Guelph to start bi-weekly yard waste pickup this week but here's why you may want to wait

This year, Guelph will pickup yard waste every other week from spring until fall. But one expert says people should hold off on cleaning out their gardens too early because pollinators and other beneficial insects overwinter in hollow stems and the soil.

'Delay any spring garden clean up as much as you feel you can,' pollinator expert says

New this year, Guelph will collect yard waste throughout the spring, summer and fall. The first pickups start this week for people with grey carts, but one pollinator expert says people may want to wait to clean out their gardens because pollinators and other beneficial insects are likely overwintering in hollow stems, under leaves and in the soil. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

The City of Guelph will begin collecting yard waste on grey bins week starting this week.

But one local pollinator expert says people may want to hold off on cleaning out gardens just yet.

Nigel Raine is an environmental sciences professor and the Rebanks Family Chair in Pollinator Conservation at the University of Guelph. He says cleaning up gardens too early could impact insects, including pollinators, that overwinter in hollow stems, under piles of leaves or in the soil.

"Basically the best advice is to delay any spring garden clean up as much as you feel you can. The later this is done the more chance insects will have had to emerge from hibernation," he said.

He noted piles of leaves are a preferred spot for butterflies, ladybugs and other beneficial insects and it's best if people wait until it's consistently warm, about 15 C or above, for a week before clearing them.

"About 70 per cent of Canadian bee species nest in the ground, so consider how much of the soil you need to cover with mulch. Dry, sandier, well drained areas of bare soil are often preferred nesting sites for these ground-nesting solitary bee species," he said.

Yard waste pickup from spring to fall

In the past, Guelph has done yard waste pickup in the spring and fall, but only for a few weeks. Otherwise people were allowed to top up their green bins with yard waste.

This year, collection will be on grey bin weeks and will continue through to the fall.

Yard waste can be put in paper bags, placed in a labelled container, or bundled and tied. Unlike in past years, people are asked not to put any yard waste in the green bin.

The city says the following items are allowed in yard waste:

  • Hedge trimmings.
  • Woody plants (e.g. vines or rose bushes).
  • Brush, branches and tree limbs with a diameter less than 5 centimetres (2 inches) and no longer than 1 metre (3 feet).
  • Leaves (although the city says they're better left on the lawn).

The city notes grass clippings are not accepted in green carts or in yard waste collection.

Instead, it's recommended people mulch grass clippings and leave them on the lawn, "for added moisture and nutrients for your soil."


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