Firescaping Your Yard – How to Use Fire-Resistance Landscaping to Protect Your Yard
Looking to create a warm, welcoming landscape around your home that’s easy to maintain and free from highly-flammable plants and materials?
While you can’t control Mother Nature, you can help improve the odds that your home will survive a wildfire by using fire-resistant plants and building materials in your yard.
Also known as ‘defensible landscaping’, the idea behind firescaping your yard is simple – replace all the highly-flammable plants and hardscape materials with flowers, shrubs, and stonework to create a natural fire barrier around your home.
Although there’s no such thing as a ‘fire-proof plant’ there are many species that are considered to be ‘fire safe’ due to their resistance to drought, low flammability, and minimal production of needles and ‘dead heads’ that can act as fuel for a wildfire. Some examples of fire-resistant plants include:
- French Lavender – Not only will this low-lying, drought-resistant plant help you conserve water, but it’s deep purple flowers and inviting scent will add beauty to any yard.
- California Fushsia – This deer-resistant perennial shrub can survive on very little water once it’s established, making it a great addition to any low-maintenance fire-resistant landscape.
- Aloe Vera – Aloe vera plants great to have on hand to treat minor burns and they’re also are a good choice for firescaping applications. As a medium-growing succulent perennial, aloe vera reaches heights of about two feet and needs very little water to survive.
- Coyote Brush – A California native, coyote brush is a dense, bright green ground cover plant that spreads up to six feet and can grow from 8″ to 24″ high. It’s a good choice for covering banks and other sloped surfaces.
Fire-Resistant Landscaping Materials
Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to eliminate all flammable hardscaping and building materials from your yard, such as wood chips, wooden fencing and planters, and even wicker and wood furniture. Here are some ways to integrate fire-resistant materials into your landscaping:
- Use bricks, concrete blocks, or boulders to create walls around the outside of your lawn
- When building a raised patio or deck, consider using flame-resistant engineered boards and metal instead of cedar or another type of wood
- Integrate decomposed granite, sand, and rocks into your landscaping to create visual interest while keeping flammable materials to a minimum
Other Important Tips
- Consider creating a gravel perimeter around the fence line on your property if space permits – this will serve as a ‘fuel break’, making it difficult for an active fire to move close to your home
- If you keep firewood to fuel a fireplace, pizza oven, or outdoor fire pit, be sure to store your wood a safe distance away from your house – the same applies for LP tanks
- During dry spells, consider using a manual reel mower instead of a gas mower – this eliminates the risk of sparks or oil leaks that could ignite a fire on your lawn
- Keep overhanging trees trimmed back at least 15 feet from your roof line
- Don’t plant trees below power lines
- Keep your yard raked and clear of organic material that can serve as fuel for a fire
- Always keep a garden hose connected and ready to use at every outside faucet
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