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Let those leaves fall -- The Claw is back!

Sacramento Leaf Season officially returns with curbside pick-up

Large vehicle with leaf-grabbing claw
It's time for The Claw to make its appearance on Sacramento streets. (Photo
courtesy City of Sacramento.)

What metallic monster returns to Sacramento the day AFTER Halloween? The Claw, of course!

Nov. 1 is the official start of Sacramento Leaf Season and curbside pick-up of green waste. And with that pick-up comes the specially equipped mechanical leaf picker-upper affectionately nicknamed The Claw.

Through Jan. 23, city crews will scour and scrape the streets for leaf piles. Between now and then, each home will get about seven visits from The Claw.

“In the early part of the season, time between collections may be shorter,” says the city’s leaf season website. “As leaf drop volume grows, and if wind and rainstorms occur, it can take crews longer to rotate through the entire city.”

Without rain, it usually takes the crews 12 days to rotate around the city, picking up leaf piles. But a big storm can double that estimate. The wait time is usually longer in November and December when leaf fall is greatest.

“The schedule is updated daily based on volume of yard waste from the previous day, weather conditions and equipment availability,” says the city. “Check the calendar frequently since collection dates change often. Crews work rain or shine, including holidays.”

No days off for The Claw. Crews work sevens days a week including holidays.

Some reminders:

Leaf piles can be no bigger than 4 by 4 by 9 feet (and just one per household). Make sure there is space between the pile and the curb so water can flow down the gutter. Also, place the pile at least 6 feet away from cars, boats, basketball hoops or other obstructions. The Claw needs room to maneuver.

Don’t put plastic bags in street piles (including bags full of leaves). And don’t contaminate the leaf pile with trash or dog poop (a common problem).

Any branches in the pile should be trimmed to 3-foot pieces.

During leaf season, the City of Sacramento continues to pick up green waste containers. Fill those first before piling leaves in the street, advises the recycling and solid waste department. The containers will get picked up 13 times during Leaf Season – almost twice as much as visits from The Claw.

See when The Claw will visit you! For more information and the link to the calendar: .


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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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