Everything to Know Before Hiring for Yard Waste Removal

There’s no pressure to do it all: Hiring a yard waste removal service to clean up and haul away the debris frees up time and can save your back.

By Meghan Wentland | Published Apr 20, 2022 12:09 PM

Yard Waste Removal

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As the seasons change, homeowners face the recurring task of tidying up the yard. Leaves, grass clippings, garden prunings, and brush trimmings pile up quickly, and it’s easy to dismiss them and think, “I’ll get those to the dump next weekend.” But as every homeowner who has ever put off the task knows, one solid rainstorm on top of gathered yard waste creates a swampy muck that’s much more difficult to clean up.

There are many reasons to consider hiring out yard waste removal to someone else. The collection and removal can be physically demanding work that not everyone is up to. Disposal can be complicated based on local ordinances, and homeowners may not own a vehicle that can easily transport the debris. Some jobs are small enough to offer to the neighborhood high schooler, but it makes sense to hire a service that comes on a schedule to keep the yard in tiptop shape all year for larger jobs.

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The Cost of the Yard Waste Removal

The cost of yard debris removal will vary based on several factors, so it makes sense to take stock of what the project will entail before you begin comparing costs. First, it’s important to identify the work necessary to clean out the yard—the actual gathering of the debris, removal of trees, pruning of shrubs, and leaf blowing. If the only needed service is the haul away, meaning the homeowner has tidied the yard and brought the waste to the curb, the average price will be between $50 and $100 per load. If the cleanup itself is included in the cost, the average will run between $200 and $550, though this will depend on the season and the home’s area. For example, a fall cleanup in the southern or western part of the United States might entail a quick garden tidy. However, fall cleanup in the northeast could involve several weeks of leaf blowing, raking, and bagging. The rates will be tied to the amount of actual labor involved. For larger projects, such as removing tree debris after a tree is taken down, the removal will require additional heavy equipment such as chainsaws and wood chippers. Those jobs may considerably exceed the average range of cost.

What Can a Yard Waste Removal Service Haul Away?

Depending on where the waste is being taken, what constitutes yard waste can differ. Most local ordinances have specific parameters for yard waste disposal, and an experienced yard waste collection service will know the rules and regulations for haul away and disposal. In general, yard waste includes organic materials collected in cleaning up gardens and landscaping: grass clippings, leaves, and non-woody organic matter such as plants and prunings from small shrubs. Branch and tree clippings smaller than 4 inches in diameter are also accepted (though they may need to be cut to a particular length, often 48 inches or less, before disposal).

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What about the other matter that cleaning up a yard can produce? Gravel, sand, sod, rocks, and dirt are considered separate categories of waste. The local transfer station or dump may have disposal areas for these items, but separating the different types of waste for disposal may result in extra costs.

Some items often end up in yard waste that are not compostable, and their inclusion in disposed waste can result in rejection by a green waste disposal facility. These include balls and small yard toys, animal waste, plastic items, and treated wood (such as railroad ties and chemically treated ground-contact lumber). These items will spoil the compost and make it unusable, resulting in the batch of compost being transferred to a landfill. Checking through yard debris as it is raked, blown, or gathered will help keep these items from contaminating compostable yard waste.

yard waste removal

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Reasons to Hire a Yard Waste Removal Service

Several convincing reasons may sway even the DIY yard care aficionado to hire a service to remove yard waste. The first, quite simply, is that it’s more convenient. Collecting the yard debris, packaging it into tied bundles or paper bags for travel, acquiring the necessary license or town sticker to use the local transfer station, finding the hours that the station is open for drop- offs—that’s a lot of steps, and most of them aren’t considered leisure activities. It also takes a lot of time. Hiring a service will leave more time to enjoy the parts of gardening and landscaping that a homeowner actually enjoys.

Second, yard waste collection and disposal is hard work and not without danger. The reaching, chopping, and hauling is very physical work and involves extensive stretching, bending, and lifting, often from awkward angles. The people who are employed by waste removal services are accustomed to this kind of labor and know which tool to pick and how far is too far to reach off a ladder. They’re unlikely to find themselves curled up with a heating pad, Advil, and blister bandages all over their hands at the end of a long day of work.

Finally, a yard waste removal team is likely to do a better job than most homeowners. Even homeowners who begin their project with great gusto and accumulate a massive pile of debris will find their energy waning as they stare at their pile, knowing there are still hours of work ahead—and then they’ll start to cut corners. Debris may be left behind. Maybe the last two gardens don’t get cleaned out as carefully, or the bag of grass clippings ends up in the trash instead of at the dump, resulting in a hefty fine in many municipalities. A yard waste removal company knows how to balance its time and energy, and technicians work together to clean up and remove yard debris quickly and efficiently, leaving behind a tidy yard and moving the waste to the appropriate locations.

Yard Waste Removal

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DIY vs. Hiring a Professional Yard Waste Removal

Why not just do it yourself? Why spend good money hiring someone else to do a simple job like cleaning up the yard? This task is a part of homeownership, a code or honorable duty for some people. And for homeowners, it can be an excellent opportunity to spend time outdoors, tending to a part of the home that you love and a soothing oasis.

For others, however, it may be a job that they used to look forward to but now find too physically demanding. Still others may never have enjoyed it and dread it year after year. It’s a good idea to remember that hiring yard cleanup and waste removal doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing deal; professionals can be hired to complete the entire job, specific jobs that the homeowner finds too challenging, or just for the removal of debris that is already prepared and waiting at the curb. A homeowner’s needs may change from season to season based on what else is occupying their time, so hiring a service to completely clean up and haul away may make sense during a hectic period at work or after a new baby is born, while a few seasons later that same homeowner may only need help with removing some larger tree debris and the haul away.

