Regulations on Garden Fires

Written by marlene affeld
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Regulations on Garden Fires
Burn only small piles. A large fire cannot be safely controlled. (Bonfire image by togepi from

Piles of autumn leaves, tree trimmings and debris from the garden harvest can be piled on the garden plot and readily disposed of by burning, ridding your yard of accumulated organic trash. Ashes, tilled into the ground, improve the soil. When burning, always use caution and follow the rules and regulations that apply to garden fires in your area.

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County, City and State Fire Ordinances

The rules and regulations for outdoor burning are complicated and vary from state to state. Some areas mandate a strict prohibition against any outdoor trash burning. Other locales allow burning at certain times and under certain conditions. Always check with your local fire brigade prior to starting a garden fire. Secure a burn permit if required. Burning trash in a barrel may seem like a good way to get rid of your garbage, but the fire may smoulder for several days and reignite when you are not present.

Burn Only Organic Material

Never burn tires, rubber, aerosol cans, fertiliser bags, pesticide containers, plastic, general household garbage or any material that will produce toxic smoke and fumes. It is unsafe for your family and pollutes the environment. Inhaled smoke from toxic fumes can trigger asthma attacks and introduce chemicals into your lungs that can cause cancer or other severe lung diseases. Residue from chemicals will contaminate garden soil.

Pay Attention to Weather Conditions

It is best to burn on a rainy day, with no wind. Always start your fire early in the day. Some locales prohibit burning before 8 a.m., however. Burning early in the day ensures that the fire burns down entirely before nightfall. Avoid burning during times of drought when nearby materials will readily ignite.

Practice Safety First

If your community allows garden fires, always burn with safety in mind. Always use a garden hose or sprinkler to soak down the area around the garden before lighting a fire. Never burn beneath a tree. Visit the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection to review the EPS's Backyard Burning web site. The site provides valuable information on safe burning of garden debris and provides links to state environmental departments, open burning regulations and provides government codes and ordinances.

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