Don’t burn fall leaves!

November 7, 2023

Falling leaves are beautiful and a lovely part of walks this time of year. They light trees afire in colors of yellow, red, orange, and gold and give a delightful crunch underfoot. If raked into a pile, they are fun to jump into and toss about. But eventually, those lovely leaves in our yards turn brown and must be removed.

There are options for disposal, but burning should not be one of them. Burning leaves can start larger fires that get out of control, putting people and properties in danger. Plus, leaf burning releases harmful pollutants into the air, making it hard for people to breathe, especially children, older adults, and those with respiratory difficulties. And according to Rosie Lerner, a Purdue University Extension Consumer Horticulture Specialist, “Moist leaves, which tend to burn slowly, give off more smoke than do dry leaves. These moist leaves are more likely to also give off chemicals called hydrocarbons, which irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. Some of these hydrocarbons are known to be carcinogenic.”

Instead of burning fall leaves, shred them into small bits with the mower and leave them on your lawn, use them as mulch around your plants, or pick them up and add them to your compost pile. If you don’t want to handle the leaves left on your lawn, check with your city or town office about leaf collections in your community.

For more, read The leaves are turning brown but keep your habits green.

Image credit: borchee | E+ | Getty Images Plus