Can You Burn Wood In Your Garden at Any Time of the Day?

  • By: CarlBroadbent
  • Time to read: 8 min.
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If you have a lot of old wood or garden vegetation, you need to get rid of, a fire may be a convenient option.

Of course, you may also want to enjoy burning wood as part of a celebratory Fourth of July garden party or outdoor get-together around your fire pit in the winter months. 

Burning wood in a garden can you do it
Burning wood in a garden

Depending on the size of your property and its location, you may be concerned that burning wood in your garden could affect neighbors or break the law.

In this concise guide, we outline the rules around burning wood in your yard, with advice and links for all 50 states.

Can I burn wood in my garden at any time of day? – a state-by-state guide

Use this table to find guidance on backyard burning in your state.

StateCan I burn wood in my backyard?More info
Alabama (AL)Restricted – Alabama restricts summer burning between May and October.Alabama burn law
Backyard burning in AL
Alaska (AK)Restricted – Many municipalities in the state require an open burn permit due to air quality regulations.Alaska burning applications (air quality)
Recreational burning in Anchorage
Arizona (AZ)Restricted – Small recreational or cooking fires do not require a permit, but anything larger requires an air quality permit.Burn permits in Arizona
Open burning guidance for Phoenix AZ
ArkansasYes – You can burn wood and vegetation that grew on the land without restriction.Yard waste open burning
California (CA)Restricted – Outdoor burn permits are required across California.Burning logs outdoors in CA
Outdoor burn permits CA 
Colorado (CO)Restricted – Smoke permits are required for open burns of woodpiles, vegetation, and yard waste.Smoke permits in Colorado
Connecticut (CT)Yes – But the burning must not create a nuisance to neighbors or contravene municipal restrictions.Open burning guidance for Connecticut
Delaware (DE)Yes – You can burn wood and vegetation whenever you want unless directed otherwise by a State Fire Marshal or the National Weather Service.Citizens’ guide to open-air residential burning in Delaware
Florida (FL)Restricted – Burning must take place between 8.00 AM EST and one hour before sunset.The wood must be in a pile of eight feet in diameter or less or burned in a container.Open burning advice – FL
Georgia (GA)Restricted – Several open burning activities have restrictions and require a permit due to air quality.Open burning rules Georgia
Hawaii (HI)Illegal – Backyard burning has been illegal throughout Hawaii since 2012 with a $10,000 fine if caught. They exempted cooking fires.Open burning guidance for Hawaii
Idaho (ID)Yes – Idaho permits residential burning of garden waste and wood unless a local ordinance is in place. Idaho burning guidance
Illinois (IL)Illegal – Backyard burning is illegal for everything except landscape waste. Illinois open burning guidance
Indiana (IN)Restricted – Indiana restricts residential open burning of clean wood in a burn barrel depending on property type and proximity to neighbors.Indiana residential open burning guidance
Iowa (IO)Yes – Residential burning of logs and firewood. Burning of garden waste is prohibited. Some municipalities require permits.Iowa burning guidance
Kansas (KS)Restricted – Kansas restricts residential open burning to household trash in a burn barrel for air quality reasons.Kansas open burning guidance
Kentucky (KY)Yes – Some municipalities require permits.Open burning guidance KY
Louisiana (LA)Illegal – Open burning in Louisiana is illegal. Exemptions exist for parishes with a population of 300,000 or less for garden waste on private property. At population of 90,000 or less branches and logs may be burnt.Louisiana open burning guidance
Maine (ME)Restricted – Outdoor burn permits from the town forest fire warden or local forest ranger are required. Maine open burning permit guidance
Maryland (MD)Yes – Maryland permits residential burning of garden waste and wood unless a local ordinance is in place. Maryland open burning guidance
Maryland open burn laws article
Massachusetts (MA)Restricted – Outdoor burn permits from the local fire department are required. Massachusetts open burning guidance
Michigan (MI)Yes – Michigan permits residential burning of garden waste and wood unless a local ordinance is in place. Michigan open burning guide
Minnesota (MN)Yes – Minnesota permits residential burning of garden waste and wood. Minnesota landscape debris burning guidance
Mississippi (MS)Restricted – Outdoor burn permits from the local fire department are required. Mississippi also enforces burn bans periodically. Open burning guidance. DeSoto MS
Open burning guidance. Brandon MS
Open burning guidance. Starkville MS
Missouri (MO)Yes – As long as the fire includes vegetation and untreated wood.Missouri open burning guidance
Montana (MT)Yes – But only firewood can be burned. The diameter of the fire should be less than 3 feet. Open burning of waste, including vegetation, is restricted. Montana advice on backyard fireplaces 
Nebraska (NE)Restricted – Outdoor burn permits from the local fire department are required. Mississippi also enforces burn bans periodically. Nebraska restricts smaller recreational fires to 3 feet in diameter using clean wood. Nebraska open burning permits 
Nevada (NV)Illegal – Open burning in Nevada is illegal. Exemptions exist, including small fires with vegetation or wood. Is it legal to have an open fire pit in Nevada?
Open burning guidance NV
New Hampshire (NH) Restricted – Outdoor burn permits from the local fire department are required.Open burning guidance New Hampshire 
New Jersey (NJ)Restricted / Illegal – Open burning has been banned across many counties due to recurrent statewide fire threats. Wood burning in New Jersey 
New Mexico (NM)Yes – Only wood is allowed to be burned openly in Albuquerque City of Albuquerque – open outdoor burning
New York (NY)Restricted / Illegal – Authorities have banned open burning across New York City.
In New York State, you can openly burn wood in districts with a population of less than 20,000.  
New York City burning restrictions
New York State open burning regulations
North Carolina (NC)Yes – Wood and vegetation is permitted to be burned on a private propertyNorth Carolina open burning guidance 
North Dakota (ND)Yes – Wood and vegetation is permitted to be burned on a private propertyNorth Dakota open burning guidance 
Ohio (OH)Restricted – Ohio bans statewide outdoor burning between 6am and 6pm during March, April, May, October, November. Further restrictions may be in place if air quality alerts, or emergencies are taking place. Exemptions require prior notification of Ohia Environmental Protection AgencyOhio open burning regulations
Oklahoma (OK)Yes – Oklahoma permit wood and vegetation to be burned on a private property. Some areas of Oklahoma require notification of the Forestry Division prior to the burn.Oklahoma outdoor burning guidance
Oregon (OR)Restricted – Open burning restrictions vary by county in OregonOregon open burning restrictions and exemptions
Pennsylvania (PA)Restricted – Many municipalities in the state require an open burn permit due to air quality regulations.Pennsylvania open burning restrictions (Hampton)
Rhode Island (RI)Yes – Open burning must be supervised, at least 30 feet away from roadways, and take place between the hours of 8am and 5pm.Rhode Island burning ordinances
South Carolina (SC) Restricted – Open burning restrictions vary by county in South Carolina South Carolina open burning guidance
South Dakota (SD) Yes – The fire must be contained and have adequate clearance from buildings and trees. Maximum diameter of stacked wood  is 3 feet. South Dakota open burning guidance
Tennessee (TN)Yes – Check local ordinances. Burning guidance for the State of Tennessee
Texas (TX)Yes – Check local ordinances.Outdoor burning in Texas guidance
Utah (UT)Restricted – Utah enforces mandatory no-burn days across the state. This is an air quality directive and is usually in place between November and March.Utah no-burn days guidance
Vermont (VT)YesVermont burning guidance
Virginia (VA)
Restricted / Illegal – A burn ban is usually in place between  February and the end of April. During this time, you cannot start a fire between midnight and 4 pm. VA burning laws
The 4pm burning law
Washington (WA)Yes – The fire must be contained and have adequate clearance from buildings and trees. The maximum diameter of stacked wood is 3 feet. Washington open burning guidance
West Virginia (WV)Restricted / Illegal – A burn ban is usually in place from March to May and October to December. You cannot start a fire between 7 am and 5 pm during this time. West Virginia open burning guidance
Wisconsin (WI)Restricted – A permit is required to burn lawfully.Wisconsin open burning guidance (including questionnaire)
Wyoming (WY)Yes – Burning must occur within daylight hours and finish 2 hours before sunset. Check the wind direction so that smoke is not blown towards buildings. Wyoming burning guidance

