Leaf & Yard Waste Composting
Maryland Environmental Service operates composting facilities for Montgomery County and Prince George's County. Yard waste (including grass, leaves, brush and Christmas trees) is delivered to the facilities, composted and sold as the popular soil amendment Leafgro®.
Prince George's County
Prince George's County
manages the Western Branch Composting Facility and contracts with MES to operate the facility in Upper Marlboro, MD. Yard waste (including grass clippings, leaves, brush, small branches and Christmas trees), is collected from approximately 158,000 households in the County and delivered to the facility. Once the yard waste is delivered, it is ground, placed in windrows and processed into compost. The compost, known as Leafgro®
, is sold to wholesalers in bulk. Residents may buy Leafgro® from retailers.
Ground yard waste is moved into long narrow piles known as windrows. In the Fall, windrows are comprised primarily of leaves with grass added in the Spring. The active composting phase requires both leaves and grass. Windrow composting is most effective when the carbon to nitrogen ratio is 25 parts carbon to one part nitrogen, the temperature ranges between 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the moisture is between 45-55 pecent and the oxygen is less than 5 percent.
Windrows are turned using a Scarab windrow turner to accelerate the composting process. Frequency of turning depends on environmental conditions. In general, windrows are turned more frequently during the Spring and Summer (approximately two turns per week). Depending on the weather, the rows of yard waste may require manual watering. Normally, our area receives enough rainfall and temperatures are moderate enough to avoid manual watering. However, in drought conditions or extremely hot weather, watering becomes necessary. The windrow composting process takes approximately nine months to complete.
The material is then moved to a curing pile where it will continue to decompose for approximately three months. Once this process is complete, the compost is spread in a thin layer on the pad to dry. Next, the material is screened to remove all particles larger than 3/8 inch.
The final product is a dark humus-like soil amendment, which is marketed as Leafgro® by MES.
MES has a network of retailers which sell the Leafgro® compost. On an annual basis, MES sells 50,000 cubic yards of Leafgro® from the County's facility to wholesalers. Revenue from the sale of this material is returned to the County to offset the cost of the composting operation.
Tours of the Prince Georges County Yard Waste Facility are available to the public. For tour information please call 1-888-214-8687 between 8:00am and 3:00pm.
Special Events and Attractions
Prince George's County sponsors a mulch giveaway in the spring, usually in April, to provide an opportunity for citizens and residents to receive free mulch. The mulch for this event is derived from the Christmas trees that are collected or dropped off for recycling. The mulch giveaway is held in conjunction with Earth Day. For more information and specific dates for the next mulch giveaway, check the local paper, County website, local cable stations or call the Recycling Section at 301-883-5045.
County citizens and residents are invited to tour the Visitor's Center located at the Western Branch Composting Facility. Through the informational displays, visitors will learn about the composting process at the facility, the many recycling programs offered by the County and backyard composting. To schedule a tour of the Western Branch Composting Facility and the Visitors' Center, please call 888-214-8687.