Alternatives to Open Burning

To control air pollution, activities like burning yard waste, tree stumps, and trash are not allowed in Louisville Metro. However, there are alternatives to burning that will accomplish the same goal.

Yard Waste

Yard waste such as leaves, grass clippings, and plant material can be composted. When combined with kitchen scraps, straw, and other organic material, yard waste decomposes into a rich, black soil additive that can be used:

  • To improve soil in gardens and landscaping
  • As mulch for trees and shrubs
  • As potting soil in planters

The EPA has more information on composting, including how to create your own compost pile

Another option for getting rid of yard waste is to have it hauled away. If you live inside the Louisville Metro Urban Service District (USD), residential yard waste is picked up weekly on the same day as your recyclables. Louisville Metro's Public Works Department has more information on Solid Waste Management regarding yard waste collection. If you live outside the USD, or are operating a business, contact your garbage removal company to find out about your options for yard waste pick up.

Tree Stumps

Burning a stump to remove it is dangerous, bad for air quality, and illegal. However, there are several alternatives to burning:

  • Decomposition – Left alone, a tree stump will decompose naturally, although it may take a very long time depending on the size of the stump. However, there are products available that may be used to speed up the decomposition. Once the stump is soft enough you can cut it out with an ax or a pick. This option is relatively in expensive but will take some time.
  • Digging – Smaller stumps can be dug out using a backhoe. Hand digging is difficult even with a small stump. This is not a good option for larger stumps. Digging out a stump is a relatively quick removal method, but may be costly if it is necessary to rent equipment or hire a contractor.
  • Stump Grinding – This is a fast and easy but more expensive method of stump removal. Using a stump grinder, a tree removal specialist can grind down the stump up to 24 inches below grade. You can expect to pay $100 or more, depending on the size, to have a stump ground. If you have more than two stumps to grind it may be cheaper to rent a grinder. However, it is important to have the right size grinder for the job and they do take some skill to operate.

It is never OK to burn trash in Louisville/Jefferson County. Trash can be reduced significantly through the "three R's":

  • Reduce the amount of packaging and unnecessary material that you bring in (from the store or supplier).
  • Reuse what you can.
  • Recycle anything that is recyclable.

Within the USD, recycling is picked up weekly at the curb or alley. Louisville Metro's Public Works Department has more information regarding recycling.

For residents outside the USD, there are a couple of recycling options. You can:

  • Contract with a waste hauler to collect your recyclables where available; or
  • Take recyclables to one of several suburban recycling drop-off centers.

Trash that cannot be reused or recycled should be disposed of properly, in a trash bin.

For most residents living outside of the USD or a small city, this means contracting with a waste hauler.

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