the lawn, use the mulching feature rather than bagging the clippings. Returning grass clippings to the yard keeps your lawn healthy and saves space in the landfill.
- The Conservation Foundation: Leave the Leaves
- Lower DuPage River Watershed Coalition: This Fall, Use Leaves as a Resource
- Lower DuPage River Watershed Coalition: Enrich Your Soil with Fall Leaves and Leaf Mold
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Composting At Home
- National Wildlife Foundation: Why You Should Leave the Leaves
Leaf Collection Frequently Asked Questions
The leaves haven’t fallen yet. Why does the City start curbside collection so early?
Most leaves, regardless of the type of tree, fall by the end of November. Starting the program in mid-October helps us run curbside collection three times, while also making sure we have equipment prep time for snowplowing operations prior to December.
It’s very frustrating when leaves drop after curbside collection is over. Why can’t the City extend the program?
In short – winter weather. We use the same 22 dump trucks for snowplowing and salting as we do leaf collection, so we need those trucks ready to go out on the road. It takes a full week to pull off all the leaf collection equipment and add on plow blades, salt, etc. In six of the last eight years, our first major snowfall or ice event, which required all 22 plow trucks to treat streets and make them safe for drivers and police and fire vehicles, took place the first week in December or sooner.
Why can't the leaf-to-plow changeover happen gradually instead of all at once so that some trucks can remain on leaf duty?
During winter weather, roads must be treated immediately to ensure the safety of drivers – be them our first responders making their way to calls or the general public. Because we use the same 22 trucks for snow removal and de-icing as we do leaf collection, it’s not safe or practical to have anything less than our full fleet ready for winter operations.
Why does the City use the same trucks for leaf collection and snow removal? Wouldn’t using separate equipment be more efficient?
If the City ran dual fleets, we would need at least $2 million in equipment up front and $100,000 annually to fund additional personnel, maintenance and overhead. That is a significant additional cost to our community.
Isn’t this program meant to pick up all of my leaves?
No. Curbside leaf collection is one of three options for leaf disposal each year, and each option compliments the others. We also offer a free bagged leaf program, which is available for several weeks each year in November and December; and you can also mulch or compost your leaves, which is healthiest for your yard and the environment. No one option is intended to pick up all the leaves that fall; instead, it’s the combination of options that clears the most leaves.
Why is it better for the environment to keep fallen leaves in my yard?
Leaves have several healthy uses in the yard, such as serving as mulch or a covering for vegetable gardens and providing nutrients for trees. They also can help to improve soil quality. Composting or mulching your leaves on your property also decreases the volume of leaves that must be transported for disposal. Fewer leaves to haul means cleaner waterways and storm drains, as well as fewer collection trucks on the road, which helps lower emissions.
Why doesn’t the City make adjustments when leaves don’t fall as quickly?
We do! Each year, Public Works considers the age of our trees, previous spring/summer drought conditions, and fall weather patterns and outlooks to create the most effective collection route for the specific leaf season. Also, staff continues to look at predicted weather and how many leaves have fallen throughout the program to determine if additional services can be performed beyond the scheduled three pickups prior to Thanksgiving. All these decisions are variable, weather-dependent and cannot be guaranteed up front. As a result, the City encourages residents to use all of the available option to dispose of the leaves on their property.
If the City is paying for a private company to pick up leaves, how does leaf collection conflict with snowplowing?
The City only contracts out about 10% of collection areas to help complete the program on time and prior to the end of November. There are only a few private companies still interested and capable of providing leaf pick-up since Naperville is one of very few large communities still performing citywide curbside leaf pick-up in Illinois.
Why not have residents place leaves in the parkway and not in the street?
The equipment used for leaf collection – John Deere tractors and blades, which specifically help gather and organize the leaves for efficient pick up – would destroy the parkway grass.