Live Green and Earn Points


English | Spanish

Because You Asked: How Can I Recycle Underbrush?

By Recyclebank |

Don’t just toss yard trimmings and fallen leaves in your garbage. They’re bad news if left in a landfill, and they have valuable uses in gardening.


Dear Recyclebank: How can I recycle underbrush? –Harry Dill

Dear Harry: There are two main options for responsibly recycling your underbrush and grass clippings. If you want to donate your underbrush, many municipalities, such as Phoenix, AZ, provide yard waste pickup for residents. The underbrush is then composted or recycled. Note: Yard trimmings that are thrown into a landfill have the unfortunate bi-product of producing the potent greenhouse gas methane, making recycling that much more important. Keeping your yard trimmings out of the garbage is the right thing to do.

If you choose to recycle your underbrush on your own, you’ll want to designate a space in your yard where you can place it. Leaves, bark, branches, and twigs, along with pruning from trees and grass clippings, offer a rich collection of formally living ingredients you can recycle into valuable compost and mulch.

Composting — the decomposition of underbrush and backyard trimmings — provides biologically active matter, which conditions and offers nutrients to the soil. Composted underbrush and yard trimmings can be mixed in with garden soil prior to planting. When composting, remember to turn the pile; if the pile is damp, add dark stalks or leaves, conversely, if the pile is too dry, simply add water to keep the pile moist.

Mulch — the suppression of weeds — not only moderates soil temperatures and maintains moisture, it also conserves water, and allows a porous surface, which helps to prevent soil erosion. Mulch can be sorted into organic and inorganic: Organic mulch includes formally living materials such as bark, leaves, twigs, grass, etc., whereas inorganic mulch includes rocks, wood chips, and plastic. The benefit of organic mulch is that it is filled with biologically compatible bacteria that cooperate with microorganisms found in soil, naturally improving the soil structure.


Implementing a few simple rituals into your yard maintenance can reduce underbrush and yard trimmings. Here are some additional ideas:

1. Add your composted material to indoor potting soil. A key component to a successful outcome is porosity (the amount of space between pieces of a material); a general rule to achieve this is to add one part soil to two parts compost. This may vary depending on the plant’s humidity and light-exposure requirements.


2. Allow leaves to fall where they may. Depending on the amount of underbrush you have, and your personal aesthetic, you might consider allowing nature to undergo its natural cyclic process by allowing leaves to fall and decompose naturally.

3. Reduce your tree pruning. You can counterbalance the extra shade by selecting shade-tolerant ground layer plants for those areas.

4. Grow native plants. Plants that grow in their natural environment have an easier time adapting to local climate, provide a source of food and shelter for native insects and animals, and offer natural defenses against pests.


Recycling underbrush is a wonderful way to follow nature’s cycles. Your yard will reflect a lush quality when you integrate recycling techniques into your maintenance habits. Composting is an eco-friendly solution to the question of what to do with all those yard trimmings.



How do you recycle underbrush? Let us know in the comments below!

Share with Your Friends & Family
  • julie b. 4 years ago
    We have always been avid composters/all veggie peelings, tea bags, egg shells, grass trimmings, etc (no leftover food!- that all goes in freezer compartmental containers for our lunch we take daily, we have these stacked in the freezer at all times) When we plant the garden in the spring, we have amazing rich FREE compost to add to our soil. We also live in a wooded area and put all tree trimmings, end of season garden clearings into the woods to break down. All leaves are used as mulch. We have many natural areas and let them fall at will. Lots of folks have chippers or mulchers to harvest even more free mulch. It is amazing what just one family can accomplish. I grew up in the 60's and my parents always composted and it just came naturally to me. . Keeping compostible waste out of landfills is so important. Once in a while an added benefit is seedlings sprouting in the compost which turn into free plants! This past summer alone I had 3 free cherry tomato plants from which I had a great harvest, enough to share with others!
  • Debi B. 4 years ago
    Make sure you read the labels properly. Take medication to the Recycling that is offered 2 x /yr by BSO & u receive a $5.00 gift card
  • Susan Mayer C. 4 years ago
    My husband puts all the leves, brush, tree limbs out in the woods. Everything breaks down out there.
  • Kenneth W. 4 years ago
    To the author: do you mean "formerly" and not "formally?"
  • Ginger B. 4 years ago
    There are positive things to do with under brush and trimming mugs! We can actually flourish gatdens and planters with the mulch.
  • View More