How to burn grass?

Burning your Grass: Good or Bad?

For decades, people have burned their lawns as a way to revitalize their yards and keep them beautiful. This practice has been believed to have many benefits to the upkeep of your grass, but it may not be as helpful as we once thought.

The Good

  • Burning your grass is inexpensive and easy. Most people have access to the resources for this process without having to purchase anything extra.
  • Burning removes organic matter, dead leaves, blades of grass, and other natural material from resting on top of your grass. Organic matter can house harmful insects and disease. It can also hold onto important nutrients preventing them from reaching the soil.
  • The sun will warm up the darkened, charred lawn quicker, increasing the soil temperature faster which will benefit your grass.

The Bad

  • If not done properly, burning your grass can be dangerous. If the fire becomes out of your control you may accidentally damage your surroundings or hurt yourself or someone else.
  • Burning is commonly banned or restricted in cities and neighborhoods, so you may run into legal trouble if you don’t check with your local fire department.
  • Burning can be bad for the enviornment. It can ruin the habitats of animals you don’t intend to harm, and the smoke it creates is bad for you, your neighbors, wildlife, and the air.
  • Some species cannot be burned away from your lawn without damaging your turf as well.
  • Burning your grass will leave a big, ugly charred spot on you lawn until it grows back.

Should You Burn Your Grass?

Considering the pros and cons of burning your grass, it seems that there are better ways to maintain your lawn.

For example, you can reduce the amount of organic matter on your bermudagrass and zoysiagrass by mowing your lawn lower than usual when the grass first starts to grow. This gives soil and roots access to the sun which warms it up quicker and encourages a healthy green lawn.

While controlled burns may provide some benefits when performed by a trained professional, most of the advantages have been disproven or proven to be less effective than we originally thought. In this case, it seems the cons outweigh the pros, and it’s best if you do not burn your grass.

Thatch Removal With Fire: Is Burning Of Grass Safe

Is Burning Of Grass Safe?

Using fire to get rid of thatch is generally not recommend because of safety concerns and fire hazards. Fire, even controlled ones, can be unpredictable and quickly get out of hand. Most experts will recommend mechanical or chemical de-thatching, regular soil aeration, power raking, scalping, vermiculture and proper lawn care practices (deep, infrequent watering, frequent mowing and slow release nitrogen fertilizer), rather than thatch removal with fire.

Laws about burning thatch and other garden matter differ from place to place, so it is important to check with your local fire department before burning anything. Some locations may have burning bans, while other places may require permits or have specific times when burning is allowed. To avoid hefty fines, be sure to do your homework about burning and fire ordinances in your location. It is also a good idea to discuss your plans with neighbors, so they’ll know what to expect.

Burning Grass to Remove Thatch

Before using fire to get rid of thatch, you will need to create a fire plan and prep the area. Usually, a fire line is created around areas to be burned. A fire line is a 10- to 12-foot (3-4 m.) strip around the burning area that is plowed or tilled with the intention of stopping the fire once it reaches this point.

You will also need to make sure to have plenty of available helpers on the day of the burn. If the fire gets out of hand, it will take more than one person to control it. Strategically place hoses connected to a water source around the burn zone to quickly put out the fire. Also, ensure that everyone has proper safety gear.

Proper timing is very important when burning grass. Thatch removal with fire is normally done in early spring, ideally after the danger of frost has passed but before spring green up. You also want to make sure you are burning thatch on a day and during hours when the grass is dry, humidity is low and there is little to no wind. If wind speeds are 10-12 MPH or more, do not conduct a thatch burn.

Additionally, if you will be burning near roads, avoid times when traffic is high on the road, as heavy, dark smoke from burning grass can drift onto roads and cause accidents.

Burning thatch can be beneficial in many ways. It not only removes thatch buildup but can also kill off serious pests and diseases and adds readily available nutrients to the soil. However, do not use fire to remove thatch without proper preparation. Most importantly, never leave a fire unattended.

I burn off my lawn. That’s right, I light it up. It kills weeds popping up, burns away crab grass, it’s easier than de-thatching, kills many pests, greens up my lawn faster, and feeds the new growth. I burn it off in odd years, letting it grow as usual in even years.

