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My wooded yard continually produces a lot of limb debris, either fallen limbs or dead trees I cut down. The past couple years I have stacked them up in the woods but they take years to decompose and I now have too many unsightly piles. I considered a chipper but now think a burn barrel is all I need. Any tips aside from drilling a few holes near the bottom?

I don't have any but I always thought a couple steel milkcrates would help keep the burning wood up out of the ash collecting in the bottom. Any alternative ideas for something like this?
 

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Getting a burn barrel is rather easy, just get a standard 55 gallon one available most anywhere for $10-30. Once you get the barrel, remove the top with the bung hole, some have removable lids. Then use a bi-metal hole saw of 1 inch to make 5 holes in the base and 12-20 holes equidistant around the body. This allows air into the barrel, otherwise it just smoulders and will go out leaving unburnt material behind.
Set the barrel on either bricks or concrete blocks to raise it off the ground and allowing air to go up underneath. Even with that, you will get a radius of 3-4 feet around of burnt grass. If you move the barrel about, it does grow back. It is really best if after a burn, you empty the barrel of ashes. Just don't allow rainwater to saturate the ashes between burns as the rainwater and ashes combine to make a weak solution of sodium hydroxide, a caustic solution that will rust out the bottom quickly.
I use my burn barrel in one spot year round, made a concrete slab and set the bricks on that. It lasts for around 18-24 months before the heat of the burn rusts out the sides. When I do burns of the accumulated brush, limbs, big chunks of cut up trees and keep adding to the fire all day long, it generally burns everything to a fine ash in about three days. Then I empty it out somewhere else.
 

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Mine will sit in the big end of my gravel driveway which places it the furthest from any trees, house, etc. I'll set some feet of bricks to lift it up for air underneath.
 

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The best barrel that would last the longest would be one with a lid, it's the rain that soaks in the ashes that makes them rust away.
 

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Any tips aside from drilling a few holes near the bottom?
Make the holes large enough to stick in a tiger torch. Saves having to use oil to start the fire. Mind you, I do pour my used crankcase oil on top of the scrap in the barrel but the propane torch makes quick work of starting the fire.

I only burn when the area is either still snow covered or well soaked with rain. Of course I also need to pick a day with little wind and particularly blowing away from the house and clothesline.

Some folks turn burn barrels into works of art, cutting elaborate patterns in the side. Google or DuckDuckGo for artistic burn barrel for ideas.
 

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I use an old oil barrel. It is a round one, but those oblong ones would work too. They have a built in stand that I put on blocks. I cut a hole in the end and another at the top at the back to let the smoke out.

2449896
 
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