Let it Grow: Enjoy smells of autumn, not burning

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 15, 2005

It is fall and you probably have noticed all of the aromas in the air. The one aroma that I smell a lot this time of year is the smell of burning leaves. Though it is a pleasant reminder of my childhood, it is one smell I can live without.

As a child, I used to enjoy that part of autumn. Watching all of those dry leaves turn into a roaring golden flame and then into a huge plume of smoke was entertaining for a kid.

Though it was an easy and common way to rid your property of tree litter and the aroma was a welcome one, it wasn’t a good idea to burn leaves then and it certainly isn’t a good idea now.

There are so many reasons to not burn your leaves, I can’t name them all in one short article. Let me just name a couple of reasons.

By burning leaves, you are setting yourself up for a liability lawsuit from the fire spreading to other people’s property. You are aiding to health hazards such as respiratory disorders and possibly burning yourself or others. Hot ashes can fly to your neighbor’s property and do expensive damage. It’s not helping the environment. The leaves should be composted and used on your own property as a soil amendment. No matter how much we talk about it, some folks still practice this impractical ritual.

If you burn leaves, you are hiding the other, safer and more pleasant aromas. What’s that sweet smell? Chances are its Elaeagnus. This shrub has been used for years to hide HVAC units and as hedge rows. The Elaeagnus is in full bloom right now and smells so incredibly sweet. There’s not a store-bought perfume that smells this good. Take a drive through Waterford subdivision on Highway 70 sometime this week. Roll down the window and take in the aroma of the Elaeagnus lining the parkway.

The most common Elaeagnus that is used in landscapes is the ebbingei. They have small off-white flowers and produce some fruits in the winter. The fruits are ovate in shape, about 1/2 inch and have a flavor much like a wild plum. I have made a jelly from the fruit, but I don’t recommend it unless you have a nursery full of these plants. The fruit contains a pit that is bigger than the pulp area and it would take a bunch of these tiny fruits to make a pint of jelly.

Enjoy the natural smells of autumn and don’t create your own by burning leaves