Can I burn trimmings from my French garden in spring?

Regular upkeep of your garden can result in a lot of déchets verts

Many people undergo maintenance of their garden in spring
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Reader Question: Can I burn garden cuttings during spring? I cut down many brambles in my garden last year. I left the trimmings where they fell so they should burn easily after being left so long.

Rules on burning garden waste are in place throughout the year and are not season-specific. 

A 2011 law banned the burning of déchets verts (green waste) in gardens. 

This includes: 

  • Grass that has been mowed

  • Dead leaves

  • Brush clearings, hedge and shrub trimmings and residue

  • Fruit and vegetable peelings

Your bramble trimmings fall under hedge residue, and therefore cannot be burned whether using just by lighting or by a larger garden incinerator. 

It is banned not only for safety reasons (to reduce the risk of any fires) but also due to the toxic emissions that burning green waste can emit. 

The choices are either to mulch or compost the trimmings at home or to take them to a local tip/recycling centre (déchetterie). 

However, tips in some areas, including Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine), have stopped accepting grass clippings entirely. In such areas, people are encouraged to mulch, compost or reuse grass clippings.

Read more: Is home composting now mandatory in France?

Note this is not related to laws on débroussaillage. 

Read more: Why the French government wants you to clear up your garden

What if there are no green waste disposal centres near me? 

However, in the case where you do not have a déchetterie that can take green waste nearby, or have a green waste collection system as part of local bin services, you can ask your mairie for permission to burn it. 

This is also the case if you are burning trimmings to fight certain invasive plant species although this is unlikely to apply to your hedge trimmings. 

Read more: Grass cuttings are no longer accepted at some public tips in France

What are the risks of burning garden waste? 

As mentioned, burning garden waste produces toxic emissions, as well as heavy smoke, and increases the risk of fire, especially in wooded areas.

Anyone caught burning green waste without permission can face a fine of €450. 

In addition, neighbours may start a disturbance dispute against you over the smoke or smell.