Leaf clean-up is piling up in East Grand Rapids

Posted at 8:43 PM, Nov 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-17 20:43:50-05

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Fall is a beautiful season in West Michigan, but it's also one of the messiest. With leaves piling up everywhere, you may have wondered 'Where do they go?'

The answer in East Grand Rapids is a giant leaf pile behind public works. But they don't get there all by themselves.

Leaves on street

“We’re out every day Monday through Friday," explains Doug La Fave, Assistant City Manager for East Grand Rapids.

Public Works crews are out cruising the streets of East Grand Rapids, scooping up leaf pile after leaf pile. It's a seemingly never-ending task in the fall, crews even work overtime to get all the leaves picked up.

Jeff Stults, who is the crew leader for East Grand Rapids Public Works, says getting the leaves up before the first snow is key.

“It helps with snow removal and it helps keep the catch basins clean. If we don’t pick them up and they stay on the street, rain will plug the catch basin which will in turn lead to flooded streets.”

If you've been putting off your yard work, La Fave says you'll pay the price come spring, “You end up with that leaf pasty mess in the yard, and that’s going to be more difficult for a resident to get up.”

That's why the City of East Grand Rapids makes leaf pick up easy, all residents have to do is rake them to the curb, which officials say beats filling up lawn bags like the people in neighboring cities.

“It’s a very popular service with our residents," says La Fave.

So popular that it fills up fast.

“We do haul out about 30,000 cubic yards of yard waste material in a given year. And about half that comes out during that defined leaf collection.”

All the leaves are piled up behind East Grand Rapids Public Works and then hauled out to a landfill contractor who recycles them into fertilizer.

“They may end up coming back to their property depending on what product they buy and where they buy it from,” La Fave said.

The last day to add leaves to the big pile in the City of East Grand Rapids is December 9th.