Yard waste stickerSomething new this spring in Evanston — the city will start charging to pick up yard waste.

The plan adopted by the City Council goes into effect April 5, and offers residents three options for dealing with yard waste.


One option is to buy stickers for $1.75 each to attach to each paper yard waste bag or tree trimming bundle you put out for pick-up.

Stickers are now available for purchase at the City Collector’s Office located at 2100 Ridge Ave. as well as at all Evanston Whole Foods Markets, Dominick’s and Jewel stores.

The 30-gallon paper bags themselves are available at many area stores. Plastic bags won’t be collected, and the city plans to hit people with special pickup fees if bags are left out without the stickers more than 48 hours: $25 for up to three bags and $10 for every three additional bags.


Alternatively, residents can have an unlimited amount of yard waste collected from a wheeled cart for an annual fee of $25.

Residents can use existing city-supplied 95-gallon yard waste carts or buy one now from the city for $82.50 and skip the purchase of bags and stickers.

Yard waste cart order forms are available online and at the city collector’s office at 2100 Ridge Ave. Carts have a limited five year warranty that does not cover theft, abuse or negligence.

Yard waste fees are assessed annually and will appear on your water bill in July. Yard waste pickups continue on your regular refuse/recycling collection day beginning April 5 through Dec. 9. To ensure compliance with state laws, yard waste must be collected separately from the rest of household waste.


Residents can avoid either yard waste charge by composting and mulching on their own property. That also recycles the earth’s nutrients, saves money, and conserves vanishing landfill space. For further information on composting, call the Ecology Center at 847-448-8256. 

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Yard Waste Fees
    While I recognize there should be fees for service – This is just another tax to be piled onto the rising costs of the privilege of living in Evanston… $1.75 per bag is – in my humble opinion excessive… Sometimes I have 30 (well packed) bags from the detritus of trees growing on other peoples properties.

    I have an existing yard waste roller container – it is not clear how much I have to pay for its use. In the fall, the “roller” is inadequate. I’d mulch if I could!

    Besides the ever escalating costs of our Property taxes alone… How can I afford to own & manage quality rental properties? I can’t pass these costs along for at least a year if at all due to the stale rental market exacerbated by discount condo rentals (just lowered my rents again).

    I spend thousands and thousands of dollars to send other peoples children to schools in Evanston – Can’t they chip in for my leaf bag fees?

    City leaders – these pay and pay policies are breaking my back!

    Your sincerely, Brian Becharas – citizen, multi parcel taxpayer and pissed-off!

    1. $1.75 per bag is cheap
      Brian, A very easy & free option is to compost.

      If you are really facing 30 bags, that must mean you have a large lot; setting up a compost pile costs nothing and takes about 5’x5′ footprint.

      The ad you have up on Craigslist for the property on Oakton has pictures that reveal plenty of room for a compost pile.

      Even if you don’t want to compost, it is really hard to say that $1.75/bag is excessive.

      If you have 30 bags/year on the Oakton property that costs $52.50. Spreading that out over a 12-month lease for two units comes to a whopping $2.19/month rent increase per unit.

      So you might want to edit your ad and charge $1152.19/mo instead of only $1150.

      1. $1.75 per bag is cheap

        I have zero trees in my (principal residence) back yard and besides regularly filling up the yard waste container – the one “leased” from the city. I fill 30 bags at a time just from my neighbor’s sugar maple tree’s leaves in Oct. thru Dec…

        Yes, the rental property next door has two prolifically leafy silver maples that dump leaves and “helicopter seed pods” in giant quantities. I suppose there is room to compost… I ask you, after a few seasons, what is to be done all the rich loamy “output”? (How much do I have to pay to haul that away?) Besides the investment of time and money to do something that until now has been provided as a service.

        You must not be a property taxpayer… As I mentioned “pay & pay” for the privilege of Evanston ownership. The particular rental property you “Googled-up” has seen a 400% rise in property taxes in 13 years of ownership. The Cost of living has only increased in the low double digits since then!

        I have to agree with the poster who said – “They do away with city composting because of odor complaints and then encourage people to do it in their backyard!!!! The usual nonsensical actions on the part of our city government.”

        Gimme a break dude… I’ve go paint and staining to be done, bricks and a deck to repair, a new fence to build, I totally insulated the attic to be more green – I am running out of green(backs) and the time to do these things… I can’t afford to pay someone to do these things. Otherwise owning nice rental property in Evanston is a money losing proposition!

        Respectfully submitted, Brian Becharas

        1. $1.75 is not cheap if you fill 30 bags at a time.

          You sound overwhelmed. As an Evanston property owner and tax payer myself, I can relate.

          However, I can’t imagine what it’s like to fill 30 bags at a time from your neighbor’s sugar maple. 30 bags is not a small amount. When I rake and fill bags I stand on the leaves and compress them and that got me down to a total of three bags last year (then I had the problem of what to do with all the damn giant paper bags I bought, don’t get started on that.) I also used some leaves for packing into some old clothes to make a Halloween scarecrow and composted the rest. That compost needs to ‘cook’ for a while before I use it as a base planting medium for my garden (to which I will also add the spoils from my kitchen waste compost.) Over winter that leaf pile condenses into very little. Despite that fact that it seems like a lot in October I never have enough come May. (In fact, I often just rake it into a pile on top of my garden in the fall so I have less work in the spring- I’m really, really lazy- and then I just till it a bit and add some seedlings…seriously, lazy, but, I digress.)

