The city’s streets department hopes history doesn’t repeat itself.

A late-October blizzard in 2008 made a mess of the city’s annual fall leaf pickup. Heavy, wet snow made it nearly impossible for workers to clean up leaves and fallen branches left in the wake of the early-season snowstorm.

This year, however, Mother Nature seems to be cooperating.

The annual brush pickup has gone smoothly and is nearly complete.

Now, the streets department is ready to start its leaf pickup, beginning next week.

City residents are asked to pile their leaves on the tree lawn, the area between the sidewalk and the street. The leaves then will be sucked up by the city’s leaf loaders, which use vacuums to gather the leaves in trucks.

Following a few simple rules can make the process easier for everyone:

• Place only leaves or organic garden refuse at the curb. If you put garden refuse at the curb, avoid plants with thick root systems. They can plug up the machinery.

• Avoid mixing sticks and branches with your leaves, because they, too, jam up the machinery.

• Do not rake or blow your leaves into the street. Once leaves land in the street, get wet, and are run over by vehicles, they are impossible to collect with the vacuums. Leaves in the street also are likely to plug up sewer basins.

• If possible, avoid placing your leaves at the curb in bags. The streets department tries to leave the bags behind, but that makes more work for the streets crew.

The streets department plans to make two sweeps of the city’s four wards.

The gathered leaves are taken to the city garage on East Smith Street, where they are ground up and used for mulch. The city then offers the mulch free of charge.

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