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[IDEM] Alternatives to leaf burning return nutrients to the soil
Start Date: 10/26/2012 All Day
End Date: 10/26/2012
Entry Description

Clean leaf disposal creates landscaping products


As the change of seasons litter the ground with leaves, branches and other debris, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) encourages Hoosiers to dispose of leaves and other yard waste wisely. Mulching, composting and chipping leaves and branches return nutrients to the soil instead of disposal fires releasing harmful smoke into the air.


All smoke is harmful to human health and the environment. Smoke from burning leaves and wood waste contains carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, fine particles and ozone-forming chemicals. Burning leaves, grass clippings, weeds, wet wood and other high-moisture wood products increases the volume of these chemicals in the smoke.


IDEM Commissioner Thomas Easterly recommends safer, healthier ways to get rid of leaves this fall. “Air quality has improved in Indiana year after year,” said Commissioner Easterly. “One reason we’re breathing healthy air today is because Hoosiers are mulching leaves instead of burning them. Mulching gets rid of the leaves, which most people consider a nuisance, and provides a natural fertilizer come spring.”


Alternatives to open burning include:

·         Mulching – Mulch leaves and twigs by chopping them up with a lawnmower. This returns nutrients to the grass.   

·         Composting – Pile grass clippings, leaves, branches, weeds, and some food scraps in a container or on the ground. They will break down naturally into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. Many cities, towns and counties collect unwanted leaves and compost them.

·         Chipping – Borrow or rent a chipper to break down leaves and branches. Wood chips can be spread around trees and flower beds to retain soil moisture and control weeds.  


More information about leaf and yard debris disposal can be found on IDEM's website at


About Open Burning

It is always illegal to open burn trash. While IDEM never advises residential open burning, clean wood products, such as leaves and twigs, may be burned under conditions allowed by state rules and local ordinances. This includes burning clean wood products in an elevated, well-ventilated container with a mesh cover and with adequate fire extinguishing equipment nearby. Burning of any kind is prohibited in Lake, Porter, Clark and Floyd counties. Visit to see Indiana’s open burning requirements and to view IDEM's open burning brochure.


About IDEM

Established in 1986, IDEM ( implements federal and state regulations regarding the environment. Through compliance assistance, incentive programs and educational outreach, the agency encourages and aids businesses and citizens in protecting Hoosiers and our environment.



Entry Type:
Press Release
Entry Category:
  • Announcements
  • Category:
  • Business & Agriculture
  • Agency Name
    Environmental Management, Indiana Department of

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