Homeowners can reduce the amount of debris they need cleaned up by taking several steps. A compost pile or tumbler in the yard will reduce the amount of waste that needs removal to a startling degree. An attractive compost bin means there’s no odorous pile taking up the back corner of the yard, and the rich compost that develops will save money on fertilizer and soil the next season. Setting the mower to mulch grass clippings, rather than collecting and bagging them, provides two benefits: reduced yard waste to haul away and a concentration of nutrients at the grass’s roots that boost its growth.

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For those who truly love pruning, raking, and leaf blowing, it’s still worth considering hiring a pro to take care of some of the cleanup and haul away. Some tasks, such as cleaning gutters on a second-story roof or climbing a ladder with a chainsaw to remove a broken branch, are simply better left to experienced professionals who have safety measures in place. And if you don’t have a pickup truck, shoving leaf bags and brush into the trunk of a family sedan or getting sap all over the back of the minivan can create an additional mess to clean up. Hiring a yard waste removal crew to take care of these labor-intensive jobs will free up precious time to tackle other tasks, such as draining the outdoor faucets, cleaning out bird feeders, and getting outdoor furniture prepped for the warmer season or cleaned and stored for the winter.

Those who don’t enjoy this part of yard work may fret about the cost of hiring a service, but the fact is, the cost of hiring a team is minimal when weighed against the time and money most homeowners will need to spend doing the work themselves. Leaf bags, the new rake or leaf blower to replace the one that was broken last season, rope or twine to tie up branches, and sharper loppers to trim branches add up quickly. Plus, the hours and hours spent doing the work and then recovering from it may translate into an almost negligible cost. It’s certainly worth reaching out to some yard waste removal contractors for quotes on the jobs that need to be done before dismissing the concept of hiring someone as too expensive.

How to Find a Reputable Yard Waste Removal Company

Drive around the neighborhood during a seasonal change, and you’ll see all kinds of yard waste removal vehicles parked at the curb: shiny trucks with fancy logos, heavy-duty wood chippers and dump trucks, beat-up pickups with a magnet on the side, and high school kids shoving bags into their mom’s van. None of these are necessarily better or worse—those companies with the  shiny trucks may not do a better job than the kids, but they’re more likely to be insured. It’s important to be comfortable with the company you hire, so collect as much information as possible before you sign a contract.

  • Ask neighbors, family members, and local friends for recommendations.
  • Check that the companies are insured, bonded, permitted to dispose of waste, and licensed as required by the municipality.
  • Know what jobs need to be done before you begin requesting quotes. This will help keep the quotes even so they can be compared.
  • Get three quotes or more for an accurate idea of the average cost in the area.
  • Don’t automatically choose the lowest bid; check out the company’s reviews and reputation and ask for customer references.
  • Request a written contract for the work to be completed and the cost, along with a contingency if the work should be more than expected.

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Questions to Ask Your Local Yard Waste Removal Company

What do you need to know before hiring a yard waste removal company? Beyond what tasks they perform and how much it will cost, there are some other items you may wish to clarify.

  • Where will the waste go? If you’re concerned about green composting, you’ll want to ask if the contractor will take all the waste to a landfill or if it will be separated out by material type.
  • What kind of equipment will be necessary to complete the job? Will it do damage to my yard?
  • What is the project time frame? Will it add costs if you have to return on another day due to weather or equipment needs?
  • What happens if the weather changes your access to the yard waste? For example, if it snows before the cleanup is complete, will you return after the snow melts to finish?
Yard Waste Removal

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FAQs

Hiring someone to do part or all of the seasonal yard cleanup and waste removal can add time back into a homeowner’s life and reduce the hassle of transporting waste and the chance of blisters or a thrown-out back. There are quite a few considerations when choosing to hire a contractor for the job, but it’s often worth it. As you get started making this decision, make sure you’re on the same page as the contractor regarding terminology and plans. Here are a couple of the most frequently asked questions and their answers to point you in the right direction.

Q. What is the difference between brush and yard waste?

Some contractors will use these terms interchangeably, while others will distinguish between them in terms of cost. Brush is woody debris: branches trimmed from shrubs and trees. It must usually be trimmed to 48 inches in length and is limited to 4 inches in diameter, and it must be bound into bundles for municipal brush pickup. On the other hand, yard waste refers to plant material, leaves, and grass clippings. Some communities and waste collection services identify a third category for rocks, gravel, soil, and sod disposal. It’s important to clarify what the contractor means by these terms before hiring.

Q. How do I manage yard waste?

Homeowners can manage yard waste in several ways. Renting a dumpster is an option for large yards with lots of debris. On the other hand, all the waste in a dumpster will go directly to a landfill, so environmentally conscious homeowners may instead choose to take the waste (or have it hauled) to a local transfer station or composting dump. To find your local dumping site or a yard waste removal team, search for “yard waste disposal near me” or “yard waste removal near me” to find nearby options. Another option is to check your community’s yard waste pickup schedule and bring the yard waste to the curb on the appropriate days (usually on the same day the trash hauler comes to take the trash away). Many communities have specific requirements about how the waste is to be bagged or bundled and may only provide the service at certain times of the year, so check with the town. The easiest way to manage waste is to let someone else take care of it; after you total up the costs of bags, tools, and permits, the cost of hiring a waste removal service may seem minimal.

Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor

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