City of College Park, Maryland

Public Works

How SMARTLEAF® Compost and Wood Mulch are Made

SMARTLEAF® Compost & Wood Mulch
Prices, Pick Up, and Delivery Options

Compost vs. Wood Mulch:
Which One and How Much do I Need?

College Park's Composting Process

susie smartleaf

Suzie SMARTLEAF® says:

It is important to keep your soft yard waste (grass, leaves, flowers, weeds, and light clippings), separate from woody yard waste (branches, twigs, sticks, shrubs, bamboo, logs) because they are recycled in different ways. Soft yard waste is used to make SMARTLEAF® compost while woody yard waste is made into wood mulch.


Public Works crews collect soft yard waste (leaves, grass clippings, flowers, and light clippings) in paper bags, yard waste cart, reusable containers with yellow city yard waste sticker on it, or in the fall with leaf vacuums.

This material is brought to the Public Works compost yard and formed to long windrows.

paper yard waste bags

leaf vacuum

compost windrows



A windrow turner passes over the rows, mixing the material and introducing more oxygen to enhance the natural decomposition process.

As microbes start to break down the material, the piles reach temperatures of at least 131° F for 15 days which kills any pathogens and weed seeds that may be present.




After several months of decomposition, heating up, and turning, the vegetative materials no longer have harmful levels of carbon dioxide or ammonia and the result is a fully matured compost product.

Mature compost is screened to remove debris and large particles over 5/8 inch in size. The compost is now ready to be mixed in with your existing garden soil as an amendment or as a top dressing for your lawn.


SMARTLEAF® compost

DISCLAIMER: Since all of our products are municipally collected there is the potential for foreign material in them. Our products are not chemically treated.

What does not belong?

Here is an example of the types of items that are screened out of the compost. Bottles, cans, dog toys, etc., DO NOT belong in your yard waste! We appreciate your efforts to remove these items to help us maintain a high quality compost product.

trash in compost

 How is Wood Mulch Made?

We collect woody yard waste (twigs, sticks, branches, shrubs, bamboo, and logs) curbside and bring it back to the compost yard at Public Works. Please note: woody yard waste must be tied, or bundled with string, or in a container and be less than 5 feet long and less than 75 pounds. If they are logs, they must be stacked neatly for collection.

Collected woody material is processed into mulch. The mulch is not screened, so it is important that plastic and other debris is not included with woody waste set out for collection.

Wood grinder


DISCLAIMER: Since all of our products are municipally collected there is the potential for foreign material in them, such as pieces of plastic, sticks, wire or glass. Our products are not chemically treated.