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Why care about compost?

Compost is a healthy soil amendment that can be used to improve plant and soil quality. The City's compost is mixed with wood mulch and leaves, processed, composted and converted into a rich organic matter that boasts additional benefits such as water conservation, weed prevention and soil erosion reduction.

Info about free compost pickup:

The City's Public Services department has a free compost giveaway program at its Grant Creek Compost facility. Salisbury city residents, and people from the surrounding areas, can pickup free, high-quality compost generated from last year's curb-side yard waste.

The Grants Creek Composting facility is located at 1915 Grubb Ferry Road, Salisbury, NC 28144. Compost is available for pickup on Fridays from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. or until supplies are depleted.

(704) 638-5260 |

  • The compost site is open each Friday from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm.
  • The site is located at 1915 Grubb Ferry Road in Salisbury.
  • There is no charge for compost, regardless of the amount.
  • You will need to bring a container for your compost, but City staff will load it for you.
  • Compost is available for pick up only, no deliveries.
  • Should Friday fall on a holiday, the compost site will be closed.
  • Should there be inclement weather, we post on Nextdoor and social media outlets that the site will be closed.
picture of compost material


Be a Recycling Hero: Know what to throw, clean empty and dry containers, and no plastic bags!

Be A Recycling Hero!

Why Should I Recycle?

Recycling is very important as waste has a huge negative impact on the natural environment. Harmful chemicals and greenhouse gasses are released from rubbish in landfill sites. Recycling helps to reduce the pollution caused by waste. Habitat destruction and global warming are some the affects caused by deforestation.

Rowan County Recycling Services

Who Provides The City's Recycling Services?

Residential and business curbside recycling collection is provided through a contractual agreement with Republic Services, beginning July 6, 2020. Prior to July 6, the City was contracted with Waste Management for recycling services. Automated trucks are used to collect your recycling and recycling collection occurs every other week on the same day as your garbage collection. To learn more about your recycling service, please visit the Republic Services website​ where you can find more information about what you can recycle and what your route schedule looks like.

Contact Republic Services


Recycling Calendar

Each year, the City provides a recycling calendar. The map shows whether your home/business in a blue or green collection area. The blue or green corresponds to the highlighted weeks on the calendar, letting you know which week you can expect your recycling service. Your recycling collection day is the same day as your garbage collection day. Recycling services are every other week, in contrast to the weekly garbage collection.

2020 Recycling Calendar 2020 Calendario de Reciclaje
2021 Recycling Calendar 2021 Calendario de Reciclaje

Recycling Do's and Don'ts


List of Recycling Do's and Don'ts in English
Lista de lo que se debe y no se debe hacer en el reciclaje en español

Accepted Items:

  • Office and school papers
  • Catalogues
  • Brown paper bags
  • Junk mail
  • Plastic bottles/containers
  • Magazines and newspapers
  • Aluminum foil and food trays, cans (steel, tin and aluminum)
  • Phone books
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Box and paper board

Restricted Items:

  • Glass (recycle at Rowan County facilities)
  • Food
  • Yard waste
  • Scrap metal
  • Frozen food containers
  • Ceramic materials
  • Hazardous items
  • Non-recyclable plastics
  • Plastic trash bags
  • Cloth/clothing
  • Liquids
  • Plastic bags
  • Package wrap
  • Soiled items
  • Shredded paper inside clear plastic bags

Can glass be placed in the recycling stream?

Send glass to Rowan County facilities for recycling.

Will you service businesses?

If a business is able to manage a recycling bin like a residential home, you are able to receive recycling services. Please contact 704-638-5300 to set up recycling service.

May I order a second bin?

Yes. Additional bins can be ordered for an additional cost. Please contact (704) 638-5300 to order the second bin. There will be no charge for the second bin, but there will be an addition collection fee that will be applied to your monthly bill.

I have never had a recycling bin/My recycling bin was stolen. Will I receive a new bin?

Yes. Every resident in the city limits will receive a new recycling bin. Recycling information pack will be included with your new bin.

