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Yard Waste at Curb in Barrels and Bags

Yard Waste Pick Up

Public Works

The City offers free weekly collection of yard waste, April 1-December 31 for residents with recycling collection from the City. Yard waste is banned from landfills and incinerators in Massachusetts. Leaves and other yard waste that fall on your property should be gathered as needed. Leaves and twigs on sidewalks and curbs adjacent to your property are the responsibility of the property owner to collect and set out as yard waste.

Important Tips:

  • Set yard waste out by 7AM on your collection day, or after 6PM the night before.
  • Place yard waste in barrels marked with “Yard Waste Only” stickers facing the street, or in lawn refuse bags. Paper lawn bags shouldn’t have stickers on them. To request yard waste stickers to place on barrels for yard waste collection, please visit CambridgeMA.Gov/RecycleSupplies. Stickers are also available for pick up at DPW, 147 Hampshire St.
  • Sweeping or blowing leaves into the street or sidewalk is strictly prohibited. Residents are required to collect leaves and other yard waste from the public sidewalk and the adjoining curb out to the center of the street.
  • Barrels should not exceed 32-gallons and should not weigh more than 50 pounds.
  • No plastic bags. Do not staple or tape bags.
  • Bundle branches greater than 1 inch in diameter with string and place next to trash.
  • If you hire a contractor to clean up your yard, they are required to remove the yard waste and take it to a compost facility.
  • During storms, broken branches from a City tree may be placed at the curb within 24 hours after the storm. Please call DPW for collection by our Forestry team. If you have broken branches from a private tree, the property owner must break down the down branches for proper yard waste collection.
  • Christmas Trees are collected curbside on the same day as trash, recycle and compost collection during the first two weeks of January. Trees must be bare. No decorations. Do not bag.

Accepted Materials:

  • Leaves, Grass, Plants
  • Shrub Prunings & Twigs (no more than 1 inch in diameter and 3 feet in length)
  • Thick Limbs (3 tied bundles per week, no more than 3 feet in length and diameter) (to be removed by trash crews)
  • Pumpkins (pumpkins are also accepted in compost)

Unaccepted Materials:

  • No Trash
  • No Food
  • No Soil, Dirt, Sand, Rocks or Tree Stumps (call a private hauler)
  • No Invasive Plants: Certain invasive plants should be trashed, according to a special directive from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Do not put in compost or yard waste. Plants that must be trashed rather than collected as yard waste include: Kudzu, Black Swallow-Wort, Japanese Knotweed, Purple Loosestrife, Garlic Mustard, Oriental Bittersweet. Dispose of the entire plant. If you have a trash bag(s) of invasive plants, contact DPW in advance (617-349-4800) to help ensure the trash staff remove it.

To see how yard waste is processed, see here.

To go back to the main waste collections webpage, click here.


My yard waste was not picked up on my regular collection day

Yard waste must be set out by 7AM on your collection day, or after 6PM the night before.

Be sure yard waste stickers are facing the street and is visible (i.e. not behind trees, carts, cars, etc). Thank you for leaving your materials visible.

If your yard waste was missed, please report it by 9AM the following day. Please report it at CambridgeMA.Gov/311 (preferred) or leave a voicemail at 617-349-4800. Leave materials at the curb and pickup will be done by the end of the next collection day.

Sometimes, your yard waste may have received a rejection sticker due to unacceptable items, preparation or weight.

What do I do with yard waste after yard waste pick up ends for the season?

Please hold onto your yard waste until collection resumes April 1. Yard waste won’t rot or degrade much during the winter due to low temperatures.


Why is there an orange sticker on my yard waste?

Please avoid these common problems to ensure pickup of your yard waste:

No Plastic Bags for Yard Waste
Plastic bags will not decompose with your leaf and yard waste. Please note that rubbish or recycling crews will not pick up yard waste in plastic bags. 

No Dirt, Rocks or Large Tree Limbs for Yard Waste
You must call a private hauler for these materials.

Heavy Barrel or Bag of Yard Waste
Our drivers cannot lift heavy barrels or bags of yard waste. Usually heavy yard waste set-outs contain large amounts of wet leaves, excessive amounts of soil or roots, etc. Please divide this material into two bags or barrels and put it out for collection on your next collection day.

Page was last modified on 6/26/2024 4:32 PM
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