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Here’s what to do with your fall pumpkins and leaves

Find out how to dispose of old pumpkins + leaves ahead of the holidays.

INDYtoday: INDY_Kelsay Farms Pumpkins_OCT23

Turn this year’s pumpkin into next year’s fertilizer.

Photo by @kelsay_farms

Table of Contents

Now that October is nearly over, you might have a slightly soggy jack-o'-lantern sitting on your porch — and a yard full of leaves begging to be raked. Here’s how to get rid of all your autumnal yard accessories in a sustainable, easy way.

🎃 Gourd vibes only

The easiest way to let your pumpkins return to the earth is through home composting. You can chop an old pumpkin into pieces and add it to your lawn, or toss an entire one into your garden. If you’re lucky, you may have volunteer pumpkins pop up next year. (City Editor Shea experienced this by total accident, and her surprise vine produced five beautiful little pumpkins by September.)

If you don’t have a place to compost at home, here are a few local groups that can take those wack-o-lanterns off your hands:

Old (unpainted) pumpkins can also make a tasty treat for our animal friends. Scattering small pumpkin pieces or seeds in your yard can feed squirrels, birds, and deer.
If you don’t want to live out your Snow White fantasy with neighborhood wildlife, urban farm Byrd’s Birds accepts both whole and carved pumpkins to feed its chickens and roosters. You can also check out Oinking Acres Farm Rescue & Sanctuary, where animal residents thrive off of leftover pumpkins from Newfields’ Harvest Nights — or start your composting journey with your own worm farm, courtesy of Castaway Compost.

INDYtoday: INDY_fall leaves leaf collection_OCT23

If you don’t want to rake all your leaves, you can mow them in place — but don’t let them linger on your curb, as they can cause issues for stormwater drainage.

Photo by INDYtoday team

🍁 Take it or leaf it

Fall is the biggest season for yard waste, but that doesn’t have to always be the case — there are simple steps to easily recycle leaves during the 2023 collection season, which runs from Monday, Nov. 6 through Friday, Dec. 1. Here’s what you should keep in mind.


  • Collect leaves in large plastic trash bags. You can dispose of 40 bags per week.
  • Place bags three to five feet away from your garbage bins on the street by 7 a.m. on your collection day. If you’re not sure when that is, you can look up your address.


  • Place loose leaves (read: not bagged) in garbage bins.
  • Use paper bags, which deteriorate in wet weather.
  • Burn leaves — this is illegal in Marion County and incur fines up to $2,500.
  • Rake leaves into the street, which can lead to flooding problems.

Outside of the leaf collection window, you still have plenty of options for disposing of leaves. These include:

  • Placing bagged leaves in your trash bins for normal pickup.
  • Composting your leaves or mowing them in place to provide nutrients for next year’s lawn or garden.
  • Taking your leaves to Citizen’s Transfer Station where they will be sent to landfill, or to Southside Landfill or GreenCycle where they will be composted. Fees apply at all three of these locations.
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