Wildfire Advice: Fireproofing with Your Landscape

By John Voket


I had the unfortunate experience of living through a suburban wildfire situation. So watching yet another spring wildfire tearing through Los Angeles county has prompted a review of firesafe protections for those living in areas that could be more prone to wildfires.

This first of two segments zeroes in on issues you can manage on your property to help hedge against wildfire damage. Some great advice is available from Oregon State University (http://oregonexplorer.info/wildfire/WildfireRiskHomeowners). According to the site, homeowners in fire-prone areas should make sure that the plants and landscaping materials they use are fire resistant.

When planning landscaping projects, remember that a fire safe landscape shows off plants and other garden elements by leaving space between plants and groups of plants. More tips are available through the US Fire Safety Administration, including:

• Create a defensible space perimeter by thinning trees and brush within 30 feet around your home.

• Beyond 30 feet, remove dead wood, debris and low tree branches.

• Eliminate small trees and plants growing under trees. They allow ground fires to jump into tree crowns.

• Space trees 30 feet apart and prune to a height of 8 to 10 feet.

• Place shrubs at least 20 feet from any structures and prune regularly.

• Plant the most drought-tolerant vegetation within three feet of your home and adjacent to structures to prevent ignition.

• Provide at least a 10 to 15 foot separation between islands of shrubs and plant groups to effectively breakup continuity of vegetation.

• Landscape your property with fire resistant plants and vegetation to prevent fire from spreading quickly.

• Create fire-safe zones with stone walls, patios, swimming pools, decks and roadways.

• Use rock, mulch, flower beds and gardens as ground cover for bare spaces and as effective firebreaks.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.