          Anyway, back to the point of leaves and who pays. I think you need to take stock; contemplate your priorities and ask yourself if it’s worth the money and effort. Life is too short to fill 30 bags at a time with sugar maple leaves if it ‘leaves’ you frustrated, miserable and broke.

          Good luck

          Steve Matz

  2. Yard Waste Fees
    This is outrageous from a government services perspective! They do away with city composting because of odor complaints and then encourage people to do it in their backyard!!!! The usual nonsensical actions on the part of our city government.

  3. $25 if you forget to put stickers on!!
    I was just checking the city web site to see how much the annual fee for yard waste carts ($25), when I saw this paragraph:

    “Special pickup fees for yard waste collection will be assessed after 48 hours for bags without stickers, three (3) bags will be charged at a rate equal to $25, with each additional three (3) bags being charged $10.”

    So, if you don’t yet know about the stickers, or you forget to put them on, then you could end up with a bill for $25 just 2 days after setting them out. What about if you’re out of town, or don’t check the alley? 2 days is ridiculous. Will residents get a warning in their mailbox of the impending charge?

    I didn’t think the city had the staff to send a truck round again 2 days after the regular pickup.

    Why aren’t they putting notices on the bags to tell the resident that they won’t be picked up without stickers and that the $25 fee will be charged a week or so later.

    I think Streets and Sanitation can expect a lot of complaints this summer.

  4. AH, Fall: Time for yard wast stickers
    I live on Sherman and had 56 bags last Fall.The 1.75 sticker + 50 cents for the bag will cost me $2.25 a bag = $126 dollars. All North Shore suburbs have leaf street pick up. I can see having the cost for grass bag stickers,but lets get real and go back to the city picking up the leaves like all North and near West suburbs do.

  5. Mount Trashmore leaf compost.
    Oh that bad smell a bag of grass left to long will give off,thats because it is high in nitrogen. Leaves are low in nitrogen and is a carbon rich matter,giving it a fresh smell.If you take four feet of leaves,it will take 4 to 6 months to compost.If shredded 3 to 4 months. Evanston can use Mount Trashmore as a leaf compost in the Fall. In 50 years you can call it Mount Evanston,and Evanston can be proud that they went green in 2010,and saved Evanston Residents money.

  6. This is just not fair.
    I have a corner lot open to the public sidewalk – no ‘private’ place for a compost bin and I had 45 bags of tightly packed leaves last fall. Would the public rather see my lot remain leaf-covered year round? Because I am NOT going to pay $1.75 a bag for a service (leaf pick-up) that the city should provide in the first place. Why am I paying over $18K in property taxes each year???

    1. Leaf Bag Stickers = Back Door Tax
      I’m glad to see that there are some other folks finally getting upset about this issue which had been kicked around at the citizen’s budget meeting for several months. I too put out between 40 and 60 bags of leaves/yard debris each year and this is AFTER I fill the large compost pile in my small back yard. Evanston was awarded for being a Tree City and now we are paying for the exact thing which we were awarded for a few years back. This is a back door tax on the middle class folks who, for whatever reason (likely financial), do not have a lawn service to remove their grass clippings/leaves. Further, why am I being charged by the city to pick up leaves that are falling from their trees on their easement? I think there is a lawsuit in this somewhere because it cannot be legal to charge me to take away leaves that fall from city-owned trees. Not only have I been forced to clean up these leaves over the years, but now I have to pay a fee to get rid of them. Guess what, folks, I’m not giving this city one more dime than I have to. They are only getting what I currently pay for my taxes and nothing else. Small garbage cart and NO picking up leaves for me. I’m the neighbor you are about to hate because I don’t clean up leaves and they keep blowing into your yard. I’ll wager many of us will be doing that this year and I champion those that do. Let’s let Evanston know they aren’t going to get those estimated funds they’ve budgeted for from us. I’d rather give the money to the tree service I’m going to have cut down the trees inside of my property line. Tree City? I think I’m beginning to hear chainsaws buzzing all over Evanston…

  7. Stickers for yard waste?
    Stickers for yard waste? What does Wilmette, Winnetka, Skokie do? There are 7, count ’em 7 mature trees on City owned property next to my house. Guess where all those leaves end up? Private property. And the City wants me to pay them to remove their leaves???????

    1. Legal Issue
      Actually, since I heard this hair-brained scheme of the City, I’ve been fairly sure there is a legal issue here. Charging citizens to clean up leaves from city-owned trees is like getting a bill from a neighbor for whom you are doing a favor… such as mowing their grass. I live in hope that some sharp lawyer on the north side of our “fair” City wants to make a name for him/herself by filing a court motion against City Hall to stop this ridiculous fee. I’d contribute to court costs!

