WeatherWeather Science


Clear fallen leaves from your yard to mitigate fire danger

Carter Chavez Eastonville, CO
Posted at 3:33 PM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 17:33:56-04

You can't beat the satisfying crunch of fall leaves under your boot. Next time you hear that sound, let it serve as a reminder to take care of the leaves in your yard. October is Wildfire Prevention Month in Colorado Springs.

In Colorado Springs and many cities in Colorado for that matter, there are zones of elevated wildfire danger called the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). These are the areas where neighborhoods meet nature. You can assess your wildfire risk and learn more about the WUI by clicking here.

If you live in a WUI zone, clearing out your fall leaves is an important step to mitigate your home from wildfire. The dry grass, leaves, and pine needles in autumn can spread a fire quickly.

Melissa Hoffman, the wildfire mitigation program coordinator at the Colorado Springs Fire Department, urges residents to keep debris (such as leaves and needles) under 4 inches in depth and to keep fuels 1 to 3 feet away from their homes.

After raking your leaves you can put them in trash bags to be picked up, or you also recycle yard waste to Rocky Top Resources on Saturdays for their $5 drop-offs.

As an alternative to raking and removing leaves, you can mulch the leaves with your own lawnmower. Just be sure to take off the collection bin and you can run your mower over a shallow layer of leaves. The smaller size will allow quicker decomposition and will fertilize your lawn over winter. Plus, it is environmentally conscious to save a few plastic bags and a trip to the landfill.

Take caution though, Hoffman emphasizes that mulched leaves do not decrease fire danger because the same amount of fuel is still in your yard, just in another form. Keep mulched leaves under 4 inches deep and 1 to 3 feet away from your home as well.

If you prefer to let your leaves fly away, fair enough, but think about where those leaves land. Be a good neighbor and do your best to clear your yard.