Thinking about burning those leaves? Don't. Here is what's better for you and the environment

Before you get out the torch and set fire to all those piles of leaves, keep your health and safety in mind.

Imagine it – The crisp, cool air, a pumpkin spice latte in hand, and the falling leaves making for a perfect start to the autumn season.  

You are enjoying those leaves changing colors and even falling from your trees, and suddenly, the panic sets in … What am I going to do with all of the leaves covering my yard? Thinking about multiple rounds of raking, constant upkeep of your lawn over the next several months, and all the work that needs to be done. That recent fondness of fall slowly fades away. 

Before you get out the torch and set fire to all those piles of leaves, keep your health and safety in mind. 

Health impacts from burning leaves

While it may seem easy to set flame to the leaves that you just spent hours raking, keep in mind the smoke that'll be produced and the air pollution that impacts human health. 

Those air pollutants can cause difficulty breathing, eye and nose irritation, coughing, and headaches. People with heart disease, asthma, emphysema, or other respiratory diseases are especially sensitive to air pollutants. Other health problems aggravated by burning include lung infections, pneumonia, bronchitis, and allergies, the Department of Natural Resources says. 

Other health websites warn of carbon monoxide poisoning. Breathing in the smoke can lessen the amount of oxygen in your lungs and blood, which could lead to short or long-term damage. 

What to do instead of burning

If you can handle the constant eye rolls or complaints from your neighbors, not doing anything with the leaves is a viable possibility. 

But if you don't want a letter from your HOA, here are some other options:

  • Rake 'em – Yes, this will lead to plenty of hours in your yard, but many towns have specific days in which they will come and pick up the leaves. Another option is buying lawn bags from your local hardware store and finding a place within your town for leaf drop-off.
  • Mulching – Get out your lawnmower and make a couple of passes in the yard. Some lawnmowers even have special blades that make this process that much simpler. Having this mulch actually helps your soil and provides a positive impact on the environment.
  • Compost – Throw them in your compost bin or garden! Organic material always helps aeration and moisture retention, especially in your garden.

Now if you really want to be crafty, HGTV says you can even make a leaf mold. If arts and crafts are not your thing, the options above work just fine and are approved by most homeowner associations.