Spring yard cleaning season is well under way, and here at Don’t Move Firewood we’d like to share some pointers on how you can best dispose of your yard waste to minimize the spread of invasive species. It is important to realize that all types of yard waste- including tree branches, brush, leaves, and clippings- can potentially harbor invasive insects and diseases. Therefore, if you dispose of yard waste (sometimes also called “green waste”) incorrectly, you could unintentionally start a new pest infestation.
For smaller yard debris from your own yard, such as leafy thin branches, evergreen needles and cones, green clippings, or brushy materials, it is best to either let it break down naturally on site (whether through backyard composting, or just a standard brush pile) or through municipal composting (if available). In some areas under quarantine for emerald ash borer or Asian longhorned beetle, there are specific wood disposal areas called “marshalling yards” for safely disposing of quarantined woody waste items. It is NOT advisable to use your leafy material for fill on other properties, and of course it is never a good idea to dump it or otherwise dispose of it illegally.
For woody materials, such as tree trunks or medium-to-larger branches from your own property, these can either be chipped on site for mulch, bucked and split into firewood for use on site, or brought to a municipal composting facility (if available).
Because pest infestations can take years to be recognized by the authorities, let alone homeowners, it is critical to remember that even trees and shrubs that appear healthy could be harboring harmful organisms. Even well seasoned firewood should be used locally- preferably on site- and not taken long distances for camping.
Many states have regulations or quarantines relating to the movement of firewood- which can include things like cut logs and branches. For a complete map of firewood regulations, visit our Firewood Regulation and Recommendation Map.
Here are some tips for what to do with fallen branches or tree trunks on your property:
- Make it into firewood and use it in your own fireplace, wood stove, BBQ, or outdoors fire pit! Logs and cut branches should be split and dried in a covered stack for at least six months (and preferably longer) to “season” it. Properly dried “seasoned” firewood burns hotter and creates less air pollution.
- If you don’t want to keep this firewood on site, don’t be tempted to take it with you when camping this spring or summer. Instead, you can give it to your next-door neighbor for their home heating use, or burn or chip it on site, or dispose of it at a municipal composting facility or a quarantined area marshalling yard.
- Hire a tree service or rent a tree chipper to shred your fallen trees and branches on site into mulch to use in your own garden beds and landscaping projects.
- If a yard waste recycling or municipal composting program is not available- and you cannot leave the materials on site to break down naturally nor do you want to make it into firewood- your brush, logs, and branches should be disposed of in a local landfill.