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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?

Burn pit located adjacent to clearing area

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

Burn pit safely located away from woods, positioned to minimize wind buffering, and material is staged in a windrow to ensure efficient loading

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