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Recycling Plant Debris

Plant Debris Landfill Ban

Alameda County prohibits disposal of plant debris in landfills. If you can't use your plant debris on site for mulch or compost, put it in your green bin for recycling along with your food scraps.
Landscaping and gardening professionals, commercial and multifamily property owners and haulers can learn the rules about disposing of plant debris at

For a healthier lawn and garden, it's a great idea to keep most of your plant debris on your property.

Grass clippings can be left on the lawn after mowing, a technique known as grasscycling, so they decompose and release their nutrients into the soil. You can designate areas where fallen leaves can be left on the soil as mulch. If you have the space for a backyard compost bin, you can create your own rich fertilizer from leaves, plant trimmings, food scraps, and even many weeds.  

Reusing plant debris can do a world of good for your lawn and garden, including: 

  • Fostering living soils that contain high levels of organic matter
  • Improving soil structure and reducing compaction
  • Retaining topsoil
  • Creating healthier plants
  • Reducing the need for irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides
  • Restoring the soil's ability to absorb and filter water, reducing pollution and stormwater runoff into local creeks and the San Francisco Bay
  • Providing food and habitat for birds, insects and beneficial soil organisms.

Plant debris that you can't reuse should be put in your green bin. Commercial composting facilities compost plant debris and food scraps into rich compost used by landscapers, farmers, community gardens and home gardeners to create healthier soil. 

For how-to information on reusing plant debris and many other healthy gardening practices, visit our Gardening section.