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Return of the Claw: Help for leaf season is on its way

Find out when street pick-up starts in your Sacramento neighborhood

The Claw is already back in action around the city of Sacramento, and will be through Jan. 29.

The Claw is already back in action around the city of Sacramento, and will be through Jan. 29.

Courtesy City of Sacramento

The Claw is back!

It’s leaf season in Sacramento, which means the return of the Claw – probably the most beloved piece of heavy equipment in the city.

Now through Jan. 29, the Claw – Sacramento’s specialized articulated tractor – will be scooping up leaf piles on city streets. Pick-ups officially started Wednesday.

On average, each household will get about seven visits from the Claw, estimate city officials. Residents can find out when the Claw will be in their neighborhood with the Claw calendar, available on Sacramento’s official Leaf Season webpage, Just put in your street address and the online calendar will tell you when to expect the Claw in your neighborhood.

In all, the Claw crews expect to pick up about 20,000 tons of green waste this season. Besides leaves, branches and other pruning debris are also accepted. (No tree stumps allowed.)

Although organic food waste (along with leaves and yard debris) now goes in the green-waste container, don’t dump food waste or paper into leaf piles. The Claw won’t pick them up. Instead, put such organic waste in the green-waste container.

In fact, city officials prefer that residents put as much as they can into the green-waste container before putting piles in the street. Green-waste containers will be picked up 13 times before that Jan. 29 cutoff.

Here are more leaf season tips:

* 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).

For more information:


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For week of Nov. 26:

Concentrate on helping your garden stay comfortable during these frosty nights – and clean up all those leaves!

* Irrigate frost-tender plants such as citrus in the late afternoon. That extra soil moisture increases temperatures around the plant a few degrees, just enough to prevent frost damage. The exception are succulents; too much water before frost can cause them to freeze.

* Cover sensitive plants before the sun goes down. Use cloth sheets or frost cloths, not plastic sheeting, to hold in warmth. Make sure to remove covers in the morning.

* Use fall leaves as mulch around shrubs and vegetables. Mulch acts as a blanket and keeps roots warmer.

* Stop dead-heading; let rose hips form on bushes to prompt dormancy.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location – and definitely indoors overnight. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Plant spring bulbs. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Daffodils can be planted without pre-chilling.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and plant such spring bloomers as sweet peas, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Plant trees and shrubs. They’ll benefit from fall and winter rains while establishing their roots.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins now. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.

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