Yard Waste


Image of green bin and yard waste containersLeaf and yard waste, including grass clippings, will no longer be accepted in green bins

Effective April 1, 2019 Leaf and yard waste, including grass clippings will not be accepted in green bins. The Central Composting Facility voluntarily closed in June 2018 to address odour concerns. To assist in re-starting the facility and stay within the new reduced capacity, the City is asking residents to stop using their green bin for leaf and yard waste including grass clippings.

Place all yard waste, including grass clippings, in a brown paper yard waste bag or an open top rigid reusable container marked with a free yard waste sticker. Yard waste stickers cannot be placed on green bins or blue boxes.

Green bins should only be used for food scraps and soiled paper products like napkins and pizza boxes. Learn more about what goes in the green bin.

Residents can put out an unlimited amount of leaf and yard waste each week alongside their garbage, recycling and green bins. Given our collection crews use different trucks to collect different materials at varying times during the day, all materials should be at the curb before 7 am on collection day to ensure residents don’t miss one of the trucks.

Yard waste includes natural things that decompose or breakdown to become compost. Residents should place their yard waste in a brown paper bag, or other open top rigid reusable container, preferably marked with a City of Hamilton yard waste sticker. Leaf and yard waste is taken to an outdoor facility where it is turned into compost.

Residents can pick up City of Hamilton yard waste stickers at any Municipal Service Centre or Recreation Centre.

Large loads of yard waste can be taken to a Community Recycling Centre. There is no cost to drop off yard waste at a Community Recycling Centre for residents of Hamilton if it comes from your home. There is a cost if the yard waste comes from a business.

The City encourages residents to leave their grass clippings on their lawns to reduce the amount of grass being picked up at the curb, and provide food and nutrients to worms and grass. Read more on Grasscycling below. Residents who don’t wish to leave their grass clippings on their lawns can place grass with their leaf and yard waste.

Learn about what goes in yard waste

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Yard waste tips

  • Drill holes into the sides and bottom of your open top rigid reusable containers to allow drainage and air circulation. Remove lid before placing out for collection.
  • Put yard waste in a brown paper bag, or other open top rigid reusable container, preferably marked with a City of Hamilton yard waste sticker.
  • Cardboard boxes, recycling boxes and green bins are NOT acceptable containers for leaf and yard waste including grass.
  • Paper yard waste bags, can be purchased from local stores. 
  • Roll down the tops of your yard waste bags to keep contents dry.
  • Use paper bags instead of plastic bags.
  • Bundles (for brush & twigs) must be tied with string.
  • Brush should be tied in bundles no longer than 1.2m (4ft) and .75m (2.5ft) in diameter. Individual branches can’t be larger than 7cm (2.5in) in diameter.
  • Do not put out branches that are more than 7 cm (or 2 ½ in) in diameter.  These can be dropped off at Community Recycling Centres.
  • Keep each bag or bundle or can of yard waste less than 23 kg (or 50 lbs).
  • Put your yard waste bags or cans a few feet away from your blue boxes and garbage bags or cans on the curb.
  • Do not let branches stick out of your yard waste bags.
  • Do not rake yard waste and leaves onto the roadway. These create dangerous driving conditions and clog up storm sewer catch basins.
  • Remove decorations and candles from pumpkins before placing with your yard waste. Cut large pumpkins into smaller pieces before placing in your yard waste bag/container.
  • Do not put your Christmas tree in a plastic bag. Remove lights, tinsel and ornaments from your Christmas tree.

Yard waste stickers

At this time, please discard of your yard waste in paper yard waste bags or other clearly marked open-top reusable rigid container instead of the green bin. City of Hamilton yard waste stickers for yard waste containers can be picked up at Municipal Service Centres or Recreation/Community Centres (excluding arenas).

Yard waste bag and bin

Do not place yard waste stickers on Blue Boxes or Green Bins.


  • Grasscycling does not cause 'thatch'. Thatch is a tight layer of stems and roots that is found between the growing grass and the soil surface. Thatch is not caused by the blade clippings from grasscycling.
  • Grasscycling does not spread lawn disease. Watering, fertilization and mower blade sharpness affect lawn disease more than grasscycling.
  • Grass clippings provide food for worms. Worms are healthy for your lawn and naturally aerate your soil.
  • Grasscycling should not leave ugly looking grass clippings on your lawn. Grass clippings can not be seen if your lawn is cut properly. Most people who grasscycle find that their clippings disappear within three days after cutting their lawn.
  • Leaving grass clippings on your lawn does not make the grass turn brown. Grass clippings add nutrients back into the soil to help make your lawn healthy and green.
  • Cut your grass often. During the spring and early summer you should cut your grass every four to five days. When growth is slower in the late summer and fall you can cut your grass about once per week.
  • Don't cut grass more than one third of its height. No more than 2.5 cm (or one in) should be cut at any one time. If the grass is long, cut off a little bit and then lower the blade and cut off a little bit more rather cutting it all off at once.
  • Make sure your lawnmower blade is sharp.
  • Keep the blade height of your mower at about 6 to 7.5 cm (or 2 ½ to 3 in).
  • Grasscycling works best when the grass is dry. Cutting wet grass or taking too much off at one time can cause grass clumping. If you get a bit of clumping, try mowing the area again from a different direction to break up the clumps.
  • Leaves take longer to break down than grass clippings. You can rake and collect your leaves and put them in a paper yard waste bag for collection. Leaves can also be used as mulch in other parts of your garden. 
  • Grass clippings are  great for your backyard composter. Don't add too many at once because they can become smelly. Allow them to dry in the sun and then add them into your composter in thin layers.

If you see a bright orange “oops! Sticker” on your yard waste bag or can after the collection truck has come by, it means there are items in your yard waste that don’t belong.

You will get an Oops! sticker if you put these things with your yard waste:

  • Artificial trees and plants
  • Dirt
  • Rocks
  • Sod
  • Tree stumps
  • Wood (lumber)

There are currently no scheduled yard waste drop off dates. Please bring your yard waste to any of our Community Recycling Centres free of charge.

Residents are responsible for emptying yard waste from containers, vehicles and trailers into the designated area. Please bring assistance and/or the appropriate tools if required.