What items can I recycle?

Accepted Items include: Office and school papers, catalogues, brown paper bags, junk mail, cleaned plastic bottles/containers, magazines and newspapers, cleaned cans (steel, tin and aluminum), phone books, corrugated cardboard and box and paper board.

What items can’t be recycled?

Unaccepted items include: glass, food, yard waste, scrap metal, frozen food containers, ceramic materials, hazardous items, non-recyclable plastics, plastic trash bags, cloth / clothing, shredded paper, liquids, loose plastic bags and package wrap or any soiled items, pizza boxes, glass bottles and jars (brown, clear, green and blue)

Have recent efforts to clean the recycling stream been effective??

With recent education efforts to inform residents about how to “Recycle Right,” we’ve reduced our contamination rate by 10 tons per month. Our residents should be congratulated. Recycling Right helps to save money and help the environment.

About Stormwater

raindrops hitting water puddle

What is stormwater?

Stormwater runoff is precipitation that does not soak into ground, but flows over land into storm drains. As stormwater flows across surfaces it picks up pollutants from the ground. Water that flows into stormwater drains is released back into natural water sources and does not go to a treatment plant.

Where does stormwater go?

Sewer pipes and stormwater pipes are not connected! Stormwater flows back out into natural bodies of water, not into treatment plants. In Salisbury, storm drainage eventually drains to one of three main creeks: Grants, Town and Crane. These creeks drain to the Yadkin River and to High Rock Lake.

Stormwater drain emptying into river

Leaves clogging stormwater drain

What problems does stormwater cause?

Since stormwater runoff does not go through a treatment plant, increased amounts of pollutants entering stormwater drains causes an increase in surface water pollution and lower water quality. Problems caused in water bodies may include erosion/sedimentation, turbidity, eutrophication, increased salinity and habitat disruption. Eutrophication results from excess plant nutrients (nitrogen & phosphorous—found in many fertilizers) causing an overgrowth of algae, leading to decreased oxygen levels in surface waters. This creates problems for aquatic life. Examples of stormwater pollutants include sediments, plant nutrients, metals, organic materials, oil and grease, pet waste and pesticides.

What can I do to help?

  • If you have a catch basin near your property, it is very helpful to clean it off pre and post storm event.
  • Do not dump waste in storm drains.
  • Clean up pet waste.
  • Landscape with fewer hard-paved (impervious) surfaces.
  • Prevent erosion by vegetating bare soil.
  • Reduce pesticide use.
  • Clean up auto/household chemical spills with absorbents instead of rinsing with water.
  • Do not litter.
  • Do not dump grass clippings and other yard waste into street curbs and drains.

What is allowed?

Naturally, water will run through stormwater drains. Limiting the types of materials and water supplies that empty into Salisbury's stormwater drains is the most significant way of reducing stormwater pollutants. The following examples of such activities:

  • Water line flushing
  • Landscape irrigation
  • Diverted stream flows
  • Rising groundwater
  • Uncontaminated groundwater infiltration
  • Uncontaminated pumped groundwater
  • Discharges from potable water sources
  • Foundation drains
  • Air conditioning condensate (commercial/residential)
  • Irrigation waters (does not include reclaimed water as described in 15A NCAC 2H .0200)
  • Fresh water springs
  • Water from crawl space pumps
  • Footing drains
  • Lawn watering
  • Residential and charity car washing
  • Flows from riparian habitats and wetlands
  • Dechlorinated swimming pool discharges
  • Street wash water
  • Flows from emergency fire fighting


City garbage services:

Garbage is defined as refuse primarily generated from the kitchen and is treated differently than yard waste or recycling during the collection process. Trash, recycling, and yard waste should be gathered and placed at the curb separately: garbage (green roll out cart), recycling (blue cart from Republic Services). All garbage material should be placed in plastic bags before being placed in the green roll out cart provided to you by the City.

Residential and business curbside waste collection is provided by the Public Services department. Trucks are used to collect your garbage and waste collection occurs every week on the same day as your recycling and yard waste collection.

