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To Burn or Not to Burn? Leaf Removal in Wilton

How should Wiltonians rid themselves of those pesky fixtures of fall in their yards?

At this time of year, many residents are faced with giant piles of leaves after raking their yards and have different methods for doing away with them.

Some compost while others choose to collect the felled matter in the giant, tubular, brown paper sacks seen lining the streets. Still others burn their leaves, which can “cause a great amount of smoke and a nuisance for downwind neighbors,” according to Fire Inspector Rocco Grosso.

Though the Fire Inspector understands that there is no easy way to rid your yard of leaves and other debris, and that many residents choose burning for this reason, he notes that it is also not permitted in town.

“I think the most common burning here is that of yard debris such as fallen branches and twigs,” he said.

A burning permit can be obtained for brush of less than 3” in diameter and may be applied for at the Fire Department. Your burn site will be inspected for distance from combustibles and access to water to extinguish the fire, if and when necessary.

Whether or not a permit is obtained, burning can still be prohibited on windy days, during dry conditions, or on days with poor air quality. These conditions are monitored daily by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

On their website (www.ct.gov/dep) one can find the fire danger and air quality index for any given day.

If you choose to bag your leaves and bring them to the curb, they must be kept separate from other recyclables and garbage. The town does not provide pick-up service of leaves, nor are they accepted at the transfer station, so employing a landscape service to remove them is your safest option.

If you are lucky enough to have a wooded area or wetland on your property, the leaves can be left there to allow nature to take its course and not provide an eyesore. In this case, disperse them throughout that area instead of creating a pile; this will allow them to decompose evenly.

Arguably the most eco-friendly option for disposing of leaves is to compost them on your property. Shredded leaves create a rich humus additive for the soil of gardens and lawns. Composting can be as easy as running your lawnmower over the leaves every few days and letting the shredded matter settle into the lawn to provide its benefit next spring.

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