I checked with my local fire department to see if I need a burn permit (usually by phone and free of charge) or if the fire department will do it for me (Many love to.). I also investigated local ordinances, and none apply to my rural home, so I’m free to burn away at will.

I only burn in late winter, when some weeds begin to appear, but the desirable grass hasn’t begun to grow, when the wind is under 15 mph and only in areas that my water hose will reach.

I don’t let clumsy people or children help. I goes pretty quickly, too.

I use a metal rake and a lighter. First, I light the area, and rake out the fire if it goes towards an area I’m not working in. If I don’t want something to burn, I wet it down really well before starting and continue to keep it wet.

If a section of grass is heavily thatched, I may have to re-light it and rake it up to get it all to burn off.

I like to work in small sections to keep it under control, and water around the area I’m burning.

After I’m done I heavily water the area to be sure there is no chance of fire, and this also feeds the roots of the grass.

Now, I just need to sit back and wait for my luscious lawn to grow. 🙂

This isn’t for everyone. If you live in a city, its probably illegal.

Dispelling Some Common Myths About Grass Burning

To many people, burning grass is a tradition, almost a rite of spring. Upon closer examination, however, the reasons for spring grass burning are largely unfounded and rather than being beneficial, grass burning is destructive and dangerous.

Myth: It’s safe to burn grass as long as there is still some snow on the ground.
Fact: Within hours of snow melting, dead grass becomes flammable, especially if there have been drying winds. Grass fires burn hot and fast and spread quickly around, and even over, patches of snow.

Myth: Spring grass burning controls weeds.
Fact: The weeds deposited their seeds into the surrounding soil last fall. Burning creates an ideal bare soil bed for the seeds to germinate.

Myth: Spring burning improves the new grass crop.
Fact: Burning actually reduces grass yield 50 to 70 per cent.

Myth: Burning makes the new grass come in greener.
Fact: The new grass will be the same color whether burning took place or not. It just appears greener due to the contrast against the bare, blackened ground.

Myth: I don’t see much wildlife around here so I can burn grass without threatening any animals.
Fact: Burning destroys the habitat of species you don’t normally see such as mice and voles as well as the nests and eggs of certain birds. If the fire gets out of control larger animals can be caught by the flames and many species will lose habitat.

Myth: Lost habitat will grow back in a few months and the wildlife will return.
Fact: It may take several years to replace what was lost. Vegetation is often multilayered with higher growth protecting undergrowth. Different species depend on different layers for food or shelter. Loss of the lower layer and its residents will impact species that prey upon those lost species.

Myth: Spring burning is the easiest way to get rid of last year’s vegetation.
Fact: Easy perhaps, but not good for the soil. Burning results in most of the old plants’ nutrients going up in smoke or remaining in ash that is washed away. Burning also releases CO2 into the atmosphere. Ploughing old plants under, or allowing them to decompose, allows carbon and fertilizing elements to go back into the soil.

Myth: It’s pretty safe to burn grass here. There’s a fire hall just down the road.
Fact: Under the Forests Act, if you light a fire, you are responsible for it. If your fire gets out of control you may be liable for the cost of fighting the fire, the destruction of others’ property, and face criminal penalties for violating burning regulations.

Download a PDF version of these Myths and Facts

CGRuffner – posted 13 March 2002 08:53

My husband wants to burn our lawn (Bermuda). He says it will make it come back greener and thicker. It sounds like a good idea, but I’ve never heard or seen anyone else do this. He used to be a fireman and knows how to do a controlled burn so I think he can handle the fire part. I’m just worried the grass won’t come back. Does this sound like a good idea? Any thoughts?

George777 – posted 23 March 2002 08:05

Yes burning bermuda will help it come back green and awesome looking. Make sure you wont get in trouble doing this. I see alot of people in the country do this and the resualts are awesome.

GC – posted 13 May 2002 15:26

It does work very well. I burn it just before it greens up in early Spring. After burning it, I scalp it down to the dirt with my reel mower. I recommend burning it in sections by “drawing” a box around the burn area with a stream of water. Then, I light the area and it burns up to the perimeters that I wet. I repeat this process until the lawn is done. You’ll end up with the strips that were wet, but you can just go over them with your mower. By now, you’ll need to wait until next year. Good luck.

