Easiest/cheapest way to get rid of large yard waste?

jey760February 23, 2010

We recently bought a house with a seriously neglected yard. We are basically ripping everything out of the front yard to make room for a veggie garden (as it's the only area that gets any sun.)

Most of what we're ripping out are evergreen bushes, and there are a LOT of them. There are a couple really large ones about 4' in diameter and 10' tall; the rest are just a couple feet high, maybe 6' wide, and run about 30' around the front yard. And that's not even mentioning all the trees we've trimmed and the huge laurel that we're slowly cutting back...

Our budget is pretty maxed, so I'm trying to figure out the cheapest way to get rid of this stuff. I can have the waste management service bring a dumpster out, but that will run me a minimum of ~$300. I can rent a shredder/chipper for about $100/day which is much cheaper, but my other question is- would you want to use evergreen bushes as mulch, or would that be too acidic to put on a garden bed? Also, if I go that route, I'm going to spend a LOT of time cutting them up into small enough pieces to go into the chipper.

I already have a few piles of other large yard waste (branches from trees and an overgrown laurel) in my backyard, so there isn't any more space to just let this stuff sit on the property and rot.

Any other ideas that I'm missing on how to get rid of this mess?


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jonas302(central mn 4)

Its going to take a while in the chipper make sure its a big one of you go that route

It acually might be cheaper to call a tree service to chip that on there way home it would take no time if you had it all cut

You could maybe rent a truck at home depot or somewhere to haul if your city has a yard waste dump site

    Bookmark   February 23, 2010 at 7:42PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Can you rent a trailer and haul it away?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2010 at 7:58PM
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Are you allowed to burn? That would be the cheapest/easiest way.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2010 at 8:03PM
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Just tossing out some ideas:
== Depending on soil type ... and terrain of your lot... you may use an electric chain saw to cut the larger pieces into "blocks" to make the wall of a raised bed or to terrace a slope. These will last many years as they slowly cook down into compost.
== There is a picture on Len's Garden Page showing how he built a raised bed and filled it part way with yard trimmings. http://www.lensgarden.com.au/straw_bale_garden.htm
== While not having the large amount of trimmings that you describe, over the years I've buried largish trimmings in my pathways -- it cooks down in about a year and then I dig it up, sift out primo compost soil to add to my terraced beds...and add more trimmings to that section of path. I've been at this for many years, as finding soil to fill my terraces is never ending. If you have a flat yard, that won't be your problem, but burying these trimmings works very well for me. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2010 at 8:03PM
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Thanks for the ideas! I'm not sure about burning- probably not allowed here. Plus, there's just so much that it would take forever.

I thought about renting a truck from Home Depot, but you have to pay per load at the garbage transfer station, so that might end up getting expensive too (it would be quite a few truckloads.)

I really like the idea of making a wall with the wood, but unfortunately it's all small, twisty branches. Which also makes it hard to easily cut down into smaller bits (for putting into a chipper.)

I hadn't thought about a tree service chipping it for me... will have to check that out!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2010 at 9:53PM
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Hey Jey,
I think you missed on one suggestion,Jonas has the right idea,you haul it to the city or county's yard waste site..
Call the city and ask where it is,while you are there dropping it off,you can usually pick up some bulk compost that the city makes with all of that yard waste, so your truck won't be empty on the way back,you will kill two birds with one stone.....

    Bookmark   February 23, 2010 at 11:39PM
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Nope- I caught that one. That was the garbage "transfer station" that I was referring to, where I would have to pay per load, so using a standard size truck (the only kind offered at Home Depot/Lowe's afaik) it would be a lot of trips and a lot of $$$. They take garbage, recycle, and yard waste at the transfer stations, and as far as I can find the county does not offer compost to the public. (King County/Seattle- if anyone wants to prove me wrong! :)

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 12:39AM
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Monte(6-NE NJ)

I think that cost wise your pretty much snookered with all the options presented so far.

Cost wise they all come out pretty close at least in my part of the world.

The deciding thing for me is do you want to keep the chippings?

If so then I would opt for renting. You can rent some very robust chippers (tow behind units) that can handle pretty large diameter stuff.

The rental fee is steep though. $300-$400 a day potentially.

Just so were on the same page the link below has the type of unit I'm talking about. Many H-D's and Lowes rent these by me as well as other outlets.

You may not need to trim things down as much as you may think.

A unit like this can handle up to 12" diameter material.

Also depending on your access you can position it so the chip pile is located where you want it.

Your initial cost may be high but you will wind up with a pretty substantial pile of "utility" mulch.

Not the best, but good for pathways or weed suppression in unused corners of the yard while your planning out your moves.

If a service comes in and does it they will likely drag everything out to the street and shoot the chips into their truck.

They can dump it out again but maybe not where you want or need it to be.

A 20 foot wide-6 foot high pile of chips on the front lawn takes a fair bit of effort to move.

Don't ask me how I know this.

Again I can hardly see a service doing this for much less than a couple of hundred either.

Most tree crews are 3-4 people and they all need to get paid plus the tipping fees if you don't want the chips.

Dumpster is a good option if you just want it all gone.

