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Is Mulching Better Than Burning?

January 26, 2023

Mulching is better than burning, and while it is not a free service you end up with a better overall product.

At Oregon Land Maintenance and Reclamation, we care about and want to preserve the integrity of your land. Our customers are more than a dollar sign to us, and we want to make sure that we provide a good product and a beautiful overall outcome. A mulching and land clearing project should benefit the landowner in the long run rather than just being a short term solution.

There are a few reasons we believe that mulching is a better solution than burning . You have more control over the outcome, it benefits the soil, there is lower fire risk, and you save your time.

To expand on those reasons…

The outcome is more controlled and your land benefits from it

You might be clearing, logging, cutting down or removing material from your property to renew and restore your land, prepare for a project, or simply to clean up the aesthetic. Fire is a fickle thing and it can be hard to control or predict exactly what it might do, especially to the land underneath your burn piles.

If the fire gets too hot it can scorch the soil, therefore hurting the outcome of the soil. Nutrients and nitrogen can be lost, therefore diminishing the desired effect of prepping your land. Your goal might be to prepare land to be replanted, but if the soil underneath your burn piles gets scorched it doesn’t preserve the nutrients to give back to future plantings.

It can be tempting to burn invasive species like blackberries and poison ivy/oak but this isn’t always the best option for removal either. Burning things like blackberries could allow more to come back than when you started as burning removes competitive species. Burning poison ivy/oak can release the oils with the smoke and can cause it to spread, and can be harmful and cause lung irritation if inhaled, or if it comes into contact with your skin you might find yourself with a break out.

Mulching biomass is effective for preserving the nutrient in the soil. The resulting biomass can be left in place on the ground and will breakdown and return the nutrients back into the soil. Therefore allowing the land to stay rich in the necessary nutrients, giving your future plantings a viable and welcoming place to grow.

We have found that while blackberries can be nasty to get rid of, if they are mechanically removed with the mulcher, and then sprayed afterwards you are still achieving your desired outcome of getting rid of them, while also making sure they don’t spread. If you allow us to handle your poison ivy/oak if the plants release their oils, instead of putting yourself at risk it would come in contact to the machine and not to anyone’s skin or lungs.

You can mulch all year round and lower fire risk

There is a specific window of time when you are able to burn, but we are able to mulch all year round. Wildfires continue to dominate in the Oregon summers, and burning comes with the risk of starting an unintentional fire.

You might not be able to complete your project in the time allotted for burning, but that doesn’t have to stop you. Mulching can be completed at any time during the year. And it helps to release you of the liability of starting a fire outside of your desired burn. Not only does mulching not require any fire, when the fire risk increases we make sure to have proper fire equipment with a water tank and regulated hoses to protect the land from any potential sparks.

It’s our time not yours

Maintaining and watching a fire takes time. It takes time for you to remove and pile material, and time is a precious thing. Mulching is a faster solution, and it's our time, not yours that is needed to complete the project.

What you might be able to accomplish in days, we might be able to achieve in hours, mulching machines work quickly. The time that you save by allowing us to do the work for you allows you to complete other projects you might have, or take some time for yourself or family.

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