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Preventing Mulch Fires at Home and on the Farm

In addition to making your landscaping look good, mulch can work wonders on your garden or farm. Not only does it improve plant growth, but it conserves waters, moderates soil temperature, suppresses weeds, and so much more. But it also poses some danger. In today’s blog, we discuss how to prevent mulch fires that can cause damage to your home or farm.

Can Mulch Catch Fire?

Yes, many types of organic mulch are combustible. Wood chips, shredded leaves, pine needles, and even shredded rubber mulch can be susceptible to catching fire in the event that it comes into contact with a spark. In fact, there is even some research that suggests that spontaneous mulch combustion is possible. In spontaneous mulch combustion, the mulch fire seems to be sparked by certain atmospheric conditions rather than a stray cigarette or a spark from a firepit or grill.

How to Prevent Mulch from Catching Fire?

When mulch catches fire, it can spread to the area surrounding it. This can be especially dangerous in dry, windy climates that are more susceptible to grass and wildfires. Here’s how to prevent mulch from catching fire on your home and farm.

Leave Space Between Combustible Mulches & Home & Farm Structures

The closer combustible mulch is to your home or farm structures, the greater the chance those structures could catch fire during a mulch fire. Leaving at least 18-inches between combustible mulches and any structures or decking can help prevent mulch fires that spread to your home, your farmhouse, your barns, or your deck.

Use Non-Combustible Mulches Near Home & Farm Structures

Just because you shouldn’t use combustible mulch near these structures doesn’t mean you can’t mulch the area. Stone, rock, sand, and other non-combustible mulches can help retain moisture in the soil, suppress weeds, and keep plant roots cool without posing a fire hazard.

Leave Space Between Combustible Mulches and Your Grill

Errant sparks from your grill could potentially end up smoldering and igniting your mulch. That’s why it’s best to do your grilling away from any combustible mulch.

Regularly Wet Your Mulch

Especially if you live in a dry and windy climate, regularly wetting your mulch can help prevent mulch pile fires.

Dispose of Cigarettes Properly

Putting out your cigarettes near mulch, potted plants, and other landscaping material can start a mulch fire. While you likely won’t see an immediate flame, mulch can easily to start to smolder, which can quietly spread underneath the mulch bed, only erupting later during high winds and dry weather.

Keep Mulch Away from Fire Pits

One question we’re frequently asked is if you can put mulch around a fire pit. Combustible mulch should never be used around a fire pit, as it can easily catch fire and spread. Instead, consider using rocks or stones, which are non-combustible.

Now that you know how to prevent mulch fires, it’s time to make sure your Home and Farm insurance is up to date. In the meantime, check out our insurance blog where we cover everything from wildfire action plan ideas to the importance of farm fencing for livestock.

The content available via is for informational purposes only and may not be used for any other purpose. Content provided or expressed on, including that of third parties, may not reflect Grange Insurance Association’s (GIA) policies or conform to any agreement you may have with GIA and its subsidiary companies. Please contact a licensed insurance agent to obtain particular advice.

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