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Springtime Guide

Spring into Action

This spring, find helpful tips on getting involved with neighborhood cleanups, improving your home, creating gardens and green spaces, being active outdoors, and staying prepared for fire and storm hazards. Take advantage of community resources and grant incentives to make improvements in your community.

Neighborhood Improvement

May is Building Safety Month, and springtime offers the perfect opportunity to make improvements to your home and neighborhood. Get involved with cleaning up trash and unwanted items or learn about housing repair programs available through the city to help you save on the cost of improvements.

Photo of neighborhood cleanup activities

Neighborhood Cleanups

Project Clean and Green 

A city-wide program designed to foster neighborhood pride and ownership through coordinated clean up. Collection crews will target one zone each week from  April 15-May 24, 2024 and collect up to six (6) cubic yards per property of unwanted furniture, mattresses or household items, and garden/yard debris in paper yard waste bags.

Residents can also host a neighborhood cleanup to build community and raise awareness about litter. Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful supplies bags and loans tools to groups hosting cleanups.  

Milwaukee Riverkeeper's Spring Cleanup 

Celebrate Earth Day on Saturday April 20, from 9 a.m. - noon, and clean up litter through the Milwaukee Riverkeeper's Spring Cleanup at 80 locations around the Milwaukee area. Help restore our waterways by removing trash and debris during this one day community-wide cleanup. Together, we can make a positive impact on our rivers and wildlife that depend on them. Milwaukee Riverkeeper provides the gloves, trash bags, and a FREE T-SHIRTS. Register in advance.

Big Clean MKE

Big Clean MKE returns to beautify neighborhoods citywide offically kicks off Monday, April 22, 2024. Volunteers, residents and local neighborhood organizations are teaming together in memory of Greg "Ziggy" Zyszkiewicz. All clean-up tools & supplies will be provided. Visit the Big Clean MKE webpage for a list of participating organizations for specific clean-up events and appropriate contact person.

Clearing Waste and Debris

  • Garbage and Recycling Collection: Carts and bins must be at the collection point (alley line or curb line) by 7 a.m. on designated pickup dates. Garbage must be bagged. Recyclables must be loose. Learn about what materials can and cannot be collected.

  • Look up the collection schedule online 

  • To receive schedules by mail: request online or call 414-286-2489
  • Drop Off Centers: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.  during the summer season from April 7 - November 23, 2024.

  • Brush Collection: Can be requested from April-November. Brush and branches include woody stalks from pruning and branches up to 6 inches in diameter. Place up to 2 cubic yards (size of a couch) between the curb and sidewalk or alley for collection. No branch should be longer than 4 feet or larger than 6 inches in diameter.  Request a pickup online or call 414-286-2489 

Home Improvements 

Take advantage of warm weather to make necessary home improvements that keep you safe, save you money and help the environment.  

  • Through the HomeSAFE educational program including in-person and digital presentations, the Department of Neighborhood Services is offering residents the chance to learn more about building code and neighborhood issues to make improvements. 

  • The City of Milwaukee offers a variety of resources and incentive programs to help current homeowners, homebuyers, investors, and non-profit organizations. Explore all your options to get the housing help you need. 

Stop illegal Dumping. Call 286-CITY and get Rewarded up to $1000

Stop Illegal Dumping - Report It Get Rewarded!

Illegal dumping is a burden to residents and a blight on our beautiful city. Don't let illegal dumping ruin your neighborhood. Report it and you could be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

Stop illegal dumping by reporting WHO, WHAT, WHERE and WHEN.

If you see illegal dumping in progress, please do not confront the individual(s). Write down the details and the description of the suspect(s), vehicle make and model, license plate, the items dumped, address/location, and the date and time of the incident.

Photo of neighbors planting a garden

Helping the Environment 

April is Earth Month and April 22 is Earth Day. Get involved in your community to help build green spaces and gardens, plant trees and other plants, and compost organic waste. 

Compost Bin Sale

A recent Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources study showed that 30% of material in Wisconsin landfills could have been composted. Home composting is a great way to divert waste from landfills and create a nutrient-rich soil additive from leaves and garden trimmings.

Start composting at home! The DPW 2024 Compost Bin sale is now OPEN. All compost bins and kitchen pails must be pre-ordered by May 19 and picked up on Saturday, June 1 from 9 am–4 pm at the DPW Sanitation yard located at 4031 S. 6th Street. This sale is not restricted to City of Milwaukee residents.

