Garden waste can become a nuisance if you let it build up. Whether you run a garden in a domestic polytunnel, on your balcony or in a full outdoor space, garden waste can quickly become an eyesore. Unfortunately, letting garden waste build up is so easily done, especially since many of us aren’t sure what to do with garden waste at all. However, there are several ways of disposing of your garden waste that will do the job without too much fuss or strain. From checking for recycling services in your local area to shredding garden waste, we have several solutions if you question what to do with garden waste. Read on to find out more.
Separating Your Garden Waste
Before we go into what to do with garden waste, you need to know that you can’t simply toss all of your garden waste in the bin. As a matter of fact, doing so can be incredibly detrimental to the environment. Usually, the majority of your garden waste is classed as green waste. Green waste, otherwise known as biological waste, is organic waste that you can compost. You will likely collect most of your green waste from regular gardening activities. It’s important to separate green waste from the rest of your garden waste as you will need to dispose of it differently than regular waste¹.
Green waste includes things like:
- Hedge trimmings
- Grass clippings
- Wood chips
You may have noticed that all the matter classed as green waste is also eligible for recycling. Hence, it’s important to split your garden waste into categories of ‘Green Waste’ and ‘Not Green Waste’. This way, you can deal with the different materials accordingly and cause no harm to the environment. Things that can go in the ‘Not Green Waste’ category include ceramic plant pots, bricks and plastic bags.
What To Do With Garden Waste
Once you have separated your garden waste, you can start working on getting rid of it. What to do with garden waste depends entirely on your local council’s services and how you would like to dispose of it. However, when it comes to green waste, we would highly recommend you recycle or compost it, as this will greatly benefit the environment.
Here are five different options for what to do with garden waste that you can combine or pick and choose from as you would like.
Check For Local Bin Collection Services
One of the easiest solutions to what to do with garden waste is to look for local bin collection services. Of course, many of us have rubbish collection days where our wheelie bins are emptied. Usually, this will include the green bins on a rotating basis. However, some local councils also offer an extra home collection service to dispose of garden waste specifically. This includes both green and non-green waste. However, asking them to collect green waste may incur a small fee. You can find out more about this and discover if your local council offers this service here.
Use Your Local Recycling Centre
If local bin collection services aren’t available to you, you can also look to see if your town has a local recycling centre. Almost all towns and cities will have a recycling centre where you can safely dispose of your garden waste. Once you have done so, the recycling centre workers can then separate and process the waste ready to be reused. Typically, local recycling centres will accept materials including green waste, cardboard, metal, wood, plastic and more. Although, some centres specialise in collecting clinical or hazardous waste too. However, some recycling centres have a limit on how often you can visit during a year. So, it’s important to check this with your local centre before ridding yourself of bits of waste over a few days.
If you’re interested, you can also find your local recycling collection days on the Gov.UK site. Disposing of some garden waste through your local recycling collection service and some by going to your local recycling centre will provide a balance for both you and your carbon footprint.
Burning your garden waste is an option, although you will have to check your local regulations before setting up a bonfire in your back garden. Although bonfires aren’t illegal in the UK, you will be subject to local restrictions, so it’s important to check these before disposing of your garden waste this way. The only legal aspect of bonfires is that they can’t cause a statutory nuisance to your neighbours and other people. Additionally, you cannot burn household waste on a bonfire.
If your local restrictions allow you to set up a bonfire in your garden and you would like to burn your green waste this way, you must be cautious. Always set up your bonfire in a safe place where it will not set fences, outhouses or other peoples’ property alight and keep watering cans to hand. Plus, don’t light your bonfire on a day that is too windy, too dry or too wet.
It’s best to let your garden waste dry out completely before burning it. Then, you can light your bonfire in a metal incinerator to ensure that the flames stay controlled, and you can put it out should you need to.
Start A Compost Heap
Starting a compost heap brings so many benefits to you and your garden. For example, compost helps reduce waste production, conserve water resources and combat climate change. Additionally, using garden compost as mulch will provide your plants with extra nutrients and improve the health of your soil. However, you will need some room to create a compost heap. Alternatively, of course, you could invest in a compost bin to keep it contained.
An easy way to start a compost heap is to simply throw your garden waste and certain food waste, such as vegetable peelings, egg shells and tea bags, into a pile or your compost bin. Keep adding to your compost heap, and leave the matter to rot. Usually, this can take about a year. Once the matter has decomposed, you have your compost ready to use!
However, the long game may not be what you want to play. Fortunately, there is a faster way. You will have to cut or shred all your garden waste into little bits until you can maintain a healthy balance of ‘green’ and ‘brown’ waste. Once you have your pile set up, you should turn it regularly. This way, the compost will get hot quickly and break down quickly.
Read More: Your Compost Guide
Use A Garden Shredder
Starting a compost heap and using a garden shredder often go hand in hand. For example, you can use a garden shredder to break down excess materials in your garden, such as twigs, branches, leaves and plants. Essentially, all your green waste! With a garden shredder, you can shred all your garden waste in preparation for it to go on your compost heap. Alternatively, you can spread the shredded waste as mulch on your flowerbeds, dig it into your soil or use it as animal bedding for chickens, rabbits and similar pets.
Shredding garden waste is certainly a time saver. However, if you plan to use a garden shredder, it’s vital that you take the right precautions. First, you should wear good-quality gardening gloves to protect your hands while shredding garden waste. However, even if you are wearing gloves, never put your hands within the blades to clear any clogged debris, as you may still hurt yourself. You can use a paddle or stick to do this.
Although garden shredders can be useful when disposing of garden waste or adding to your compost heap, they can also be expensive and time-consuming to learn to operate. So, do you really need one? Well, that entirely depends on you. If you find yourself having to dispose of garden waste regularly, investing time and money into a garden shredder will likely benefit you, as you can use the shredded waste to create a more than adequate compost heap. However, if you don’t have large amounts of garden waste to get rid of, we would recommend cutting it up manually for a compost heap or opting for another disposal option.
What To Do With Garden Waste: In Summary
Choosing what to do with garden waste entirely depends on you. For example, if you have a lot of garden waste on a regular basis investing in a shredder and starting a compost heap will likely be best for you. However, if you only find yourself piling up garden waste a few times a year, making use of local service will likely be better for you. Choose from our suggestions of what to do with garden waste to find a solution that works for you, your garden and our environment too.
Once you’ve figured out what to do with garden waste on your property, you can work towards avoiding it in the future. Read our guide on avoiding waste in your garden to learn more.
Sean Barker is the MD of First Tunnels, and is enthusiastic about providing quality gardening supplies to gardeners across the UK