Autumn’s changing foliage may be beautiful, but those falling leaves can wreak havoc come winter. If you fail to take care of the leaves in your yard, the resulting build-up can lead to flooded streets when precipitation falls from the sky. What’s more, if leaves clog up your drain gutters, your home could sustain significant damage. Destruction from water and ice is more common than you might think. In fact, 20% of all insurance claims are related to some kind of water damage. Fortunately, residents in East Grand Rapids won’t have to worry as much about these damages, as they’re getting some much-needed help with their leaf cleanup duties.

The Public Works crews of East Grand Rapids work every week day to clear the streets of seemingly endless leaf piles. They often work overtime to ensure that all the piles are picked up. Not only does the service help homeowners keep their lawns looking clean, but it ensures that the streets remain traversable. Crew leader Jeff Stults says that the leaf removal helps to keep 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,” says Stults.

Unlike those in neighboring cities who have to put their leaves in lawn bags, all East Grand Rapids residents have to do is rake their leaf piles to the curb. Understandably, it’s an immensely popular service. Space in the leaf program fills up quickly.

Not only does leaf removal help in the fall, but removing the leaves is vital when the first flakes of snow fall. If leaves are left under the snow, it makes for a much bigger mess come spring. By cleaning leaves out of their gutters on a regular basis, residents can prevent lawn mess, foundation damage, and ice dam formation. Although Public Works does not cover gutter cleaning, the program is a good reminder for homeowners not to put off leaf removal at their residence.

Public Works is also performing a conservatory service with their leaf pickup program. Nearly half of the 30,000 cubic yards of lawn waste material Public Works hauls out every year is just from defined leaf collection. All the leaves are brought to a landfill contractor who then recycles them to make fertilizer. Assistant City Manager Doug La Fave emphasizes that residents who participate in the program may see their leaves again in a different format: “They may end up coming back to their property depending on what product they buy and where they buy it from.”

East Grand Rapids will continue to make a giant pile of leaves behind the public works building until December 9th. After that, the leaves will be hauled off and be made into new materials that will give back to the earth.

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