  • Home Compost Bins - $68 
  • Kitchen Pails - $25 

Learn more about compostingat home, through drop-offs, and composting collection service providers.  

Tree Planting 

The City of Milwaukee has lost thousands of trees to the Dutch Elm epidemic and the Emerald Ash Borer. Help replace the city’s tree canopy. 

Find affordable trees and seedlings, as well as planting and care guides and free landscape guides, through the Arbor Day Foundation. Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April (April 26, 2024) to encourage people to plant trees. 

No Mow May 

No Mow May is an environmental campaign that encourages people to refrain from mowing their lawns during the month of May. The aim of the campaign is to promote biodiversity and provide a habitat for pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and other insects. Learn more and register for the program. 

Neighborhood Gardens and Green Spaces

Milwaukee Urban Gardens

Grow fresh, healthy vegetables for your family and plant flowers to beautify your neighborhood. The City, in partnership with Milwaukee Urban Gardens, offers season garden permits for residents who would like to garden on a vacant lot near their home or create community green space. Apply for a permit with Groundwork/Milwaukee Urban Gardens, call 414-763-9947. 

Visit the Neighborhood Gardens webpage to find information about how to connect with other gardeners, find resources and water access, and receive other benefits like discounts, workshops and insurance.

Community Improvement Projects

CIPs offer reimbursable grants of up to $4,000 for neighborhood betterment projects that engage residents and improve areas throughout Milwaukee. Past projects have included additions such as green infrastructure, raised garden beds and murals.  

Review the program guidelines and apply today to help improve your community 

Healing Spaces Initiative

The Healing Spaces Initiative helps residents build relaxing natural environments on available city-owned vacant lots while, at the same time, eliminating blighted spaces and engaging residents. Amenities include: pathways, benches, perennial herb and flower gardens, shade sails, solar lights, meditation signposts, Little Free Libraries, and more. Learn more about guidelines and application information, as well as orientation sessions. 

MPL logoSpring Programming at the Library 

The Milwaukee Public Library offers a variety of events, programs and classes to the public. Sign up for the library’s weekly newsletter and get connected to news and updates. This spring, learn about topics like rain gardens and water management or stop by select branches for outdoor story time with children under 5. 

photo collage of outdoors activities

Being Outdoors

Get outdoors, go exercise, and explore the city. Enjoy the warm weather by walking, biking or hiking with the following resources: 

Safety Tips 

April showers do bring May flowers, but increased storms can result in damage to property and increased risk to your health. Know what to do in the case of extreme rainfall, downed trees, or power lines. Also, be sure to keep your outdoor gatherings fire safe to prevent grass fires.

Photo of rain falling on roof and gutters

Storm Destruction  

Springtime can mean thunderstorms that cause destruction to trees, power lines and other essential infrastructure. Contact the following numbers for help after storms. 

In the event of downed power lines, keep your distance and do not touch the lines. Call 9-1-1 for assistance from the Milwaukee Fire Department. Avoid touching any metal objects a downed power line may have fallen onto, such as fences, to avoid electrocution.  

  • For downed trees, residents should contact 414-286-2489. 
  • To report Street Lighting or Traffic Signal outages, residents should contact the Electrical Services 24-Hour Line at 414-286-3015.  
  • For water emergencies, residents should call the 24-Hour Milwaukee Water Works Control Center at 414-286-3710. 

Heavy Rains 

During major storms and heavy rains, overflows can overwhelm the sewer system, resulting in basement flooding and water pollution. The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District issues a Water Drop Alert during heavy rain to alert residents to use less water and prevent an overflow.  

Sign up to receive a text message when a Water Drop Alert is issued. 

Outdoor Fire Safety 

If you are hosting an outdoor cookout or bonfire, take precautions when operating a grill or using a fire pit. You don’t want the flames to get out of control and start a ferocious grass fire. Consider the following tips to keep your gathering safe.  

In a fire pit, hot embers may be blown away by the wind and dumped on a combustible material nearby like foliage or paper. If this happens, you will only have a couple of minutes to put out the flames before it grows and spreads. If you plan on starting a bonfire, it is wise to carry one or two fire extinguishers with you. Having a bucket of water close by will also go a long way in helping put out any flames.  

When grilling, keep the grill a good distance away from your home and any overhanging branches. Remove grease build-up and other debris after using the grill. Finally, do not leave the grill unattended. If you must leave, turn the grill off before stepping away. 

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