On any given fine weather weekend, you can count on your neighbors to spend some time in their yards – pruning, planting, mowing, edging or overseeing children’s games. What you can also count on as the weekend draws to a close is the appearance of piles of curbside debris. Like mushrooms that sprout after a rain, bulky trash blossoms at the curb on Sundays, the result of weekend undertakings.

These piles are a testament to homeowners’ projects: installations of new kitchens or bathrooms and hot water heaters; de-cluttered garages, crawl spaces or attics; or the progression of children from infants to toddlers, whose not-so-brightly colored plastic slides or high-domed pedal cars crowd the curb for a trip to the dump. Large dead tree limbs and discarded fence lumber also linger on front walks as big trash day approaches.

The problem with bulky trash is that no one in the neighborhood seems to know the pickup schedule. As soon as they accumulate trash that is too large for the trashcan, they set it out at the street, knowing that sooner or later, the tandem of trucks will arrive to cart it off. The fact that their unsightly garbage doesn’t bother them as they drive past it day after day is enough of a wonder, as is the fact that they are unfazed about subjecting their neighbors to the eyesore for weeks at a time.

Bits and pieces of trash blow down the street as the days wane into weeks, branches block driveways or make streets difficult to drive down, and prize hunters trawl the neighborhoods sifting through each pile, proving the adage that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

When the day finally does arrive, bulk trash disposal is a production that will bring anyone with small children to the window as a giant open trash truck stops at each and every yard, swinging enormous metal jaws down to ground level to snatch up the rubbish and sling it into the waiting truck.

According to a recent Dallas Morning News article, the city received 14,000 complaints last year about large trash. But until now, the only enforcement method was to send a citation via certified mail to the offender, who often received it after the garbage that had defaced the neighborhood for weeks was gone.

As of Aug. 1, a new system will replace the previous method. The city will issue immediate citations with fines of $175 to residents who place their trash at the curb more than four days before the scheduled pickup. The legal window is 7 a.m. on Thursday to 7 a.m. on the Monday of pickup week.

I am glad that the city is instituting a tougher citation method. I hope that this new method encourages Preston Hollow residents to wait to put their trash out, so that for the better part of the month, our streets and yards reflect Preston Hollow’s natural beauty. Piles of garbage and clutter degrade the appearance of the wide front lawns and large shade trees. And having only a four-day window for rubbish rummaging will make the garbage piles easier to maintain and less likely to be strewn across the neighborhood.

Do your part to clean up Preston Hollow – contact your homeowners association for the big trash schedule for your neighborhood, or call 3-1-1 or visit the city’s Web site at www.dallascityhall.com.

Take the trash out – on time this time.

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