As the autumn leaves fall, the Lake Hopatcong Commission offers the following reminders to homeowners within the watershed on how to properly dispose of leaves and vegetative waste. You may wonder if a single home’s leaves have an impact on the lake, in reality it is the cumulative effect of everyone working together for the health of our lake that makes a difference.
Leaves should never be blown or raked directly into Lake Hopatcong. Each of the four municipalities around the lake passed ordinances that prohibit disposal of leaves in waterways. Leaves are organic and consist of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. These are exactly the same components that help aquatic plants and algae thrive in our lakes. When leaves fall off trees and decay, they release those nutrients back into the environment. Organic material such as leaves take a long time to decompose at the bottom of the lake where low oxygen levels slow down the decomposition. Several inches of accumulated decomposing leaves turn into “muck” on the lake bottom. Putting leaves in the water is like fertilizing our lake for next year’s algae growth.
Please DO NOT:
- Blow or rake leaves directly into Lake Hopatcong, nearby drainage ditches, streams, streets or storm drains.
- Pile leaves close to the lake where wind will likely carry leaves into the water.
Instead consider the following environmentally friendly options:
- If you have lawn where the leaves fall, you can leave the leaves where they fall. Leaves provide winter cover and insulation for pollinators and other important invertebrates. If you can’t leave your whole lawn covered, consider allowing your planting beds to remain covered over the winter months. For the remainder of your lawn you might consider mulching the leaves in place with a power lawn mower.
- Compost your leaves. This can be as simple as putting leaves into a pile. Create your compost pile away from the lake and where leaves won’t blow into the lake over the winter. To speed the decomposition of the leaves into compost, you can use a compost bin or occasionally turn and water the area. This will eventually produce a beneficial soil additive that can be spread on lawn or garden areas.
- Allow your municipality/county to compost your leaves for you. Each of the four municipalities around Lake Hopatcong offer vegetative waste pickup. For information on your municipality see the list below.
Vegetative waste, including grass clippings and leaves, may not be disposed in the regular municipal solid waste collection. Leaves may be disposed of by placing them in biodegradable brown bags and transporting them to the municipal collection center or placing them curbside on dates designated by the Borough Administrator for collection. Brush or limbs will not be collected, but brush or limbs up to a four-inch diameter can delivered to the municipal collection center.
The Borough of Hopatcong shall provide curbside collection of leaves during the months of APRIL and MAY and from OCTOBER 15th through DECEMBER 10th. Only LEAVES shall be accepted. Branches, twigs, grass clippings, rocks or other vegetative matter shall not be accepted. Leaves are required to be placed in biodegradable brown paper bags only. Leaves in proper bags as detailed above may be brought directly to the Hopatcong Recycling Center. Brush no wider than 4” in diameter will be accepted at the recycling center. Hopatcong Residents can only utilize the recycling center. No contractors allowed. Must show proof of residency.
All grass, brush, and leaves will be collected weekly, on your regular trash day, in either paper bags, containers (labeled as vegetative waste) or brush tied in bundles beginning the last week of March and ending the third week of December.
Grass and leaves are collected curbside only in brown paper yard bags or clearly marked containers. A limit of 50 bags of leaves will be collected weekly during regularly scheduled collection times. Compost material in plastic bags will not be collected.
Brush/branches must be tied in bundles & less than 3 inches in diameter. Yard waste is collected on the same day as trash/recycling. Grass, brush and leaves cannot be mixed together.
Vegetative Waste (Leaves and Grass Only): Vegetative Waste pick-up is provided on a weekly basis, collected curbside every Wednesday beginning April through December. Vegetative Waste may be in a trash can or container, or biodegradable paper bags (required by the Morris County Transfer Station). Paper bags may be purchased at Home Depot, Shop-Rite, etc. See Borough Newsletter/Calendar for beginning and end dates. No Plastic Bags! CONTAINERS NO LARGER THAN 32 GALLONS.
Please note that the schedule is subject to change. It is advisable that all waste is placed on the sidewalk by 5:00 a.m. on the day of pickup.
Vegetative waste is picked up on Wednesdays beginning the first Wednesday in April (4/2/2021) and continues through the second Wednesday in December (12/10/2021). Two bags or cans of grass, leaves or brush may be placed curbside for pickup on Wednesday. Contractor will not pick up oversized landscaper barrels.
For six weeks in the spring and six weeks in the fall residents may place and unlimited amount of vegetative waste to the curb for pick up. After the six weeks is over, the contractor will pick up only two bags. There is no vegetative waste pick up during the week of the Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day holiday.