CGRuffner – posted 14 May 2002 06:04

Just wanted you to know. It worked VERY well. Grass came back greener than anyone else’s on the street. They are already wanting my husband to help them burn theirs next year!

seed – posted 15 May 2002 13:50

Don’t burn down your house or your neighbor’s house. Fire is tricky. Professionals such as CGRuffner’s husband learn the procedures for prescribed burning. Sometimes even professionals have problems. I’d rather see you sacrifice your lawn than your house, so unless you really know what you are doing, fire does not seem like a good thing to start in the yard. If you live in an incorporated area, you almost certainly need to have a permit, and probably anywhere in the County you still need to let the Fire Marshall know what’s happening.


frenchman – posted 04 June 2002 20:59

What ever you do don’t use a torch. I overseeded my bermuda with ryegrass and the only way I could burn it was with a torch. I’m not paying the price.

YORBA LINDA – Four adults were displaced Sunday morning after a fire ripped through the attic of their home and caused about $150,000 in damage, authorities said.

Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Shane Sherwood said firefighters were called about 7 a.m. to the home in the 17000 block of Ridgedale Lane. The fire was out about an hour later, he said.

The adults got out of the home uninjured, Sherwood said, but the blaze caused about $110,000 in structural damage and $40,000 damage to the home’s contents.

Investigators determined that a trash can filled with grass clippings at the neighboring property started the fire. Sherwood said buildings at the two properties butt up against one another; when the can caught fire, it spread to a shed, then up through the vents and into the attic of the home next door. The shed sustained minimal damage, Sherwood said.

Sherwood said although fires don’t commonly ignite from grass clippings, it’s important to store them and other organic materials in an uncovered trash can or an unsealed bag. Moisture from the clippings, he said, can build up inside the can and raise the temperature. And as the decomposition process begins and heats the material up, high outside temperatures can combine to be what he called “the perfect storm.”

“Conditions have to be perfect for this to happen,” he said. “But the grass will dry out and reach ignition temperature. And when the heat gets to a certain point, the grass can catch fire.”

Contact the writer: [email protected] or onTwitter:@earleyOC

Every spring the grass starts to grow and for the following summer months we have to cut and keep cutting as it relentlessly tries to get ahead of us and become overgrown. Cutting grass is a chore. The usual routine involves gathering the grass clippings and dumping them in a heap then deciding what to do with this ever-growing pile.

There is a case for asking the question: is it better to leave grass clippings on the lawn? Or, to get the best from it, should we make compost from it while we’re making compost from everything else?

It is perfectly legit to cut the lawn and leave the clippings spread all over. Grass clippings are organic material and therefore will be food to something. The question of whether to leave grass clippings on the lawn or gather them up will depend on a couple of basic factors.

Can you leave grass clippings on lawn? Do grass clippings cause grass to grow?

Is bagging or mulching better for the grass? When should you bag your grass?

Is it illegal to throw away grass clippings? Can bagged grass clippings catch fire?

What is the best height to cut your lawn? How short should you cut the grass?

How often do you have to mow the lawn? How do I get rid of thatch on my lawn?

Can you put grass clippings in compost?

Is it bad to leave grass clippings on the lawn?

If you leave your lawn uncut until late into the growing season rather than cut early, then this may cause problems. Grass that’s allowed to become long and dense will produce an increased bulk of material. Large volumes of cut grass will gather together from the back of the mower and form lumps which will appear all over the lawn.

At first sight these won’t show up because these lumps will be as green as the grass that’s under it. This will change as the cut grass will start to deteriorate. A heap of cut grass will break down as microbial life forms start to work on it. It will go through stages, the first stage will involve mild fermentation which will produce acidic juices.

This isn’t anything to panic about but the these juices may be concentrated enough to kill the grass that’s immediately beneath the lump of cut grass. The surface of the lump of cut grass will appear pale having been bleached by sunlight but the inner part will be dark because this will be deteriorating.
After about a week the cut grass will have gone through the acidic stage and the it will go into the decomposition stage. This is when it will rot. With the acidity reduced or completely gone, various life forms will move in and start to digest, what is for them, quite a feast. These will be worms, beetles and an assortment of grubs.

The worms will be the biggest player because they will ingest the rotten grass then they will burrow down into the ground of the lawn. They will then deposit the digested material among the roots of the growing plants that are there. The plants will feed on the nutrients of what the worms have provided.

