If your home is situated in an area vulnerable to wildfire, designing and creating a fire-resistant landscape should be considered. Here are some easy steps to provide some protection to your home:
Mulches: Bark mulches in the landscape add organic matter to the soil as they decompose, conserve soil moisture, control weeds and keep the soil cooler than rock mulches. However, when working to create a fire-resistant landscape, bark or wood chips shouldn’t be considered. Instead gravel or rock mulches are best, especially when mulching areas that are close to buildings, fences, wood decks or other wooden structures.
Raised beds: Raised beds are predominantly constructed out of wood. In fire-vulnerable areas, it is better to build raised beds with bricks, concrete blocks, rocks, corrugated metal or other nonflammable materials.
Landscape maintenance: Yard cleanup and the removal of plant litter is one way to reduce fuel for wildfires. Rake the layers of dead pine needles and arborvitae foliage beneath evergreens, dry leaves that have piled up in nooks and crannies around the yard, or bunches of dry plant litter anywhere else. If pines or other needled evergreens are situated close to your house, regularly remove their litter that accumulates on the roof and in gutters.
Keeping potential sources of fuel in mind, be sure to store any firewood 30 to 100 feet away from structures and also keep vegetation away from area. Eliminate any piles of plant litter, such as grass clippings. Also, remove dead shrubs and tree branches in your landscape. Cut down weeds and brush in areas of your property that are not landscaped.
Lawns: Green lawns do resist fire well, and efforts should be taken to maintain this green space around your home. You should water deeply and less frequently to save water and promote a healthy green lawn.
Trees: Consider pruning the lower limbs to remove fuel that allows the fire to climb to the top of trees.. Pruning off limbs from 6 to 15 feet up is recommended. For the health of the trees, this is best done with proper pruning cuts when the trees are young.
Landscape design: Creating “Fire Smart” landscape is important, especially if located a vulnerable area. You can help defend your home with sound Fire Smart landscaping.