Many cities started leaf collection in mid-October in their communities. In some parts of the Midwest, leaf collection will extend into mid-December. In Dublin Ohio, a suburb of Columbus with a population of 41,751, household leaf collection is handled in a two-zone system. Residents can still bag leaves in biodegradable bags for weekly curbside yard waste pick-up on weeks when the city crews are not doing leaf collection in their neighborhood/zone. After December 8 in Dublin, leaves are to be placed in biodegradable paper yard waste bags or in a trashcan designated for yard waste only.

The suburb uses a variety of technology to monitor leaf pickup, says Bill Grubaugh, Dublin’s director of streets and utilities. “We still track our day-to-day leaf collection progress using paper route listings with street indexes. We denote the exact time we completed each street next to the street listing. Most of our trucks have GPS units installed in them so we can track their progress through the city while collecting leaves.”

In Dublin, GPS is used to verify that city trucks were on a particular roadway at a specific time and date in the event that there was some sort of dispute or concern generated from a resident, Grubaugh told GPN.
“All work and costs for the leaf program is documented in CityWorks via a work order,” says Grubaugh.  “We track our program costs each year through reports generated from CityWorks.”

On the cost front, Dublin reported the following costs for the 2012 leaf collection season:

Labor  $109,768
Equipment  $129,857
Material  $73
Total $239,698

Grubaugh is hoping that 2013 leaf collection expenses “will be somewhere near the same costs” that the city paid in 2012.

To handle leaf collection, Dublin relies on several pieces of equipment. “We incorporate the use of five ODB (Old Dominion Brush) 30-yard self-contained leaf vacuum units pulled by our 2-ton dump trucks as well as four ODB pull-behind units for our narrower roadways in our residential areas. These are also pulled by our 2- and 2.5-ton dump trucks,” says Grubaugh. Go here for more information on Dublin, Ohio’s leaf pickup program.

In Fairview Park, Ohio, leaf collection ranks high as a municipal task. According to Fairview Park city hall watchers, not many years ago an incumbent mayor lost his reelection bid because voters got tired of seeing huge mounds of leaves on tree lawns when they filled out their November ballots. In that election year, heavy, wet snowfalls delayed and deterred leaf collection crews. (Full disclosure, the author used to cover Fairview Park city council meetings as a correspondent for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.)  

For Robert Berner, director of public service and development in Fairview Park, leaf pickup ranks just below snow plowing in terms of importance to residents. The city's 2013 leaf collection started Oct. 21.

"Mayor Eileen Patton is pretty adamant that we provide these services (leaf collection and disposal) for a safe and efficient community," Berner said. "They are a naturally occurring phenomenon every year and you just have to deal with them."

Last year, Fairview Park reported to the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Solid Waste District that it collected 1,902 tons during its eight to 10-week collection run.

Equipment to get the job done

Grasshopper PowerVac collection systems for Grasshopper True ZeroTurn mowers handle a variety of tasks, including leaf-collecting, grass-catching and debris-removing on turf.

Every PowerVac features a rear-mounted collector for zero-turn maneuvering and a deck-driven vacuum that keeps lawns looking well-maintained. The equipment makes a clean sweep through virtually any lawn debris, removing wet grass and high-moisture leaves, pine straw, dethatching debris, small sticks, seed pods and acorns, paper, litter and tough weeds.

The force of the cutting blades discharges clippings and debris directly into the trash-ingesting steel impeller, reducing and compacting debris in the vacuum collector. The unit offers clog-free performance. In the photo, a PowerVac collection system, with a nylon mesh bag, handles leaf pickup.

In the video, a PowerVac collection system for Grasshopper True ZeroTurn mowers collects leaves and debris from turf.