Key takeaways for burning wood in your backyard

If you are able to freely burn wood on your property, here are few last-minute considerations for ensuring your burning is a nuisance-free event:

Most recreational or cooking fires fly under the radar

Most states accommodate fires for camping, cooking or ceremonial events. They need to be small, ideally with a diameter of less than three feet. 

Your Guide To The Best Fire Pit Mats

Burn between dawn and dusk 

You can’t burn wood in your garden any time of the day. Stick to burning between dawn and dusk, which falls within the time ‌period specified by the Environmental Protection Agencies of most states.

Supervise the fire

Never leave a fire unattended. Stay with the fire until it is fully extinguished.

Have means of extinguishing the fire and a phone on-hand

Have a low threshold for fully extinguishing a fire before it gets out of hand. Most states will expect you to have a means of extinguishing the fire and a phone to call the fire department if there is an emergency. 

If in doubt, ask your local fire department

If you are unsure about your local regulations, your local fire department should be able to help you. It’s also worth letting them know you are going to burn wood, if the fire is large. 

Touch base with your neighbors

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No-one wants to be downwind of a bonfire, so letting your neighbors know that you are intending to burn wood is good courtesy. 

Rounding up

It’s clear that having a backyard bonfire isn’t as straightforward as you’d think.

If you are going to enjoy the firepit or burn off your garden waste, make sure you are on the right side of the law…and your neighbors!

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