Don’t clean up yard waste quite yet, Minneapolis tells residents

April 17, 2022
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The City of Minneapolis will start collecting yard waste again — but would prefer you don’t actually pick it up for at least a couple of weeks.

The city sent out an alert Monday notifying residents that seasonal yard waste pickup begins the week of April 11.

But don’t actually clean up your yard yet, whether you’re in Minneapolis or elsewhere in Minnesota. The city highlights the importance of overwintered leaf litter and garden leftovers for pollinators.

“Bees often nest in broken stems of plants, and butterflies overwinter in leaf piles,” the city said.

Meaning if you bag all the fallen leaves and begin yanking unwanted plants out of the ground, you’re killing the pollinators needed to grow all of our food, whose populations are already in steep, worrying decline.

The City of Minneapolis recommends leaving all of your yard waste “untouched” until daytime temperatures are regularly above 50 degrees. That usually happens between mid-April and early May. Don’t just push leaves into the street either. It’s illegal and pollutes waterways.

If you want to be extra helpful, wait even longer. The University of Minnesota’s Extension Bee Researcher and Educator Elaine Evans says butterflies generally can’t fly until temperatures are in the 60s, so leave the leaf piles until then.

“Shredding, burning, bringing [leaf piles] to a large compost site where they would be buried, would likely kill any butterflies in there,” she said.

Stem-nesting bees can also hang out in their winter haven through May — so check broken stems for signs of bee activity before chopping them; or clip them off, but put them in a pile off to the side, leaving them there throughout the summer.

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