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Bonfire and wet leaves - help

Hello everyone!

I want to ask all of you, how to lit the massive pile of wet leaves without using a petrol?

I was trying to set the fire with old cardboxes, and dry branches, but everytime when I want to add the leaves, fire getting choke  and gone in minutes.

What to use to get a high temperature inside, and long last fire?



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  • Rarely have bonfires now, but an old tyre used to work. You're going to struggle to burn wet leaves though. If you do get it burning you will cause a heck of a lot of white smoke.

  • You will struggle to burn wet leaves unless you got a good heart in the bonfire and even then you have to do it piece meal. Why are you burning the leaves? Can you not pile them up somewhere to rot down  or put them into a dumpy bag and take to the recycling  centre? To me it would be a lot more quicker to take it to the recycling centre rather than trying to feed the fire. 

    • I got the garden from previous gardener, who filled up three compost heaps and never turn it, so they are quet full (I'm working on it now), but when I got this job it was begening of autumn, so more leaves fell from the trees, and my client decided to build a pile with leaves from the lawns and burn it...
      What about paraffin? What do you think?

  • The reason I rarely have fires now is that the customer wants their waste disposing of on the cheap while I am the one taking the risk- my liability insurance doesn't cover bonfires and if it goes wrong I will get a huge bill and a rollicking. I once accidentally started a tree on fire but I managed to put it out, could have ended up quite badly,  So now if customers ask me to burn rubbish I politely decline. 

  • bit late to burn last autumnn's leaves sadly, they are mostly mulch now. Best just to hide under some bushes somewhere and they will rot down

  • Petrol... Parafin... Diesel................. when the leaves are wet and soaked, you'll never get them to burn on their own whatever you use.   If you've got a decent large fire going with wood/logs,... really needs to be red-hot....... you can then slowly add the wet leaves but even then it's going to be difficult.  You'll have to find another way of disposing of them I suspect. 

    • PRO

      You will only succeed in igniting the fuel or combustable material but not the leaves . 

      In a large garden its easier to dispose of them discreetly if you have some sort of caged trolley on wheels it helps meaning fewer trips . 

      Also useful and more manageable are the local authority garden waste disposal bags which fit nicely on top of a wheel barrow making them easier to move which you can buy from Lordswoods and a lot more manageable than the builders bags which are easy to fill but impossible to move once full even after three shredded wheats for breakfast . 

      Sometimes if there is room in the garden i put leaves in black poly bin bags if not too slimey and they rot down into useful mulch .


  • Is there no usable compost in the existing bins that you could spread and therefore free up space for the leaves? Or perhaps turn out the bins and put it all back in but piled as high as possible, again to free  up space. Or build another bin, it would probably be quicker than trying to burn the leaves.

  • Sometimes it's best to knuckle down and just get stuck in.  Clear out the compost heaps, use what you can and re-compost the rest.  

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