So you’re planning a large scale clearing project, but are undecided about what to do with the resulting brush and landscape debris. Except in select cases, the most efficient and cost-effective solution is burn the cleared material in a burn pit. Winter weather conditions are usually ideal for clearing and burning, and right now we have several larger projects going.
The one downside to burning is it’s a little more nuanced than just making a pile and grabbing some matches. Things that need to be considered are:
- Burn site location – site your pit safely and consider a wide range of factors like woods, wind, proximity to water, etc.
- Do you need more than one burn pit?
- Locate the burn pit close to the area being cleared to maximize efficiency.
- Organizing material so it can be efficiently loaded into the fire.
- Making sure you have the right material to burn the right items – for example do you have enough material to get the fire hot enough to burn stumps?
In discussing burning someone may give you the classic argument against burning – that buried material settles and eventually creates sink holes. Our response would be it’s a shoddy carpenter that blames his tools. A well-managed burn means reducing everything – including stumps – to ash, and never leaving any material behind that could biodegrade and cause the ground to settle. This in turn requires a skilled operator who has experience safely loading and managing fires. Once the material has been reduced to ash the hole should be filled, compacted, graded, and seeded & strawed. A properly executed burn pit should look like it was never there.
A few quick notes of caution:
- Never burn unless you are 100% comfortable with the weather, ground conditions, and scale of your potential burn.
- Always get a second opinion or seek out experienced help if you are unsure.
- Make sure you have proper equipment on site in case you need to put the fire out.
- Be sure you have proper distance between any burn site and surrounding wood lines.
- Consult your fire marshal if you are unsure about permitting and/or local burn ordinances