Brightly colored fall foliage is everywhere in Catawba County, but someone must clean up the leaves once they fall to the ground. Area municipalities offer leaf collection for residents, and each area's collection schedules, requirements and services are different.
The city offers curbside loose-leaf collection for residents. This year's collection routes, however, are different than previous years.
Three leaf collection trucks will operate this leaf season, with each truck assigned to a specific collection area in the city. One truck will serve residents north of N.C. 10. Another truck will serve residents south of N.C. 10, and a third truck will serve Startown-area residents.
The trucks will vacuum leaves from each area in the city, and will repeat the process, which is expected to take several weeks, once every area is served. Newton residents are asked not to leave any debris, such as limbs, branches or metal in their leaf piles. Piles left behind sidewalks or in ditches won't be collected.
For more information about leaf collection in Newton, contact Newton Public Works and Utilities Department at (828) 695-4310.
Conover leaf collection started Nov. 1 and continues through Jan. 1.
Conover Sanitation Director Keith Lynch asked residents to blow, push or rake leaves to the edge of their properties, not into the curb line or city streets.
Residents are also asked to remove any brush, limbs or shrubbery from leaf bags.
"It clogs the machines up and really makes a mess," Lynch said.
Another mistake residents commonly make is blowing leaves onto streets instead of a yard's edge. Leaves spreading from both sides of city streets congests traffic and poses a threat to traveling motorists.
"That can virtually compact streets from two lanes to one lane," Lynch said.
When residents follow city guidelines, crews can do their jobs faster and more efficiently.
"In leaf collection, you try to move as fast as you can," Lynch said.
City employees aim to pick up leaves for residents about once a week.
Clear bags are available free of charge at Conover City Hall. Lynch said plastic bags can be used for small amounts of leaves, but it's preferred for residents not to use leaf bags. If bags are used, they must be clear.
Leaf piles left out after Jan. 1, however, must be bagged.
Conover city employees will implement a new Thanksgiving collection schedule this year. Leaf routes for Nov. 25 and 26 will be collected Nov. 25, which is Thanksgiving Day. There will be no leaf collection Nov. 26 to allow employees to spend time with their families.
"These guys never get a three-day holiday," Lynch said. "They really don't get the opportunity when the rest of the city is off during the holiday."
For more information about Conover leaf collection, visit www.conovernc.gov  or call Lynch at (828) 464-4808.
Claremont will pick up leaves Tuesdays and Wednesdays from residences in the city. Leaf collection season started Oct. 1 and continues through Jan. 1.
Claremont Public Works Director Tom Winkler asked residents to remove any kind of debris from their leaf piles to prevent costly repairs to the city's equipment. He said city officials once picked up a large piece of wood in the leafing equipment, and damage sustained from the wood cost $1,200 to repair.
"If (leaf piles) have any sticks or rocks in it, we will not pick it up," he said.
If a resident's leaf pile contains debris other than leaves, city officials will hang a note on the homeowner's door reminding them to remove everything but leaves from the pile.
City employees hope to reach every residence in Claremont about once a week for leaf pickup, but that period could be longer, depending on how many leaves are collected.
Winkler said it's preferred for residents to use leaf bags when collecting their leaves, and the bags are available for purchase at Claremont City Hall.
For more information about leaf collection in Claremont, contact the Claremont Public Works Department at (828) 459-7800.
Leaf collection in Maiden started Oct. 25 and continues through Jan. 11.
City Manager Todd Herms said town employees pick up leaves from residents every day.
Herms said only clear bags should be used to contain piles of leaves. Bags that aren't clear, such as black trash bags, won't be picked up.
Residents are asked to stack sticks in piles separate from leaves.
Maiden also provides clear plastic leaf-collection bags for its residents. The bags cost $3 for 25 30-gallon bags.
For more information about Maiden leaf collection, contact Maiden Town Hall at (828) 428-5000.
Leaf collection in Catawba started Oct. 18 and continues through Jan. 14. Residents are asked to place leaves at the curb of their homes and remove limbs from the pile. For more information about Catawba leaf collection, visit www.townofcatawbanc.org .
The city of Hickory is divided into four leaf-collection quadrants.
The Northwest A quadrant, which includes city limits on the west, North Center Street on the east, north of Southern Railroad and south of 12th Avenue, Sixth Street NW and 16th Avenue NW, has collection dates of Nov. 8-12 and Dec. 13-17.
The Northwest B quadrant, which contains all city limits north of 12th Avenue NW, Sixth Street NW, 16th Avenue and west of North Center Street, has collection dates of Nov. 15-19 and Dec. 20-24.
The Southeast and Southwest quadrants of the city have leaf collection days on Nov. 22-26 and Dec. 27-31.
According to the city's website, employees collected almost 3,000 tons of leaves last year.