Elkhart County Burning Regulations

Elkhart County Burning Regulations


This time of year, many of us are burning leaves.  Because we live in Elkhart County, we can burn our leaves.  But, being allowed to burn does not mean you can burn anything you want, anytime.  If you assume this, you may be ticketed.  


Here are the Elkhart County Burning Regulations:

  • Private residential open burning is allowed where the building contains four or fewer dwelling units. Apartments, condominium complexes, mobile home parks, and businesses may not burn.
  • A person may burn vegetation from a farm, orchard, nursery, or drainage ditch.
  • Recreational or ceremonial fires are allowed but cannot be used for disposal purposes.

It is always against the law to burn trash such as household waste, plastic, batteries, rubber, diapers, and painted or stained wood.


If you choose to burn, these conditions must always be followed:

  • Fires must be attended at all times during burning until completely extinguished.
  • A fire must be extinguished at any time if it creates a:
    • Pollution problem​
    • Threat to public health
    • Nuisance
    • Fire hazard

Burning may not be conducted during unfavorable meteorological conditions, such as high winds, temperature inversions, air stagnation, or when a pollution alert or air quality action day has been declared. ​


Private residential open burning must be during daylight hours. All fires must be extinguished before sunset. (Recreational or ceremonial fires are allowed after sunset but cannot be used for disposal purposes.)


Private residential open burning must be in a non-combustible container that is sufficiently vented and induce adequate primary combustion and has enclosed sides and a bottom. A burn barrel is not well vented.


Only clean wood products and paper may be burned. "Clean wood products" means wood products, including vegetation, that are not coated with stain, paint, glue, or other coating material.
If I don’t burn my leaves what can I do with them?


The Elkhart County Landfill at 59530 C. R. 7 (Oakland Avenue in the city) will take leaves for free on any day that they are open.  The Landfill is just south of the U.S. 20 Bypass.


If you have room on your property leaves make great compost for use on gardens come springtime.
Check with your trash removal service to see if they will pick up your leaves.


DON’T PUT LEAVES INTO THE LAKE!