Helpful Hints
  • Carts should be rolled to the curb by 7:00 a.m. and rolled away from the curb by midnight on collection days.
  • Place your roll out on the curb, away from obstructions and not in the street.
  • Turn your roll out handle towards your house for pickup.

Restricted Items

The following items cannot be picked up by the Solid Waste Division:

  • Tires
  • Rims
  • Batteries
  • Vehicle Parts
  • Building Materials
  • Paint
  • Bricks
  • Concrete
  • Lumber
  • Shingles
  • Carpet


The city does conduct an annual citywide clean up, usually in the spring. During this time, tires (with no rims) and white goods (refrigerators, freezers, stoves, hot water heaters, air conditioners and washer and dryers) are collected.


The City Of Salisbury collects garbage weekly at the curb on the same day as yard waste and recycling collection. The City provides roll out carts for household garbage that should be rolled to the curb each week. Rear loader trucks are used to pick up residential garbage. Each resident is issued one cart at no charge. A $65 replacement fee is charged for carts that are lost, stolen or damaged beyond repair. Roll out carts should remain at the residence if you move.


The City also provides commercial garbage service to the Downtown business area via the City's commercial garbage truck. Businesses are allowed up to, but not more than three roll out containers. If a business requires trash pickup in addition to the maximum number of containers a dumpster of four yards or more is required.

Waste Collection Routes:

Sanitation Routes Map Screenshot

Tree Care

Tree Identification

How to Identify Trees

By: Eric L. Taylor, Melanie Kirk, and Chyrel Mayfield – Texas AgriLife Extension Service
The first step in tree identification is knowing that there are distinguishing characteristics that separate one species or group from another. This fact sheet will provide some useful tools to make these distinctions. Several of these distinctions will be described in detail below.
Habitat, Shape & Color

Some trees can be found growing on many different types of sites. Most trees, however, grow best on sites that satisfy their specific needs for moisture, light, soil, and biota (all the plant and animal life of a particular region). Other distinctions that can help in identification are shape and color. The shape and color of a tree can make identification possible even at a great distance. Some trees may change color in the fall while others my display a distinctive color or shape to help differentiate them from the next tree.

Bark & Branching Patterns

Bark features can be very helpful in tree identification especially when leaves are absent and twigs inaccessible (Image 1). However, bark can vary greatly with age, growth rate and habitat. Key identifying features include: texture, color and color patterns, and color and size of variously shaped spots on young bark.

tree bark

Image 1. A comparison of two characteristic bark patterns, sugarberry (left) and black cherry (right).

Branches, twigs, buds, and leaves grow at specific locations on the tree called nodes. Many species grow in an ALTERNATE pattern with one bud or leave per node (Image 2). Relatively few species have leaves or buds that occur in pairs at each node (OPPOSITE). Fewer species still grow with a WHORLED pattern with three or more structures at a node.

tree branches

Image 2. Three possible branching patterns of trees.


Leaves are often the easiest and most widely used way to identify a tree. There are many types of leaf traits that give clues in identifying trees. For example, leaf complexity offers very good clues to the species group. Individual leaves can be classified as either simple or compound (Image 3). Simple leaves have a single blade leaf. While compound leaves have two or more leaflets.


Image 3. Comparison of four different leaf complexities (modified from Harlow et. al. 1996).

The direction in which the veins run along the blade also helps to identify the tree. Veins of a leaf are described as parallel, palmate, or pinnate (Image 4).

leaf veins

Image 4. Some representative vein patterns of leaves (modified from Harlow et. al. 1996).

The shape of the leaf is very important in helping identify a particular tree (Image 5). Leaves can grow on conifers as either scales, single needles, or in groups called fascicles.

leaf shapes

Image 5. Some common leaf shapes (modified from Harlow et. al. 1996)

leaf margins

Leaf margins (edge of the leaf) are also key identifier as to the tree species (Image 6). The leaf margin can be: smooth (entire); uniformly sharp, finely toothed (serrulate); or maybe indented (lobed). Trees sometimes have much variability in their leaf shape.

