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Open Burning of Yard Waste
When to Burn
Open burning of residential yard waste is allowed only during a three-week period in spring and during a three-week period in fall between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

The two, three-week periods are to be determined by the city along with state agencies and the state fire marshal.


Open burning is permitted during this period within the city of St. Joseph under the following guidelines:
  • Burning shall be allowed from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Burning of yard waste for residential properties only
  • All fires must be in an upright, cylindrical, metal container no larger than 55 gallons - containers must be located at least 15 feet away from any building
  • Only one burn container per residence is allowed
  • All fires shall be monitored from a point close to where the fire is located by a person capable of containing a fire, should that be necessary
  • Only dry yard waste such as leaves, brush, and logs grown on the property can be burned; no trash, paper, lumber, or building debris may be burned
  • Firefighting material, such as a garden hose or a container of water sufficient to contain any fire started, shall be at the site of the fire

Burning Ban

High winds may create a public safety or health hazard. The fire chief or health director may invoke a temporary burning ban. Any violation of the open burning restrictions may result in a summons to appear in court for a misdemeanor violation.


Residents are encouraged to explore alternatives to open burning. Many options for disposing of yard waste are easy, do not contribute to air pollution, are not dependent on time restrictions, or the weather, and provide the healthy benefit of physical activity while doing yard work instead of breathing acrid smoke from a waste fire.

Such activities include mowing leaves into fine particles and leaving them lay to fertilize the lawn or incorporating leaves into a mulch container to decompose into humus for use in vegetable and flower gardens, or for use on lawns as a soil amendment.

Larger wood brush that can be chipped makes excellent mulch around trees and shrubs. Family and friends with gardens may want additional yard waste to use as mulch.