Hands holding mound of leaf mulch

From Yard Waste to Reusable Resource

How Yard Waste Is Transformed into Gardening Resources

Solid Waste Services provides curbside yard waste collection for residential customers in our area. This service allows for reusable debris to remain out of the landfill, where it would break down and release methane gases. 

Collected yard waste is processed into reusable products at the Raleigh Yard Waste Center. Organic steps used to compost raw materials and products produced offer several benefits for the community and align with strategies outlined in the Raleigh Community Climate Action Plan(CCAP).

SWS crew member collecting curbside yard waste cart.

1.    Crews pick up properly prepared residential yard waste on designated days. Debris inside of the curbside cart must be free of contaminants, or unacceptable material that will hinder the composting process. Collected materials are transported to the Raleigh Yard Waste Center at 900 N. New Hope Rd.  Learn your yard waste collection days here.

Truck dumping yard waste at the Raleigh Yard Waste Center.

2.    Yard waste from all over the City is dumped in a designated pile of debris. This step is the beginning of an on-site process to turn old vegetation into reusable organic materials.

Overhead photo of yard waste grinder

3.    Within one week, collected yard waste is ground into finer pieces to hasten decomposition. Reducing the size of the material provides more surface area for microorganisms to feed on and break down the organic matter. Large tree trunks and stumps are separated at his stage and ground down in a later phase.

Yard Waste Center Windrow processing compost and mulch

4.    Ground yard waste material is then dispensed into 18’ wide by 8’ tall piles called windrows, which sit for three to five months. A piece of equipment called a Windrow Turner is used to stir the piles of materials at least once a month. This step allows the material to maintain the temperature, oxygen levels, and moisture balance needed to continue breaking down.

The smoke seen in the photo is not coming from the machinery, it is a reaction of the decomposition process. The temperatures inside the windrow pile maintain a minimum of 131°F for at least three days between stirring which kills pathogens and renders seeds inert.

Yard Waste Center screener processing compost and mulch

5.    After a minimum of three months, decomposed yard waste is sorted again in various screening machines. This step separates the large wood pieces from organic mulch and organic compost.

Bulldozer loading yard waste product onto trailer.

6.    Once screened the process is complete. The organic compost and organic mulch are ready to be used in gardens, parks, and other landscaping projects around Raleigh.

Purchase Organic Mulch Products from Raleigh

The City of Raleigh’s organic compost is Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) - listed and certified by the U.S. Compost Council.  Compost adds nutrients, retains water, and balances soil density- all of which help plants flourish. Also proudly OMRI-listed, our organic mulch comprises woody debris and up to 20 percent compost. Mulch conserves soil moisture, suppresses weeds, and promotes earthworm activity.

After being screened, the mulch is dyed to add uniform color to your flower beds or garden. We offer mulch in brown, black, and red. Our leaf mulch comes from the loose leaves collected by The City of Raleigh’s Transportation Division. Leaf mulch improves soil structure and can be mixed into your garden soil to increase water retention making it readily available for plants. 

Learn how you can purchase products from the Raleigh Yard Waste Center.




Yard Waste Center
900 N. New Hope Road
Raleigh, NC 27610

Solid Waste Services
Service Categories:
Yard Waste
Related Services:
Garbage, Recycling, and Yard Waste Preparation