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With fall foliage peaking in Arlington, vacuum leaf collection to begin in three weeks

Leaf collection underway in Westover (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Northern Virginia is now reaching peak foliage, meaning it is almost time for Arlington County’s annual leaf collection service.

Up to 50% of trees in the region have changed colors, though some patches will not turn red, orange or yellow until later this season, per the Virginia Fall Foliage Report.

Arlington will wait a few weeks before kicking off its first round of vacuum leaf collection in residential neighborhoods. It is set to start next month between Nov. 13-15, according to the county website, similar to last year’s timing.

Crews will make two passes through neighborhoods in November and December, as different trees shed their leaves at different times.

The first pass will not reach some areas until early December. The second round is then scheduled to start between Dec. 5 and 8 and wrap up around Dec. 16 to 21, according to the 2023 collection schedule.

“The schedule is determined by historical data, types and density of trees, weather forecasts and other available information. Once it’s set, we don’t change the dates,” says Katie O’Brien, a spokeswoman for Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services.

Based on current predictions, O’Brien noted that things “appear to be on track.”

The county offers year-round curbside organics pick-up if residents have leaves remaining after both rounds, she noted.

“Residents can use their green carts or paper bags for leaf disposal on their collection days,” O’Brien said.

Arlington’s countywide vacuum leaf collection service is in contrast to neighboring Fairfax County, where only certain areas get the service and, in turn, pay a special tax for it. Fairfax has been considering ending the service, leading to a resident petition and, last week, a temporary reprieve.

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