When Can You Light A Fire In Your Garden?

Having a fire in your garden, whether this is a bonfire to burn rubbish or simply a celebratory beacon, is a fun – and sometimes necessary – thing.

But knowing when can you light a fire in your garden is essential knowledge, especially if you have neighbours who have hung out their washing that day! Let’s look into the ins and outs of fires in your garden.

When Can You Light A Fire In Your Garden?

There is no hard and fast rule about when you can have a fire in your garden. You should, however, do this in a way that is sensible and respectful to your neighbours!

Keeping an eye on the amount of smoke and the wind direction is a good idea, so that your fire doesn’t cause problems with traffic.

It is best to stick to burning organic materials such as wood and garden waste as this smoke is much less harmful than burning plastic, for example.

If you want to maintain good neighbourly relations, you should avoid lighting a fire if your neighbours have just hung our their washing!

It’s also a good idea to check what people are up to – neighbours having a gathering or a garden picnic will likely not appreciate loads of extra smoke.

This short article outlines the rules behind lighting a fire in your garden in the UK.

What Is The Legal Time To Have A Garden Fire?

There are no legal rule surrounding the times that you can light a fire in your garden. However, there are better and worse times to do so!

  • Having a fire in the evening or at night reduces the chance that you will annoy your neighbours. Be sure to warn them so that they don’t think your shed is on fire though!
  • If you live near a road, try to avoid having a fire at times of peak traffic, to prevent any drivers having problems with visibility.
  • Check the wind direction, and try to have a fire when the smoke won’t blow near your neighbours or a road.
  • Having a fire on a still, calm day is always a good idea, so the smoke won’t blow all over the place too much.
  • Although dry weather is obviously the best time to have a fire, it may be respectful and kind to do it on a weekday, when your neighbours are less likely to be out in their gardens.

This video will show you how to use a garden incinerator, to keep your fire contained and safe:

Is It Illegal To Have A Fire In Your Garden UK?

It is not illegal to have a fire in your own garden. As long as you are not setting fire to your household waste, you can pretty much do anything you like!

Certain things are more of a hazard when burnt, such as plastics – you should definitely dispose of these correctly, and not just burn them.

You may end up with some disgruntled neighbours, and possibly a knock on the door from a PCSO, if you burn a lot of things that create choking smoke.

It is always wise to let neighbours know that you are planning to have a fire, so that you can avoid any irate knocks on your door!

Although technically you can have a fire in your garden whenever you want, it is only common courtesy to let your neighbours know – and stick to burning organic materials.

Can I Burn Wood In My Garden UK?

Yes, you absolutely can! In fact, this is one of the least offensive things that you can have a bonfire out of.

Wood, although it creates smoke and does contribute to some pollution, is a largely natural and inoffensive thing to burn.

You should do a few things before you start your bonfire though:

  • Make sure the wood is dry. Burning damp wood will create much more smoke.
  • Ensure that it is not treated with anything. Burning wood that has been coated with chemicals is far more dangerous than burning natural wood.
  • Remove any paint or varnish. Burning paint or varnish can release all sorts of nasty chemicals.
  • Don’t go too mad. Keep your fire to a manageable size, to avoid any accidents.
  • Check the wind direction. You will need to avoid any smoke drifting across roads, as this can cause visibility issues for drivers and can cause accidents.
  • Always keep an extinguisher on hand. Whether this is a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water, you should always have the means to put out your fire if you need to.

How Do I Report A Neighbour Burning Rubbish UK?

Burning rubbish in your garden is a big no-no. Household waste can cause a hazard to health due to the smoke and chemicals released.

If your neighbour is having a fire that is clearly not organic material, there are a few things that you can do:

  • Go and have a chat. Knock on their door and explain that burning rubbish is not OK – they may not have known and be completely innocent.
  • Contact the Environment Agency. If your neighbour won’t listen to reason, further steps must be taken to protect the health of yourself and the air around you.
  • Check the direction of the smoke. If it is drifting across a road, this is against certain parts of the Highways Act, and can cause danger to motorists.
  • Contact your local PSCO. If your neighbours are burning household rubbish and will not stop, it may become an offence that they could be fined for.
  • Call a non-emergency police number. If you can get hold of your local police force, they will have the authority to stop your neighbours burning rubbish.

Final Words

Knowing when can you light a fire in your garden – and sticking to the rules – is a good way to enjoy your bonfires and still keep on the right side of your neighbours (and the law!)

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