Residential landscape debris burning

Smokey Bear Logo with word Wildfires Cost you.

Residential landscape debris burning of dead vegetation is allowed during certain times of the year and in certain parts of the state. However, always check with your local fire station or DNR Forestry office before burning. Burn permits are required whenever there are less than 3 inches of snow cover. During dry periods, DNR will suspend burning altogether.

The DNR recommends composting as an alternative to debris burning.

Before you get started

Obtain a burning permit from a DNR forestry office, any fire warden, or purchase online. After obtaining the necessary permits, ensure that your municipality does not restrict burning. Burning without a permit is a misdemeanor offense and has a maximum penalty of up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

How to safely burn landscape debris

  • Landscape debris piles must be small and manageable.
  • Clear all flammable material and vegetation within 10 feet of the pile's outer edge.
  • Only burn when weather conditions are safe. Do not burn if it is windy or dry.
  • Keep a water supply and shovel close to the burning site.
  • A responsible adult is required by law to be in attendance until the fire is completely out.
  • Once your burn is completed, be sure to "mop-up" the ashes with water and stir. Wildfires are often started from "holdover" debris piles that were not properly extinguished. This can occur days or even weeks after they were burned. Failure to extinguish a fire can also be a misdemeanor offense and have a maximum penalty of up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. Suppression costs can range from $150 to millions of dollars.

What can be burned?

Dry leaves, plant clippings, brush, and clean untreated-unpainted wood can be burned as long as weather conditions do not pose a fire hazard. No household trash, garbage, or treated lumber can be burned outdoors at residences. Seek out alternatives for debris burning, such as taking your debris to a yard waste facility or recycling or composting it.

Don't burn your garbage.

Contact your county solid waste office to learn about local alternatives to backyard burning of residential trash. Find local services

When can you burn?

Burning can only be done when allowed. Burn permits are only valid after daily activation. Check online or contact your local DNR forestry office to find out if burning is allowed.

Back to top