Your county AgriLife Extension office or local state forestry office are good sources of information for tree identification. In addition, a list of helpful resources is provided that may further assist in the tree identification process.

Tree Selection

Not all trees sold commercially are equal. Purchasing a tree should be considered an investment, so take your time in selecting the right one and visit several nurseries if necessary.

When inspecting a tree, whether ball and burlapped (B&B), containerized or bare root, be sure to look at both above- and below-ground qualities before purchasing.

Reject trees that do not have the following qualities.

Above-ground qualities
  • Form Overall healthy appearance
  • Trunk Strong central leader; little or no scarring on trunk
  • Branches Balanced on the trunk; 2-4 inches of new shoot growth from previous year; few broken branches if any
  • Bark No signs of damage or wounds
  • Leaves Normal size and color for that species at that time of year; no evidence of spots, blight or wilting
  • Below-ground qualities

Root Main roots should not be exposed or covered by more than 4 inches of soil; not girdling or circling the trunk; strong root ball (B&B)

Ask nursery staff to temporarily remove any protective covering such as on the trunk that might be concealing damage.

Proper Planting

While planting each of these different types of trees differs in the details, all trees eventually end up in a hole. But not any old hole will do.

The most common mistake when planting a tree is a digging hole, which is both too deep and too narrow. Too deep and the roots don’t have access to sufficient oxygen to ensure proper growth. Too narrow and the root structure can’t expand sufficiently to nourish and properly anchor the tree.

As a general rule, trees should be transplanted no deeper than the soil in which they were originally grown. The width of the hole should be at least 3 times the diameter of the root ball or container or the spread of the roots in the case of bare root trees. This will provide the tree with enough worked earth for its root structure to establish itself.

When digging in poorly drained clay soil, it is important to avoid ‘glazing’. Glazing occurs when the sides and bottom of a hole become smoothed forming a barrier, through which water has difficulty passing. To break up the glaze, use a fork to work the bottom and drag the points along the sides of the completed hole. Also, raising the centre bottom of the hole slightly higher than the surrounding area. This allows water to disperse, reducing the possibility of water pooling in the planting zone.

Planting Balled and Burlapped Trees

Balled and burlapped (B & B) trees, although best planted as soon as possible, can be stored for some time after purchase as long as the ball is kept moist and the tree stored in a shady area. B & B trees should always be lifted by the ball, never by the trunk. The burlap surrounding the ball of earth and roots should either be cut away completely (mandatory, in the case of synthetic or plastic burlap) or at least pulled back from the top third of the ball (in the case of natural burlap). Any string or twine should also be removed. Backfill soil (combinations of peat moss, composted manure, topsoil, etc.) is then placed in the hole surrounding the tree just to the height of the ball or slightly lower to allow for some settling. Be careful not to compress the back fill soil as this may prevent water from reaching the roots and the roots from expanding beyond the ball.

Planting Container Trees

Container trees (though subject to greater heat and drying conditions than B and B) can also be stored for a brief period of time after purchase as long as the soil in the container is kept moist and the tree stored in a shady spot. The procedure for planting container trees is similar to that for B & B trees. In the case of metal or plastic containers, remove the container completely. In the case of fibre containers, tear the sides away.

Once carefully removed from the container, check the roots. If they are tightly compressed or ‘potbound’, use your fingers or a blunt instrument (to minimize root tearing) to carefully tease the fine roots away from the tight mass and then spread the roots prior to planting. In the case of extremely woody compacted roots, it may be necessary to use a spade to open up the bottom half of the root system. The root system is then pulled apart or ‘butterflied’ prior to planting. Loosening the root structure in this way is extremely important in the case of container plants. Failure to do so may result in the roots ‘girdling’ and killing the tree. At the very least, the roots will have difficulty expanding beyond the dimensions of the original container. To further assist this, lightly break up even the soil outside the planting zone. This allows roots that quickly move out of the planting zone to be more resilient as they anchor into existing surrounding soil conditions.

