Don’t let this clean-up chance leaf you behind

Column by John Akal
Posted 10/30/18

Quick, when I say November, what’s the first thing you think about? Probably Thanksgiving, or some of the things that go on the table for that occasion. Maybe you think of the snow starting to fall …

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Don’t let this clean-up chance leaf you behind


Quick, when I say November, what’s the first thing you think about? Probably Thanksgiving, or some of the things that go on the table for that occasion. Maybe you think of the snow starting to fall or possibly the ski lifts opening for the season. I’m guessing watching a football game came to somebody’s mind. How about going over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house?

I’m sure most of you have some kind of memory that the word November triggers but I’m willing to bet that most of you didn’t immediately jump to thinking about a Fall yard clean up, did you? That seems to be something most people think about a little earlier in the season.

But thankfully, for those of us who live a procrastinators lifestyle, November is the perfect time to clean up your act and get that lawn ready for sticking up tacky giant plastic reindeer or something.

Why? Well, there’s a couple of good reasons. First off, by November most of the leaves have probably fallen off the trees so you can rake them up just once instead of doing it in early October and having a fit about how the lawn is covered again in two days. Another bonus is that by November most of the leaves from your trees have probably blown over to your neighbor’s yard so they can rake them up for you. This strategy works best if you are the only house on the block that has a lot of trees or have a neighbor up wind that is out there every other day raking their leaves. Otherwise, your neighbor’s leaves will take the place of yours when the wind blows so you are pretty much back where you started.

But the biggest and best reason to pick November to start bagging leaves is that it’s when Golden’s Fall Yard Waste Collection Days are happening. That means you can get rid of the debris and don’t have to pay a separate fee. So pay close attention here, I’m about to save you some money.

First off, this is only for those residents of Golden who are participating in the City’s Pay as You Throw program, which means most of us since that’s the town’s official trash service.

So, twice a year they have these free collection days, one in the Spring and another one is in the Fall. This year’s Fall days are scheduled for the week of November 12-16.

Here’s how it works. You can put out your yard waste on your normal trash collection day next to your regular trash and recycle cans. They send around special trucks that pick that stuff up for free that week.

Simple enough, right?

Well, not so fast. There are some restrictions that you need to be aware of. First off, you need to put your yard waste either in some kind of reusable container (this is where you might be sorry if you threw out your old trash cans when we were all issued the new fancy city cans) or in those special compostable paper bags that are available at most hardware or home improvement stores. Don’t put it in regular plastic trash or yard bags, they won’t pick those up. You can dispose of 3 cubic yards of waste or 21 compostable 30 gallon bags.

Next, you need to be aware of what qualifies as “yard waste.” Here’s what you can put out: grass clippings, pine needles, leaves, weeds, branches, sawdust, ground or chipped wood. Since all of this is recycled here’s what you can’t put out: plastics, dirt, cactus, tree stumps, branches greater than 4 inches in diameter, ashes, animal waste, treated lumber, logs, old garden hoses, construction material or broken flower pots.

Bundles must be 4 feet in length or less, and no more than 2 feet in diameter. Branches must be less than 4in. in diameter and bundled with natural fiber string, yarn or rope like cotton or sisal. Do not use wires, nylon, polyethylene, or other synthetic material for bundling.

For a full list of guidelines you can go to or call the City of Golden at (303) 384-8000. As the commercial used to say…Life’s messy, clean it up!

John Akal is a well-known jazz artist/drummer and leader of the 20-piece Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra. He also is president of John Akal Imaging, professional commercial photography and multi-media production. He can be reached at


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