This is such a neat arrangement and we could argue that the best way of managing grass clippings is to cut the grass and just leave it where it falls.

The only downside to doing this is the potential of the bare patches that the acidity will create in the immediate period after cutting.

One way around this would be to go over the lawn straight after it’s been cut and attempt to spread out the grass clippings so that there is a thin and even layer without any lumps. This would significantly reduce the acidity problem and you wouldn’t see any bare patches at all.

The problem would be reduced even further if, after cutting, there was a period of very hot weather. This would dry the cut grass. It could easily turn into hay. If it’s dry enough to do this then there will be no acidic juices to come away from it simply because it will be too dry.
It will still be necessary to spread this out because when the weather changes and it rains, the hay will begin to rot and juices will leach from it. These are all problems which you will encounter if there is a large quantity of cut grass left on the lawn. If there is just a small amount of grass such that you can barely see it when cut, then it won’t pose any problem at all.
If you cut regularly when the grass has only grown an inch, this amount won’t produce much bulk of cut grass. It will disappear into the ground almost without trace. You won’t need to spread anything around because you won’t find anything to spread.

Can you leave grass clippings on lawn?

Grass clippings can be left on the lawn without adverse effect. If you cut the lawn as soon as you see any growth in the early part of the growing season then the volumes of grass involved will be quite small. It will not form large lumps. The clippings will settle on the ground between the grass plants. This will then shrivel and disintegrate away without trace and will, up to a point, feed the soil. It isn’t worth the effort involved to rake up small quantities of grass clippings. Nature will deal with it.

Do grass clippings cause grass to grow?

When grass is cut, the clippings that are generated are bruised and generally smashed to bits. This condition allows for decomposition to begin soon after cutting. Grass clippings rot faster than almost anything else. When any organic material rots it releases nutrients that are of use to other growing plants, including the grass plants that the clippings were cut from.
The only problem with this happening, apart from the acidity caused in the early stages of decomposition, is that any nitrates that are in the ground will be released into the atmosphere and will be lost. This is not a problem as far as any pollution is concerned; air is made up of ⅘ nitrogen. When any fresh organic material begins to decompose on soil the bacteria that breaks it down will release nitrogen that’s in that soil. It’s just a natural and unavoidable part of the process.

So, you need to be aware that if you have a system where you never collect grass clippings when you mow the lawn that this will deplete the lawn soil of nitrates. Just like most other plants the grass on the lawn needs available nitrates for it to grow. You may find it necessary to add artificial nitrate fertilizer to compensate for what is lost.

Is bagging or mulching better for the grass?
The best way to manage grass clippings is to collect by bagging all of it and make compost from it away from the lawn. This way the lawn won’t lose any nitrates. When the grass clippings have rotten down completely into a dark compost, then spread this on the lawn. Well made compost from any source will always be the best plant food that you can get and it will definitely make the grass grow without compromise.

This compared to the mulching approach where we leave the clippings to rot on the lawn surface is much more desirable for the lawn. Although it does take much more work to do, the results are worth the effort.

When should you bag your grass?
If you are going to bag the grass clippings from mowing your lawn, the best time to do it is at the time of cutting. The ideal way of collecting grass clippings is by having a collection box on the lawn mower. This way none of them go on the ground, decompose and release nitrates from the soil.

This is much better than having to rake it up from the ground after it’s been cut. Grass clippings can’t be practically stored and there is no real need to do so. Because grass clippings are green and moist, they will start to decompose soon after they have been cut unless they are so dry that there isn’t enough moisture to trigger the composting process. Dry grass clippings will be hay and this, by its nature, will be preserved.

Is it illegal to throw away grass clippings?

If by throwing away we mean finding somewhere in the middle of nowhere and just dumping it, then this is definitely unacceptable in civilized society. If you do this then expect a penalty. You need to find out from your local waste collection authorities about what they will take. Landfill space is best left for rubbish and general waste that can’t be reclaimed in any way.

Grass lawn clippings are different, they have a value and uses. When you see a large heap of grass clippings straight after mowing, it may well look like a vast quantity that will get in the way. The thing about grass clippings is that the heap will actually shrink. A heap will reduce in size very quickly within a few days.

