Does your town pick up the leaves you’ve spent hours raking into neat little piles, or do they expect you to handle that wonderful little chore?

If they do provide a leaf pick-up service, will they get the leaves with a vacuum truck from your lawn or the street, or do they require you to bag them?

In New Jersey, there are many different approaches to this challenging situation.

“Not every town necessarily will pick up leaves, although most do. For most, it’s part of their overall storm water management plan,” said Mike Cerra, the assistant executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.

Cerra says leaf pick-up service is provided locally in most parts of the Garden State to make sure sewer drains don’t get clogged.

He said for towns that do pick up leaves for residents, different rules apply.

“Some municipalities provide the service through Public Works, and they might pick up the leaves either in bags, or left in the street and swept up,” said Cerra.

So where do all the leaves go every autumn?

Some towns will deliver them to a county facility for composting, some hire a private firm to haul them away, and others will take their to their own composting facility.

Cerra says they're not burned or dumped into a landfill.

“They’re biodegradable so they break down overall over time.”

He added local officials make different decisions about their leaves, depending on budgetary concerns.

“In some parts of the state it can be a high concentration of your overall waste pickup; in some communities it could be as high as 30 percent, maybe even higher in small communities,” he said.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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