All About Burning Leaves

We aren’t quite there yet, but fall leaves will start filling up your front- and backyards before you know it!

Handling a yard full of dead leaves can feel (and is, for many) like a huge chore. Instead of investing a small fortune on leaf bags and a ton of time bagging, you might consider burning. But how safe is it to do so?

We think it’s generally safe to burn leaves when done so correctly, and our Hydro-Tech Irrigation team provides some further helpful info below.

Consider Local Laws and Permits First

Before you start burning all the leaves in your yard, you should first make sure that you’re even allowed to burn leaves in your area.

There are two types of burning: closed and open. Closed burning describes the sorts of safe burns inside a home, which would be done in fireplaces and wood pellet stoves. Open burning describes burn piles, bonfires, and burn pits.

While most areas allow closed burning, open burning is another story. Some areas, particularly those with higher population density or greater risk of wildfires, won’t allow any open burning at all. So, if you’re aiming to burn leaves where you live, you may need a permit. This will help local governments keep track of burnings to help them get a head start on emergency and safety protocols if necessary. Plus, it’s expensive to get caught without a permit.

Is It Bad For the Environment?

It’s not the best, but it also depends on what you’re burning. Debris from trees, such as leaves, branches, etc. can be burned safely, but huge burn piles that contain these items can create a ground-level ozone environment that’s unsafe for wildlife and sensitive plants due to the gases emitted when burning.

However, the greatest concern about open burning is, by far, its potential to go bad quickly. An uncontained fire can grow out of control very quickly and can produce catastrophic results. In fact, humans cause nearly 85% of wildfires, many of which start as burning leaf piles.

How to Be Safe

Burning leaves is riskier than bagging them up, but there are ways to do it safely.

Choose a safe location for your burn pile. Fifty feet from a structure is generally best. Also, be sure there are no overhead hazards like low-hanging tree limbs or utility wires to contend with.

Keep your burn pile small and manageable. It might seem inefficient, but a small pile is much safer than a larger pile.

Keep a safe distance between your unburnt leaves and burn pile. It’s also a good idea to position your burn pile downwind from your unburnt leaves to prevent windswept embers from igniting them.

Only burn on clear days with little to no wind. The clear sky will allow the smoke to dissipate quickly, and the low wind will help keep your fire contained.

Do you have further questions about burning leaves? We’d love to provide some answers, so don’t hesitate to reach out!

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