Burning leaves in the yard

Can You Burn Leaves in Your Yard?

In Lawn & Garden, Tips by Jamie

It can be annoying when your yard is filled with fallen leaves. You may want to get rid of them in the fastest way possible. Some people think that burning leaves is the best course of action to get rid of them.

However, is this legal? Is it the right approach? What should you keep in mind if you want to burn the leaves accumulating in your backyard?

Can you Burn Leaves in Your Yard?

While closed burning is permitted in most regions, open burning is prohibited. Some places, especially those with a higher population density or a higher danger of wildfires, will not allow any open burning.

Closed burning refers to the kind of safe burns that may be done within a house, such as in fireplaces and wood pellet stoves. Burn heaps, bonfires, and burn pits are all examples of open burning.

Is Burning Leaves in Your Property Illegal?

It is in fact illegal to burn leaves on your property in some parts of the country, based on local regulations. These rules vary from county to county and even city to city. Therefore, you need to check with your local authorities to see if burning leaves on your property is illegal.

However, most parts of the country typically do allow burning of leaves on property unless there is a temporary or regular burn ban in effect. Traditionally, urban areas often prohibit burning while more rural areas do not, while still heeding caution.

Are Fumes from Leaves Toxic to Inhale?

There’s no denying that inhaling smoke is hazardous to your health. Airborne particles may irritate your eyes, nose, and throat, as well as affect your breathing abilities. Carbon monoxide is also produced by burning. Carbon monoxide poisoning may occur if you are exposed to it too much. It can displace oxygen in your blood and produce carbon monoxide poisoning.

Moldy leaves are particularly harmful to you, because of the molds and chemicals that hide in old leaves.

Is Burning Leaves Bad for the Environment?

Additionally, there are environmental and safety implications to consider in addition to health considerations. For one thing, the gases released during combustion may create a dangerous ground-level ozone environment for animals and delicate plants. The main problem of open burning, though, is that it has the potential to go bad rapidly. A fire that is not controlled may swiftly go out of control, resulting in devastating consequences. Humans are responsible for about 85% of wildfires, many of which begin as smoldering leaf heaps.

Burning Leaves is a Fire Hazard

Burning leaves is most definitely a fire hazard, especially in windy or dry seasons.

You should take extreme caution when you are burning anything, especially leaves since when they are dry they create strong, booming fires. It is vital that when you burn leaves, you do so at least 50 feet away from any structure and in a burn pit that is at least 5-feet in diameter. Of course you should also have quick access to a lot of water in case the fire gets out of hand.

You should take burning leaves very seriously and should treat it like a very dangerous activity – because it quickly can be.

How to Properly Burn Leaves in your Yard

How to Properly Burn Leaves in your Yard

Although burning leaves is riskier than bagging them for recycling, there are safe methods to do it. Here are some crucial safety precautions to keep in mind while burning leaves.

To begin, choose a secure site for your fire pile. In general, 50 feet away from a building is ideal. Also, make sure there aren’t any overhead risks, such as low-hanging tree branches or utility lines. It’s a good idea to utilize your fire pit or burning barrel if you have one. Otherwise, a dirt area devoid of plants is ideal.

Keep your burn pile small and controlled after that. Although it may seem wasteful, a tiny pile is much safer than a bigger one, which may be difficult to manage and extinguish.

Maintain a safe space between the mound of unburned leaves and the burn pile. To avoid windy embers from igniting your unburned leaves, place your burn pile downwind. Also, select a position that allows you to observe both heaps at the same time without breathing smoke.

Keep in mind that you should only burn on clear days with little to no wind. The low breeze will assist keep the fire confined, and the clear sky will enable the smoke to evaporate fast.

Things to Consider When Burning Leaves in Your Yard

Local Fire Restrictions or Current Fire Bans

You may require a permission if you want to burn leaves where you live. Your local government will either supply you with information about its needs or direct you to the appropriate permitting agency. This is an important stage that should not be overlooked. Permits assist local governments in keeping track of burning occurring within their domains for the sake of emergency response and safety. It may also be costly to be caught without one.

Have the Garden Hose Nearby

Aqua Joe AJHD120-58 Heavy Duty 120-Foot by 5/8-Inch Inner Diameter Kink-Resistant Professional Cold Water Hose, 500-PSI Burst Rated, Gray

As with anything related to fire, you need water nearby at all times. A water hose that is working and able to reach every area of your burn pile is essential. Additionally, you should also keep other forms of water near any burn too, such as buckets filled with water.

Watch the Wind

You need to be well aware of your local weather conditions before you start burning leaves on your property. Not only do you need to know how warm and dry it is, you need to know how windy it is too.

The wind is an important factor because if it’s a very windy day, just one piece of fire ember can be caught in the wind and can be transported to a nearby dry area and cause an even bigger fire. You should not burn on days that have winds of even more than 12 miles per hour.

Keep Your Neighbors in Mind

It may be your right to burn leaves on your property but you should still check in with your neighbors before you embark on any burns. This is because it’s the courteous and friendly thing to do and will keep the neighborhood friendly and calm and peaceful.

Also, certain allergens are released during burns and smoke can travel even on a less-than-windy day. Therefore, it’s even more important that you touch base with your neighbors before the burning begins.

Alternative Options to Dispose of Leaves Besides Burning

If burning leaves isn’t your thing, think about other options. Leaf litter may be added to your compost pile to help it break down into rich soil over time. If a dirty yard doesn’t concern you, use a mower-mounted mulching blade to make lawn-fertilizing leaf mulch and let it break down into your soil.

Learn 7 ways how to dispose of grass clippings in our detailed guide here. 

You may simply leave the leaves in your yard alone and let nature take its course, decaying and disappearing organically. Finally, bagging leaves for your municipality’s recycling program is always a wise and environmentally responsible choice.