Mulch Fire Prevention

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Mulch Fire Prevention

A mulch fire can damage your property and result in significant costs to your business.

Mulch catches fire for many reasons – dry weather, lack of water, spontaneous combustion, or as a result of careless smokers extinguishing cigarettes in the mulch.

Steps to reduce the risk of a mulch fire:

  • Provide designated metal containers for cigarette butts.
  • Place signs in designated areas warning smokers not to throw cigarettes on the ground, in the mulch or on any other vegetation.
  • Never use potted plants as ashtrays. Most potting soils contain peat moss, wood chips, vermiculite, and polystyrene which helps retain moisture but is highly flammable when dry.
  • Water mulch and vegetation regularly to keep moist.
  • Have a qualified landscaper maintain your outdoor vegetation by trimming trees, bushes and grass. Make sure vegetation is away from your building and other combustibles to minimize a fire’s spread.


  • Ensure electric landscape lighting contains the proper clearances so they do not heat mulch or other vegetation. Refer to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • To avoid self-ignition, do not store mulch in piles deeper than 10 inches and store bags of mulch in the shade.
  • Keep mulch at least 18 inches away from buildings and other combustible materials. Place 18 inches of noncombustible material, such as rock or pea gravel, around the perimeter of your building.
  • Ask what type of mulch is being used on your property and, if necessary, request the most fire-resistant material. Avoid rubber mulch and pine straw, they ignite rapidly producing high flames and spread quickly. 

This material is informational only. It is not intended to be, and is not in fact, a statement, in whole or in part, of GNY’s underwriting guidelines. Nothing said here amends or affects the interpretation, application, or both, of the coverage provisions in any GNY insurance policy; nor do the statements made here constitute a representation that insurance coverage exists for any loss under any GNY policy. Coverage depends on facts and circumstances of each individual claim or loss, the applicable laws, and the policy provisions in the GNY insurance policy.