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

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

pumpkins portland.png

Uncarved pumpkins can last for weeks or even months.

Photo by Cambrie Juarez, PDXtoday

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Now that Halloween is over, you might have a slightly soggy jack-o'-lantern sitting on your porch. Before you throw it in the garbage bin, local experts have some tips for safely disposing of your gourds that won’t leave them in landfills. Plus, keep reading for some ways to put your yard leaves to good use.

🎃 Let’s break it down

Even though you might be tempted to share your jack-o’-lantern with the neighborhood wildlife, Metro Parks and Nature scientist Katy Weil says that doing so “can be more harmful than helpful.”

Unpainted pumpkins can instead go in your green curbside compost bin — just be sure to remove candles and wax first. You can also dispose of pumpkins in your own composter, which is relatively easy and inexpensive to make at home.

🍂 Take it or leaf it

Autumn leaves are a thing of beauty… until they clog gutters and storm drains, and decompose into a slippery mess. Every year from November to December, the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Leaf Day service sweeps roughly a third of the city where there are high concentrations of mature trees for free. Find out if you live within one of the 52 Leaf Day districts and what your Leaf Day schedule is this year.

Leaves can also be gathered and put into your yard waste bin. If they’re overflowing, you can fill an extra 32-gallon container or put them in a Kraft paper bag and the city will take care of it for a $3.95 fee.

Another alternative for leaves? Leaving them where they lie (as long as they’re in a place that won’t cause the aforementioned issues). While experts don’t recommend leaving thick piles of leaves on your lawn, smaller quantities — especially when shredded with a lawnmower — will break down and improve soil health, suppress weeds, and act as mulch.

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