The process starts by warming up in the middle of the heap as the bacteria start to work on it. If you leave it for a day then dig it over with a fork, you will undoubtedly see steam rise from the middle of the heap. This will look quite dramatic but it isn’t too much to worry about.
Digging it over will accelerate the rotting process and you will notice that the overall mass of material will reduce. This is because a significant amount of the volume at the beginning is water in the form of sap in the grass. The steaming off process will lose most of this and the volume will reduce.

If you really can’t make use of the grass clippings from your own lawn then it’s worth the effort to try and find somebody, a neighbour perhaps, who will take it from you. There must be someone nearby who would be glad of it, I know I would.

Can bagged grass clippings catch fire?

It’s highly unlikely that grass clippings will catch fire. This is a concern that some may have when they see a large heap of grass clippings which was probably cut yesterday and the heap is at the point where steam is appearing from the top. It’s true to say that the middle of the heap will be very hot, probably boiling.

You won’t be able to hold your hand in it for very long without getting scolded. You could probably boil an egg in a good sized heap of lawn clippings when it’s going through the ‘heating up’ stage. The concern that some have is spontaneous combustion. This is very unlikely to happen because the material involved is too green and wet. Spontaneous combustion will happen to grass that has been harvested as hay on farms. This is when the hay has been harvested before it’s fully dried in the field. Often because the weather is closing in and the farmer wants to get the harvest in before the rain arrives.
In the case of harvested hay, the conditions can be perfect for combustion problems. There is enough moisture for the bacteria to start the process, as with a heap of grass clippings, but the dry matter level is at a point where there can be a flash-over that will lead to a fire.

If you have a grass heap that’s steaming and you are at all concerned then the best thing you can do is to dig a big hole in the middle or at least take the top off the heap.When you do this, don’t be surprised if you see clouds of steam. It may look like the makings of a drama but the steam rising is heat being released that’s trying to build up in the heap. After doing this you should see the amount of steam reduce significantly and the whole heap will start to cool down.
What is the best height to cut your lawn?

When there is about 3 inches of new growth, this would be a good time to give the lawn a trim. It’s possible to cut it when it’s higher but if you cut it when it’s at a manageable height it puts less of a strain on your mowing equipment and you are less likely to suffer mower blockages.

How short should you cut the grass?

Aim to leave about 1 to 1½ inches of uncut grass. You may be tempted to cut the lawn as tight as you can so that you won’t need to go through the chore again for a good while but it’s not wise to cut the lawn to tight to the ground. If you have an extended dry period of weather after cutting then the grass may ‘burn’ off in the sun’s heat and you run the risk of losing it with bare patches appearing.

Leaving sufficient height of grass will ensure that some moisture will be preserved at ground level, enough to protect the grass plant. You will also have a healthy carpet of lawn to walk on.

How often do you have to mow the lawn?
This will depend on the type of growing season. In a wet year you may have to be ready to mow every other weekend. This should ideally be done in dry periods of weather between showers. It’s always better if you can mow grass in dry weather when the grass is dry. You can mow wet grass but it isn’t as much fun It tends to stick to everything and it’s heavier to handle if you are collecting it and having to empty the mower’s grass container.

In a dry time it’s quite possible to be able to leave the lawn for a month without mowing. In this case there won’t be much grass growth and it may also be better for the lawn if you leave it uncut as this will conserve, what may turn out to be, valuable moisture.

How do I get rid of thatch on my lawn?
This is when there is a build up of organic material that, for one reason or another, doesn’t rot down and disappear. If it won’t go by natural means then you have to intervene. One way is to go at it with a heavy duty rake and scratch it out. Depending on the scale of the lawn thatch problem, this may be more work than is practical.

For a heavy problem you will probably need a ‘de-thatcher’ attachment that fits on a garden rotavator. These will pull the mat of dead material up above the grass, leaving the soil surface among the grass plants clear and open. Once the thatch material is out where you can get at it you can then gather it up and use it to make compost.

Do grass clippings contribute to thatch?

It’s most likely that lawn thatch will be a combination of moss that has built up and dried grass clippings that haven’t become damp enough to rot away. This could be a good reason for collecting all the clippings as you mow.

Can you put grass clippings in compost?

