In honor of National Fire Prevention week, we are sharing how to safely create a burn pile to rid yourself of brush and vegetation on your property.
My husband and I bought 20 acres of land in the country after living in San Francisco for 15 years. The property we purchased was badly neglected. The forested area was overgrown with trees, branches, leaves and natural debris.
We immediately order a compost bin from Waste Management. Though we quickly realized we were the only ones on our street to do so. In the country side, everyone burns all their natural debris during the winter months when it is wet and safe to do so.
To do this on our property, we need to find a proper placement for it. There was a large meadow next to our home where a huge pile of branches and debris has been left there to rot. It looked like this pile had been accumulating for many years. The previous owner had probably meant to burn the pile at one point, and never did.
Read on to discover how we created a safe burn pile to get rid of this mess!
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Our first Fall and Winter on our new property, we moved the entire pile and sorted the wood. We cleared the area so that it was safe to create a burn pile there. Then on the very last weekend we were allowed to make a burn pile without a permit, we burned all the natural debris and cleared our meadow. Later we installed a fire pit there.
HOW TO CREATE A SAFE BURN PILE
- Choose a location that is clear of structures, trees, brushes or brush. This is important not only because over handing limbs of a nearby tree could catch fire. You also have to be concerned that underlying roots might catch fire and spread the fire underground.
- Make sure it is a Burn Day for your region. Generally this is during the late Fall, Winter and early Spring months when it is wet from rain and there is less fire danger. To find out when your county is having Burn Day try Googling “(your county name) and burn permit.”
- Check this same website for any special rules your should obey for your specific county.
- Start burning early. You should start your fire around 9am and be completely done with it by 3pm.
- Do not start a fire if there is high wind. Ash could float into brush, and this could cause the fire to spread. Reschedule your burn for another day if the wind is too high.
- Burn only natural vegetation – no plywood, no OSB, no painted or treated wood, no plastic, no paper or cardboard, no waste oil, no clothing, no insulation, no carpet, no diapers, no garbage. An exception to this is that a small amount of newspaper, lighter fluid or gas/diesel blend may be used (carefully) for ignition.
- Do not burn leaves or pine needles, as they may float off and start a fire elsewhere.
- Make sure all vegetation is loose from the ground. Do not burn stumps or roots inside the ground.
- Do have a partner to help you. Fires can quickly get out of control, trying to manage one by yourself can be dangerous.
- Do have a water hose available to put the fire out or keep it from spreading.
- Use a rake to clear the area of anything flammable. (We love Razor-Back professional tools, because they have a life time warranty.) You want a 10 x 10 foot area that is clear of debris.
- Your burn pile should be no larger that 4 x 4 ft.
- Keep feeding the fire regularly, so there is more fire than smoke. You can get in trouble for causing a smoke nuisance for your neighbors.
- Do have a bucket of water to help put the fire out.
- Do have shovel to help cover the ashes with dirt. (We love Razor-Back professional tools, because they have a life time warranty.) You should bury the fire until it is completely out.
- Once the fire is out, keep checking the ground to make sure that is cool.
- Do keep checking to make sure the fire is out for at least 3 hours after you put it out.
After we did this first initial burn, we now have a nice open space to keep burning vegetation from our land year after year. One of the keys to this is creating a space on our land for vegetation to dry and be stored during the hot summer months. We put such a pile near our wood shed.
Later, we installed a fire pit and bought a cover for it, so that we can safety have fire on our land. I will be writing another blog about how we installed this amazing fire pit later.
Are you creating a burn pile this year? Let me know if there are any important steps I missed!