Landscape mulches offer a number of benefits. When properly employed, mulch is a really affordable way to add beauty, texture and color to the environment. Mulch also keeps weeds in check, conserves water, commands dust and also enhances the soil as it decomposes. Highly flammable mulches present a substantial fire risk.

Mulch Fires

Countless mulch fires occur across the USA every year, especially during warm, dry summer weather. Although small mulch fires can easily be extinguished, an unchecked fire often spreads into shrubbery and structures, endangering human life and causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage to homes and public buildings. Several cities have enacted laws that call for a mulch-free span of 18 inches around buildings.

Mulch Flammability

Flammability of mulch varies considerably and never all mulches can easily be ignited. According to research findings published in the “Journal of Arboriculture,” rubber mulch ignites readily when exposed to a propane torch, and once sparked, spreads readily and is difficult to extinguish. In the event of a manmade or natural passion, this is a significant issue. However, rubber mulch is comparatively resistant to ignition caused by a lit cigarette. Some organic mulches, like shredded pine bark, spark only following the mulch has weathered around the ground for 2 months. The study notes which fire-resistant mulches include cocoa shells, pine bark nuggets and shredded hardwood.


Standard watering that retains mulch always moist helps to prevent ignition. Avoid putting mulch near cosmetic lights or other electric devices. If you discover a mulch fire, extinguish the fire and then report the fire to 911 immediately. Recognition of the potential fire dangers associated with mulch is the very first step in preventing mulch fires. Because of laws which stop smokers from smoking in public areas, smokers often throw cigarette butts into mulch close to a construction entry. Providing fire-proof receptacles in public areas, and proper use of this receptacles, helps to get rid of mulch fires ignited by smoldering cigarettes.


Although mulch is attractive used around shrubs or in flower beds, a mulch-free zone of two to three feet around a construction is the safest way to stop serious damage caused by mulch fires. Pea gravel or crushed rock is a safer option if you require mulch alongside your construction. Coarser mulches are safer compared to finer mulches because large chunks retain moisture and ignite gradually while small ointments dries quickly and stimulate rapidly. Pine straw is nearly as flammable as rubber, so avoid it. A mulch layer of 2 to 4 inches is safest, and also helps prevent spontaneous combustion.

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