Throughout the year, you’ll find yourself with plant material to dispose of. This could be as a result of pruning, tidying up in early spring, weeding, or removing unwanted plants. Depending on what kind of plant you have, there are three different ways it could be disposed of. Some material can even be re-used. Please read the guide below before disposing of your plant material. Do not simply throw it on the brush pile without any thought or it will grow out of control, becoming unsightly and much harder to manage. Only a small proportion of our plant waste should actually go in the brush pile.

Basic guidelines

Invasive, parasitic or diseased material (e.g. japanese knotweed, quickweed, virginia creeper, dodder, tomato blight, rose with black spot, peach leaf curl) -> Trash

Herbaceous material

Woody material

  • Dogwood or other sturdy, straight branches -> Make plant supports
  • Other tree or shrub branches -> Brush pile
  • Rose prunings -> Trash

The difference between woody and herbaceous material

Anything that is an annual and dies at the end of the season, or is a herbaceous perennial/biennial and dies back to the ground is considered herbaceous. The stems are quite soft and supple and if you bend them they tend to fold in two without snapping. Herbaceous plants include almost all herbs and vegetables you grow in your box (the exceptions are those that aren’t killed by frost and have tough stems such as rosemary, grape vines, fruit bushes). In the ornamental area of the garden the most common things you are likely to come across are most weeds, biennials like Digitalis (fox gloves) and hollyhocks, perennials like Campanula, Aquilegia (columbine) and Asters and foliage from bulbs like daffodils.

Woody material comes from trees and shrubs. It is much tougher and more brittle than herbaceous material and tends to snap rather than bend when bent. The branches are hardy to the cold and stay alive over winter. Stems from all trees are woody. Some common shrubs in the garden are Hydrangea, Buddleia, roses, Euonymus and Spirea.

If you are uncertain

If you are unsure what kind of plant material you have or what to do with it, ask a master gardener.