Leaf Collection Q&A

We’ve seen that you have a lot of questions about our curbside leaf collection program, especially with leaves sticking around on trees this year. Many of these questions get asked year after year, so we want to take this chance to set the record straight on this program – and encourage use of ALL our leaf disposal opportunities. Take a look and please share this information with your friends and neighbors.

To learn more about the curbside program, or for more leaf disposal options, visit www.naperville.il.us/leafcollection.

Frequently Asked Questions and Concerns

The leaves haven’t fallen yet. Why does the City start curbside collection so early?
Most leaves, regardless of what type of tree it is, 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.

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 in plow blades, salt, etc.

In six of the last seven years, our first major snowfall or ice event that required all 22 plow trucks to treat streets and make them safe for drivers and our police and fire vehicles took place the first week of 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/de-icing as we do leaf collection, it’s not safe or practical to not have 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.

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 leaf collection route. This year, we surveyed neighborhoods the week before the first pick-up and found most leaves had already fallen in areas with older trees, so crews started collection in these areas to give more time for leaves to fall in other areas. Our staff continues to look at predicted weather and how many leaves have fallen to help collect as many leaves as possible before winter.

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 John Deere tractors and blades that are used to help gather and organize the leaves for efficient pick up would destroy the parkway grass.

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 runs through Dec. 17, and you can also mulch or compost your leaves. 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.