Grass clippings are ideal for making compost. It’s probably one of the best things you can add to a compost bin. I say this because with grass clippings there is the absolute certainty that they will rot down into compost and do so relatively quickly. You can also be confident that the compost that is produced from grass clippings will be high quality as it will convert into a black crumbly, easy to use, form.

This is why it’s so important to make use of it when you have it. If you aren’t making compost from you grass clippings then you are definitely missing a trick. The process can be much enhanced and accelerated if you add hydrated lime or ground limestone. This will reduce the acidity of the rotting grass. The value of the lime will be carried over into the soil when you use the finished compost in the garden.

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Grassfires – Rural

Grassfires can start and spread quickly, especially on days when the Fire Danger Rating is Severe, Extreme or Code Red. Fire Danger Ratings tell you how dangerous a fire would be if one started. As the ratings increase, so does the risk of uncontrollable fire.

We’re expecting a higher than average risk of grassfires this season, especially in the west of the state.

If you live near grassland, parks or paddocks, you could be at risk.

Understanding rural grassfire risk

  • Grassfires can start and spread quickly and are extremely dangerous.
  • Grassfires can travel up to 25 km per hour and pulse even faster over short distances.
  • Grass is a fine fuel and burns faster than bush or forests.
  • Grassfires tend to be less intense and produce fewer embers than bushfires, but still generate enormous amounts of radiant heat.
  • The taller and drier the grass, the more intensely it will burn.
  • The shorter the grass, the lower the flame height and the easier the fire will be to control.
  • Short grass (under 10cm) is a much lower risk.
  • Grassfires can start earlier in the day than bushfires, because grass dries out more quickly when temperatures are high.
  • Living in a grassland area with dried-out brown or golden-coloured grass that is over 10cm high is a fire risk. There are some exceptions, such as Phalaris grass, which will burn even when green.

Reducing the risk to yourself, your home and your property

Decide what buildings or assets you need to protect from grassfire.

Reduce the height and proximity of grass to these buildings and other assets by:

  • Slashing
  • Mowing
  • Grazing
  • Spraying and using herbicide
  • Creating fuel breaks by removing all fuel (vegetation) down to the soil

Narrow fuel breaks (less than three metres wide) are unlikely to stop a fire, however they may slow it down.

By reducing the grass and other fine fuels around your buildings and other assets you can create a defendable space – a space which limits the ability of a moving grassfire to ignite a building through direct flame contact or radiant heat.

It’s important that you create and maintain a defendable space around all the assets you want to protect.

It’s too late to begin spraying and slashing as the fire approaches. You must prepare before the fire season.

If you’re a landholder or farmer, you need to include fire preparations in your whole farm plan. See Fire Safety on the Farm.

Machinery can start grassfires

During the Fire Danger Period, if you’re using machinery with an internal combustion or heat engine, such as tractors or slashers, within nine metres of grass, crops, stubble, weeds or other vegetation, it’s important that you ensure the machinery is:

  • free from any faults and mechanical defects that could start a fire.
  • fitted with an approved spark arrestor.
  • carrying a working water fire extinguisher or knapsack of at least nine litres capacity.

In addition to water required under legislation, you should also carry a dry chemical extinguisher that is suitable for normal combustible fires and electrical fires, such as an ABE extinguisher, on machinery.

What should you do if a grassfire starts near you?

Grassfires are very hot and can produce huge amounts of radiant heat that can kill anyone caught out in the open.

The safest place to be during a grassfire is well away from the threat.

Shelter from radiant heat

The best protection from radiant heat is distance.
However, if you need to shelter yourself from radiant heat you can do so by:

  • Going inside a building that is well prepared and actively defended.
  • Going inside a private or community fire shelter that meets current regulations.
  • As a last resort, go to a Neighbourhood Safer Place (Place of Last Resort). If there is no such place, then a ploughed paddock, dam (with water in it), swimming pool or other large water body (NOT a water tank) may offer some protection from radiant heat.


If you encounter smoke or flames from a grassfire while you’re travelling, turn around and drive to safety if you can.

If you’re unable to turn around and drive to safety, a car offers more protection from radiant heat than being caught on foot in the open. If you’re in a car and become caught in a grassfire, don’t get out and run. Visit Staying Safe in the Car for more information.

Protective clothing

If you are threatened by a grassfire, cover up all exposed skin with protective clothing.