      Incidentally, since the City actually has a line item in the budget under receivables for the hard earned cash you are being forced to fork over to them in leaf-bag stickers, I hope you do your best to not give them a penny. I am looking into spring/fall cleanup because I’d rather support a lawn service than give a pittance more than I have to via property taxes to the City. This is war – bring it on!

      1. War? Really?
        Whoa. Someone is really fired up about the yard waste stickers. Also, It seems awfully hard to identify the offending tree from the leaves on the ground. Lots of trees in town drop lots of leaves every fall. No one says you have to pick up your leaves, feel free to avoid the trouble if you don’t mind ticking off your neighbors and killing the lawn. FWIW, the spring and fall clean ups are going to cost many times the total of the yard waste stickers.

        1. Yard Waste
          I agree with the war person. Am tired of this city charging for everything. Im retired on a fixed income and Id rather pay a service then give the city money for this. Leaf bag stickers are a laugh. Good for anyone who stands by their principles. City hall thinks people are made out of money. Lived here for 40 years and have watched everything go to the dogs. Guess you young folk are more amenable to this type of thing than we old ones.

      2. illegal charge for yard waste
        Spent about 5 minutes on this – I am sure there are more examples but for now:

        Some communities charge for yard waste, some don’t. Here are some that do:

        Highland park charges for yard waste

        Arlington Heights charges

        In Naperville a yard waste sticker is required on each bag or bundle placed at the curb on garbage day. Stickers cost $2.10 each

        The service is optional in Northfield – if you want it, you pay

        Lake Forest charges for stickers

        In Wilmette, biodegradable Yard Waste bags and official Village Yard Waste Stickers ($2.25 per sticker) are available for purchase at the following locations:

        1. Wow – An actual response from an Alderman
          Wow – An actual response from an Alderman! I think I’m hitting a nerve on this.

          Sure, there may be other ‘burbs that are charging, but has anyone ever challenged the legality of it in court?

          Does anyone remember Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice?” A pound of flesh, but not one drop of blood…. Unless the city can prove THEIR leaves from THEIR trees are not getting into my yard, they should not be charging me to pick them up. It is a mutual relationship on this subject – I do the work to clean up the leaves from the city trees as well as my and my neighbors trees and the city takes them away. Doesn’t get more fair than that!

        2. Didn’t Evanston require “official” paid yard waste bags once?
          I seem to remember that Evanston once required “official” yard waste bags that had the collection fee included in the price of the bags. The bags even had a city logo on them and non-official bags would only be picked up if there was a sticker.

          Does anyone else remember these and the dates of their inception and discontinuance?

          1. Evanston’s Official Yard Bags of Yore
            My husband, who grew up in Evanston, remembers the “official” yard waste bags the city tried to force residents to use. He said it lasted a few short months and then someone took the city to court. The city lost – our long-term city staff would have remembered this fact if they were not all on early retirement with their nice pension. Unfortunately, given some hindsight, the yard waste bag scheme seems a better option than the stickers. With stickers you not only have to buy the bags, but you have to buy the stickers as well. By the time you are done, you’ve spent more than a gallon of gas to toss out some yard waste. I am throwing my hat in the ring with other folks I’ve talked to and will not be buying one yard waste sticker. I’d rather have my taxes raised than have another fee added to the already large pile of fees the city is heaping on us. As I’ve stated to my alderman and in an e-mail to Wally, I can write off the taxes when I file. Fees are just another expense that you, our neighbors and I have to eat. We are being fee’d beyond the pale.

    2. 7 mature trees
      Do those trees add any value to your house or your property? I bet they do, probably a lot more than the stickers will cost.
      I know Wilmette has fall street leaf pick-up, but I think you need stickers for yard waste any other time.

      1. Tax on leaves from trees owned by the city which I care for

        Do those trees add any value to your house or your property? Very good question. It probably did before this new tax was imposed. I would have the city remove the trees planted on the parkway in front of my house. This way i don’t have to pay taxes for leaves that belong to trees i don’t own.

  8. New to evanston and wondering
    New to evanston and wondering when the spring/fall clean up is scheduled? i noticed last year when i was shoving my leaves into bags that all of my neighbors were sweeping them into the street – is this the fall clean up?
    any insight would be appreciated.
    as for the stickers – they suck. but not quite as much as my property tax bill. i foolishly thought $10K/yr included trash pick up. silly me.

    1. Welcome to Evanston
      Yes, in the fall you see the dump trucks and the front loaders picking up leaves off the streets that have fallen there. Any neighbor you saw who was sweeping leaves into the streets was breaking the law and hoping not to get caught.

      You can leave the leaves on your parkway and let the wind take them where they may. Or you may bag them yourself and this year you need stickers as well. This is called the Great Recession, the city has limited money. Your property tax pays for garbage, but not leaves.

      In the spring you will see the street cleaners come by every week, they will pick up the normal street trash and leaves so you had better make sure you park on the right side of the street.

      Surely you knew what your property tax bill would be when you bought in Evanston? It mostly pays for the two school districts.

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