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IN THE GARDEN: To burn or not to burn

Although rain is an indicator, it is not the only variable to consider when judging whether to burn outdoors.

Now that fall is here, many will take this opportunity to burn brush piles (outside of the city limits.) We wanted to take this moment to cover steps that should be taken and go over favorable conditions for burns.

Note that prescribed burns are a different routine, beginning with a prescription and a plan. If you are considering a prescribed burn, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) says to “notify the Texas A&M Forest Service before carrying out any prescribed or controlled burns that are intended for forest management.” Also, contact your local agent.

Before you start your personal burn, call your local sheriff’s office. Officials will ask for your name, contact number, and address. Numbers for the local sheriff's offices are: Burnet County, 512-756-8080; Llano County, 325-247-5767; Mason County, 325-347-5252; and Williamson County, 512-943-1300.


Consider this:

  1. How’s the wind blowing? According to the TCEQ, winds should not be less than 6 mph or more than 23 mph.
  2. If winds are 8-15 mph, the relative humidity needs to be 30-50 percent. Check with your local AgriLife Extension Office for specific weather condition requirements. You can call the Burnet County AgriLife Extension Office at 512-756-5463, Llano County at 325-247-5159, or Mason County at 325-347-6459.
  3. Outdoor burning should start after sunrise and be finished before sunset.
  4. Never leave a fire unattended.
  5. Make sure you have water, a shovel, soil, and other means to control a fire.
  6. Clear, by mowing or grading, at least a 6-foot circle around your burn pile.
  7. Burn piles should only consist of brush, trimmings, untreated wood, or paper products. Black smoke means something is in the pile that shouldn’t be.
  8. Double check that small mammals have not made your brush pile their home. Stomp, fire up a weed trimmer, etc., for noise to scare any mammals, birds, or reptiles from the pile.


According to the National Weather Service, “A Red Flag Warning means warm temperatures, very low humidities, and stronger winds are expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger."

Our counties are under the NWS Austin/San Antonio region. For more information on Red Flag Days, call 830-629-0130 or visit the NWS local fire weather webpage for Red Flag Warning status.

ONE LAST THING: Don’t forget to twist your pumpkins.

Till next time. Keep your souls and soles in your garden! Remember the True Master Gardener: Jesus said, “I am the vine; my Father is the Gardener.” John 15:1

"In the Garden" is written by father-daughter duo Bill and Martelle Luedecke and Bill Luedecke. Contact Martelle at 512-769-3179 or Contact Bill at 512-577-1463 or

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