You drag it all out, they pick it up, done.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tow Behind Chipper

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 5:41AM
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Have you considered selling the chipped material if you rent a chipper or have it chipped? You could recover at least part of your cost, as well as keeping only what you want to use. Just make sure any buyers understand you are not delivering it, and they are responsible for helping load it.
Good luck, and your yard will look lovely after all your hard work.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 7:34AM
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I had a similar problem when I moved into my house last year. I didn't want to burn and didn't have the money to haul it to the dump. At the same time I needed a fence for around my garden. I came up with the idea of using garden fencing and cedar post to make a fence; the fencing runs on both sides of the 4 inch garden post so there is a gap in between. Every time I trim a bush, tree, or anything I drop it in between the fencing. It is a game with my daughter when we are outside and pick up twigs and add to the fence. Eventually it will break down but in the mean time it provides an barrier to the garden. We add everything from leaves, twigs, large branches, saw dust, and tree bark.

This may not be the best overall solution for you but it worked for me and might offer an idea for you. Before you cut down or pull out the bushes, you could offer them on craigslist or your local freecycle group to see if anyone wanted them and would be willing to dig them out.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 9:00AM
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Jey - I'm local too and since I do landscaping professionally, disposing of debris (and a LOT of it sometimes) is a pretty routine occurrence. Here's what I'd suggest: grab a copy of the Little Nickle (at any 7-11) and call a few hauling services listed there for estimates. Be able to supply them with an approximate size of the pile you need to dispose of, although they should come by personally to give you an estimate. And that will include dump fees. They will take it to a yard waste recycling station or to Pacific Topsoils, as that is the cheapest way to dispose of it for them also. At least you'll be assured the stuff is being recycled. 1-800-Got-Junk works too but they may be more expensive.

An alternative is to contact Pacific Topsoils. They also recycle yard waste. And they rent containers by the day with a delivery and pick-up fee that is a lot less than the county. And they have yards all over the county, so should be convenient to you.

And yes, all of King County's yard and kitchen waste is recycled into compost - Cedar Grove Composting. But they don't give it away for free :-) I've broached this subject here a couple of times, but the recycling process and Cedar Grove in particular is cutting edge and a very large and high standard commercial composting operation. Certified organic Cedar Grove Compost is sold all over the county at nurseries, garden centers, groceries and box stores.

Unfortunately, unless you have the means yourself via a chipper or truck, disposing of a large pile of garden debris is going to cost in this area. btw, King County transfer stations charge by the weight not the truck load, so other than a bit extra for gas, multiple trips to the recycling transfer center will not cost any more than one, single, massive load. Yard waste is $82.50 per ton. (good to know so the hauling guys don't gouge you, although they should be paying a lower, commercial rate).

Here is a link that might be useful: Pacific Topsoils recycling

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 9:52AM
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Off topic, but $82.50 per ton?! My chintzy town only gives me $33.50 per metric tonne! Methinks some re-negotiation is in order.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 10:21AM
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Chip that material and use it for mulch. That material will not significantly change your soils pH. Keep in mind that all of that material has nutrients that you would be removing from your soil and throwing away if you had it hauled away.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 10:42AM
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Jey here is my 2-cents worth. IMHO the fastest and easiest way is to burn it, if allowed. I would cut it all now and leave it in place to dry/cure for a couple months. Around May it should burn pretty cleanly. Build a centrally located " campfire" and start feeding. I bet it would all be gone at the end of the day! As far as chipping, around here you can hire an independant tree trimmer by himself with a chipper for $100/hour. They will spit the chips in a pile, broadcast them, or haul away for additional fees. A lot of material can be chipped in an hour if you and a friend pull the material to the chipper! However beware that a lot of small material takes longer to chip-up. It is hard to feed into the chipper. Hope this helps and good luck.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 10:45AM
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Thanks for all the ideas! I called Pacific Topsoil, and their container charges are about the same as Waste Management, otherwise it's $20.50/cu.yd. to bring it to them. Seems like that is definitely not the cheapest option. I've seen some hauling ads on Craigslist, so I might call around today and see how much they would charge me.

I really like the idea of selling the mulch to recoup some of my costs on the chipper! A chipper will really be a pain, since I would have to spend a lot of time cutting these into chipper-sized pieces... but it looks like it might be the cheapest option so far, especially if I can sell some mulch.

Or maybe I'll just keep all the mulch and do the pathways in between my raised beds with it... hmm

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 12:42PM
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gardengal48- I just checked again with the transfer station. They told me for my closest station (Renton), yard waste is considered garbage so it's $17.25 per entrance/load, which covers up to 320lbs and then it's charged by weight beyond that. If I go down to the Enumclaw station, I can get a reduced yard waste rate of $13.25 per load, up to 340lbs. They suggested I try the South Park Seattle station, and from their recording it sounds like they charge $100/ton for yard waste.

I guess if I could find a good size truck and tie stuff down REALLY well, I could probably get it in a few loads.... which at Enumclaw would end up being less than $50 total if I'm understanding the rates correctly.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 12:57PM
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No outdoor refuse burning is allowed anywhere in King County. And I doubt you'll find many takers to purchase your mulch, since tree trimming and landscape companies give away the same sort of stuff for free. That is frequently their way of disposing of large quantities of chipped yard waste in the most economical manner.

Renting a professional grade chipper may be the least expensive way to go, if rather time consuming, as long as you have enough room to spead the stuff. Or you can always advertise it for free on Craigslist to anyone who wants to haul it away.

You are going to be out of pocket any way you look at it so just a matter of what will be the least expensive option for you.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 1:06PM
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To me, this is a no-brainer question. The answer is; chip it. Pile the chippings into a neat heap and make sure they stay damp. This fall, you'll want to spread the chippings onto the paths around your garden. The partially composted material will suppress weeds.

I have a chipper and the fresh chippings are my best compost material. If you chip the material in the early spring it will be at its maximum beneficial condition.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 1:08PM
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