By Reita Nicholson
Ogle County Solid Waste Management Department
Spring is almost upon us and yard and property clean-ups will be going on as people prepare for the warmer months.
This time of year also is when some people conduct open burning of landscape waste as they go about their clean-up projects.
The Ogle County Solid Waste Management Department (OCSWMD) offers these guidelines as outdoor spring cleaning begins.
The open burning of landscape waste is generally allowed in Illinois but may be restricted or be subject to more stringent regulations if you live in or near a municipality.
If you do live in or near a municipality, check your local regulations prior to burning landscape waste.
Landscape waste can be burned as a method of disposal only if the material was generated on the property where it is to be burned.
Landscape waste and trade waste brought in from other locations cannot be burned as a method of disposal, and under no circumstances can household garbage, construction and demolition debris, tires, or furniture be openly burned.
If you are choosing to burn your landscape waste, monitor the fire at all times, and locate the fire at a point where it will not spread to any structure, field, or wooded lot.
Do not burn on very windy days and be sure that leaves are dry so the fire is hot enough to burn the material and not smolder.
If you have larger branches and logs to burn, be sure they have had sufficient time to dry out so they burn in a timely manner.
Be mindful of the smoke your fire creates and be respectful of your neighbors.
Smoke from open burning cannot create a visibility hazard along any roadway or other means of transportation and cannot create a nuisance for others.
Keep a source of water close by in case the fire needs to be controlled.
The OCSWMD recommends other means besides the open burning of landscape waste.
Leaves from the previous growing season can be mulched up with your lawnmower and their nutrients returned to the soil, or the mulch can be placed around plants and trees.
Leaves can also be placed into your compost bin if you are currently composting at home.
You can also package your landscape waste for pick-up and transfer to a compost site.
Check with your local waste hauler about landscape waste pick-up days and guidelines.
Contact the OCSWMD at 815-732-4020 if you have questions or concerns about the open burning of landscape waste and current regulations, or about other options for landscape waste disposal in Ogle County.