How to Burn Branches

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Things You'll Need

  • Water hose or bucket filled with water

  • Black-and-white newspaper

  • Matches or lighter

  • Metal rake


If the fire becomes out of control, call 911. Having a cellphone with you while you burn the branches is helpful in case of such an emergency.

Keep children away from the fire.

Dry branches can be burned safely to eliminate unwanted debris.

Branches that accumulate in your yard require some work to remove. Burning the branches takes preparation, including watching weather forecasts for an appropriate day for the project. Only dry branches should be burned, and safety while burning the branches is a top priority. Ninety percent of wildfires are created by humans rather than natural causes such as lightning, according to a June 2011 press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Human-caused wildfires create major environmental impacts. So maintaining control over your fire to burn branches is important.


Step 1

Verify that you are allowed to burn branches in your location, and check whether or not restrictions or rules apply. For example, some areas don't allow burning within city limits, or a jurisdiction may require you to obtain a burning permit. Depending on your area, state, season and weather conditions, burning may be illegal. Not following codes and laws regarding burning could result in a fine and/or other punishment.

Step 2

Notify nearby neighbors about the day you will burn the branches.

Step 3

Look for a location to have the fire. Find an open area that is not directly under trees so that the fire will not spread to the trees or structures if it becomes too high or out of control.

Step 4

Clear dry grass, hay and other flammable material from the area where the branches will be burned.

Step 5

Verify that the wind is not blowing when you want to burn the branches. Wind can carry embers and burning pieces of wood beyond the fire, spreading fire to other locations.

Step 6

Set either a water hose attached to a faucet that is on or a bucket filled with water at the burn area. This precaution is necessary in case the fire gets out of control.

Setup and Burning

Step 1

Crinkle individual pages of black-and-white newspaper to form loose balls of paper. Place a handful of small, thin branches in a small pile with the balled-up newspaper interspersed between them. Don't make a tight, compact pile because fire needs air to burn.

Step 2

Light one of the balls of newspaper with a match or lighter. Add more newspaper to the fire to get the fire hotter.

Step 3

Add small dry branches to the fire. When the fire is burning steadily, add bigger branches. Gradually adding branches keeps the fire manageable. Break large branches into smaller pieces to keep them in the burn area.

Step 4

Move coals that separate from the fire's main area back to the main fire area with a metal rake. That helps to burn the branches and prevents the fire from spreading. You also can use the rake to maneuver large branches from one part of the fire to another part and to separate branches to allow air to flow between them.

After the Fire

Step 1

Put water from the bucket or water hose on the fire's coals until no smoke rises from them.

Step 2

Sift the coals with the metal rake to ensure they have no hidden hot spots.

Step 3

Pour more water on the area where you burned the branches to confirm the fire is out completely.


Kristen Warning

Kristen Warning is a professional writer for various websites. She has been involved in education for more than 10 years and is an avid equestrian, as well as a photographer, runner and gardener. Warning has a Bachelor of Arts from Western Illinois University.