DSWA Omar collection station

Among the disposal options for yard waste are dropping it off at a DSWA collection station, such as the Omar station near Frankford. As of July 1, DSWA collection stations no longer sell collection station tickets, with credit card the only option for payment. Tickets with remaining punches will be accepted.

DNREC officials recently reminded residents that open burning of materials such as tree limbs, brush and branches is not allowed from May 1 through Sept. 30 — also known as ozone season — under the state’s annual open burning ban. Delaware’s annual ban prohibits all outdoor burning, with the exception of cooking fires, recreational campfires and ceremonial bonfires using firewood, which are permitted year-round.

Although burning yard waste may resume on Oct. 1, officials noted that burning always emits toxic substances, such as metals, acids and particulate matter. Those toxins can damage the lungs and hearts of healthy people but are especially dangerous for children, older people and people living with health conditions.

“DNREC encourages Delawareans to practice good stewardship of our natural resources by following the rules regarding when and what can be legally burned, and by considering alternatives to open burning, including composting or using yard waste disposal sites to divert this material from our landfills and keep our air clean and healthy for everyone to breathe,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin.

Burning grass clippings and leaves is illegal year-round. However, residents are being encouraged to consider starting a backyard compost pile to recycle leaves, grass clippings and certain types of kitchen scraps into a valuable resource. Using homemade or commercial containers can keep the process more organized. Inexpensive compost bins are available from the Delaware Solid Waste Authority and the University of Delaware Extension Offices.

Using compost offers many benefits for home gardens and back yards. Compost provides nutrients, adds beneficial organisms to soil, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, increases soil moisture retention and reduces the amount of organic waste sent to landfills. More information about backyard composting can be found at dnrec.dnrec.delaware.gov, including what can be added to a compost pile.

For residents looking to properly dispose of brush, branches and limbs, DNREC encourages using one of Delaware’s yard waste drop-off sites as an alternative to residential open burning, regardless of the time of year. More information about yard waste drop off sites, including locations and fees, can be found at dnrec.delaware.gov.

Residents may also contact their trash service to ask about yard-waste pickup options. Other options include letting cut branches dry out and renting or purchasing a small chipper to make garden mulch or using a mulching mower on small branches and twigs.

For those who choose to burn from Oct. 1 to April 30, residents are allowed to burn up to 27 cubic feet — or a stack about 3 feet tall, wide and deep — of cut or fallen limbs, dead branches, or shrubbery from their residence. Only up to this amount of yard waste may be burned at one time, and it must be burned between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. More information about residential open burning can be found at dnrec.delaware.gov.

Burning trash or garbage, construction and other debris, old tires and other materials considered toxic or hazardous, including leaves and grass clippings, is illegal at all times of year in Delaware. Tickets issued by the Delaware Natural Resources Police Environmental Crimes Unit for open burning violations are punishable by fines of $500 to $1,500, plus court costs.