Protective clothing includes:

  • Long-sleeved shirt and pants made from a natural fibre such as cotton or wool.
  • Sturdy boots and woollen socks.
  • Tough leather gloves.
  • A wide-brimmed hat.
  • A face mask or towel to cover your mouth and nose.
  • Eye protection such as smoke goggles.

Shield yourself from radiant heat behind a solid structure such as a building.

3 Better alternatives to burning leaves | Don’t Take the Risk

Why Burning Leaves is not worth the risk

So it’s that time of year again and the thought of spending your weekends raking and bagging leaves makes your stomach turn. I know what you’re thinking there has to be a better way, however let me caution you to resist the urge to rake your leaves into a big pile and lighting a match to burn them. Why is this the case?

It’s not the 1980s anymore and most cities and progressive municipalities are have local laws and ordinances in place banning the burning of leaves, even if you live outside of the city limits.

Why is this the case you might ask?

Common school of thought these days is that leaf smoke is harmful to your health and due to its moisture content that can spread airborne particles causing infections and in general the smoke itself is not pleasant to breath in for children and neighbors.

Put another way.. Smoke from burning leaves contains toxic or irritating particles and gases that can increase the risk of respiratory infection.

If that’s not enough another reason is that Carbon monoxide can result from incomplete burning, especially when leaves are wet. Inhaled carbon monoxide is absorbed into the bloodstream, where it can reduce the amount of oxygen that red blood cells carry.

It gets worse… When you burn that pile of leaves to make it disappear , you could be exposing yourself to potential liability should your fire get out of control, a fine from the local fire dept, or even potential smoke damage to your neighbors homes. So in addition to being viewed as an inconsiderate neighbor there could be financial liability that you’re exposing yourself to. So think about it burning that pile leaves could open your household up to a world of exposure that if you consider… it’s just not worth it.

So with that being said what are the better alternative to taking the easy way out and lighting a match on that pile of leaves.Well allow me to explain.

These days most local municipalities offer curbside pick up and will vacuum up and dispose of your leaves free of charge.

If available in your city or town this is certainly the most logical way to dispose of your leaves. Collecting them blowing them off to the curb and letting the city come by every two or three weeks to suck them up certainly makes better sense than upsetting your neighbors and exposing yourself to potential liability.

Next.. if local city disposal is not available in your area the next best option is to mulch up the leaves back into your yard.

If you’re going to go this route I recommend investing in a mulching blade for your lawnmower.

No matter If you have a riding lawnmower or even a push mower you can get a specialized mulching blade that will double cut up the debris as you are mowing.

Why does this matter? Because your lawn mower with a mulching blade attached will chew up those leaves into small pieces then the best part is your lawn will then absorb the mulched up leaves and convert it into fertilizer.

But wait there’s more… The key to success with this method is to make sure that you are mulching your leaves up every 5 to 7 days.

Simply stated if you wait too long between mulching up your leaves… they will pile up and get too thick and making it your yard’s conditions to where mulching is not an option.

Bottom line.. If you cannot see any of the underlying grass or soil because all of your yard is completely covered with leaves then sadly mulching is probably not an option as it will bog you lawn mower down and will create too much debris for your lawn mowing and yards little ecosystem to handle.

However on the other hand.. if you’re diligent about it and are willing to mulch up your leaves of once a week during the months during the months of November and early December while the leaves are falling in your yard and this is by far the best method to safely managing your yards challenging leaf removal problem.

But here’s the kicker:

If you have let the leaves pile up too think and they are too much to handle by the mulching method then I recommend a third and better alternative to burning or even raking and sending bags of leaves off to the landfill.

Designate a corner of your property to creating a compost pile.

This could just start off as just a pile of debris that over a year’s time actually will compost and turn into a rich organic planting soil but you can reuse next year.

Another option that may work for you if you live next to a natural wooded area then you might consider blowing those leaves off into the wooded parts that are adjacent to your property can serve as a better alternative to baggy and certainly better than burning.In summary this day and age it’s simply not worth taking the risk of upsetting your neighbors and exposing yourself to uncertain liability for property damage by burning that pile of leaves.

Put another way.. Consider mulching, leveraging your local city’s yard waste disposal services, or composting your lease as better alternative to burning and upsetting your neighbors or even worse creating a bigger problem.

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