Fire Resistant Landscaping
Updated: Nov 5, 2018
Last month’s fires were a powerful reminder of the dangers we all face living in a region prone to wildfires. Although location is the single most important factor contributing to whether or not a home will be burned, the landscaped area around the house can also be important in establishing
a first line of defense if a fire is on its way. With fire at the forefront of many peoples mind, now is a great time to take some preliminary action so that you don’t get burned. With a little forethought, you can create a landscape that is beautiful, sustainable, and fire resistant.
Establishing a “defensible space” is the first step in creating a more fire resistant landscape. The defensible space is the area around a home that provides firefighters the opportunity to protect the structure during fire events. This area typically extends out 100 feet beyond the home. For people living adjacent to fire-prone wild lands, proper maintenance in the defensible space area is critical. Start by clearing out dead material and thinning plants to create adequate space between shrubs and trees. Remove non-native species, especially invasive grasses which are excellent fuel for fire. Prune up mature trees so that their branches are not touching the ground and remove any dead branches. Gravel or decomposed granite pathways and rock walls or river beds can also double as fire breaks in addition to adding beauty and interest to your landscape.
When selecting new plantings, focus on CA natives that are fire resistant and drought tolerant. Some good choices for our area are California Lilac species, Manzanita, and Coast Live Oak. Within the defensible space of your home, it is advisable to irrigate even the most drought tolerant plantings periodically to ensure they have water stored in their tissue. A properly hydrated plant is much slower to burn than one that has already been dried out from a long dry season.
For more information about how you can protect your home, visit: http://ucanr.org/sites/safelandscapes/files/93415.pdf