Once the tree is seated in the hole, the original soil is then back-filled into the hole to the soil level of the container. Again, remember not to overly compress the back-filled soil especially by tramping it with your feet. Compress gently using your hands instead.

Planting Bare-Rooted Trees

Planting bare-rooted trees is a little different as there is no soil surrounding the roots. Most importantly, the time between purchase and planting is a more critical issue. Plant as soon as possible. When purchasing bare-rooted trees, inspect the roots to ensure that they are moist and have numerous lengths of fine root hairs (healthy). Care should be taken to ensure that the roots are kept moist in the period between purchase and planting. Prune broken or damaged roots but save as much of the root structure as you can.

To plant, first build a cone of earth in the centre of the hole around which to splay the roots. Make sure that when properly seated on this cone the tree is planted so that the ‘trunk flare’ is clearly visible and the ‘crown’, where the roots and top meet, is about two inches above the soil level. This is to allow for natural settling.


  1. Begin visual inspection at the top of the tree and work downward.
  2. Use The ⅓ and ¼ Rules of Pruning
    • Never remove more than ¼ of a tree’s crown in a season
    • Ideally, main side branches should be at least ⅓ smaller than the diameter of the trunk.
    • For most deciduous (broadleaf) trees, don’t prune up from the bottom any more than ⅓ of the tree’s total height.
    • Where possible, try to encourage side branches that form angles that are ⅓ off vertical that form “10 o’clock” or “2 o’clock” angles with the trunk.
  3. For most species, the tree should have a single trunk. Identify the best leader and later branches before you begin pruning and remove defective parts before pruning for form.
  4. Don’t worry about protecting pruning cuts. For aesthetics, you may feel better painting large wounds but it doesn’t prevent or reduce decay.
  5. Keep tools sharp. One-hand pruning shears with curved blades work best on young trees.
  6. For high branches use a pole pruner. A major job on a big tree should be done by a professional arborist.
  7. For larger branches, cut outside the branch bark and ridge collar (swollen area). Do not leave a protruding stub. If the limb is too small to have formed a collar cut close.
  8. When simply shortening a small branch, make the cut at a lateral bud or another lateral branch. Favor a bud that will produce a branch that will grow in desired direction (usually outward). The cut should be sharp and clean and made at a slight angle about ¼ inch beyond the bud.


It is ideal to apply a 2”-to-3” layer of mulch around a tree that extends out to its drip line. This layer of mulch does a few things including:

  • Prevents weeds
  • Retains moisture
  • Maintains consistent soil temperatures
  • Provides a nice buffer between equipment (mowers, weed wackers, etc) and tree trunks
  • Gives a finished look to the landscape

"B'ah! I'm suffocating!" says the tree trunk with volcano mulchingHowever, take care not to cover the base of the tree’s trunk and its root flare with mulch. The sapling in this photo was not mulched properly. It was “volcano mulched,” meaning the mulch was piled in a volcano shape right up to the bark of the trunk. If you pile mulch against the trunk, it will hold moisture there and may lead to root rot. It can also lead to the tree sending up secondary roots, which are weaker roots that will likely get zapped by the sun, frozen by frost, or strangle the tree. Not good. If you want to meet someone who hates volcano mulching with a passion, meet Ken Druse, a guru of gardening who has tons of tips to help you flourish in your landscape.

"Ahh, my trunk can breathe," says the sapling. Instead, mulch your trees starting a few inches out from the trunk out to the drip line or beyond, as far as an 8-foot diameter. The root system of the tree extends far beyond its drip line. In a forest, that entire system benefits from naturally-occurring mulch.

Also, if you have old mulch around your trees, it may need to be raked to ensure it’s not matted. Otherwise, if it’s thick and matted water and air may not be able to seep through to the tree’s root system. Mulch that’s matted can also become weed-ridden.

AFTER - mulch spread around mature trees
BEFORE - mulch ready to be spread

Organic mulches usually need to be replenished a few times a year to ensure the right depth of mulch (roughly 3 inches) protects and nourishes your trees.

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