Fire-Safe Landscaping Can Save Your Home


Every year, wildfires damage hundreds of homes and acres of land around the nation. Fire-safe landscaping is a powerful tool that establishes a defensible zone between your property and combustible plants, protecting you from deadly fires.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) recommends you to prioritize fire safety by understanding how to landscape and manage your property to reduce potential fire damage and delay flames if they start. Keep in mind that fire safety is your own responsibility… The Fire Stops With You!

Defensible Space Works

Several houses were preserved during the 2003 California wildfire as a result of the owners’ diligent pruning and landscaping procedures that safeguarded their properties. In a fire, the dead trees and bushes around your house serve as fuel for the flames. The removal of combustible vegetation minimizes the risk of fire. Follow these simple guidelines to establish a workable defensible area.

  • Remove any and all dead plants, trees, and bushes from the area.
  • Remove any extra leaves, plant pieces, or low-hanging branches.
  • Plant fire-resistant plants in place of dense combustible vegetation.
  • Plant selection, spacing, and upkeep are all critical components of any defensible space landscaping design.

Tips for a Fire-safe Landscape

  • Thinning trees and bushes within 30 feet of your house can help you create a defensive space perimeter.
  • Remove dead wood, garbage, and low tree limbs beyond 30 feet.
  • Remove little trees and plants that grow beneath trees. They enable ground fires to spread into tree tops.
  • Plant trees 30 feet apart and trim to 8 to 10 feet in height.
  • Plant bushes at least 20 feet away from any buildings and trim them on a regular basis.
  • To avoid fires, plant the most drought-tolerant plants within three feet of your house and next to buildings.
  • Allow at least 10 to 15 feet between islands of shrubs and plant groupings to effectively break up vegetative continuity.
  • To prevent fire from spreading fast, landscape your property with fire-resistant plants and vegetation.

Choose Fire Resistant Materials

  • Consult your local nursery or county extension department for information on fire-resistant plants suitable for your location.
  • Use stone walls, patios, swimming pools, terraces, and streets to create fire-safe zones.
  • Use rock, mulch, flower beds, and gardens to cover barren spots and create excellent firebreaks.
  • There are no “fire-resistant” plants. Choose plants with a high moisture content that grow close to the ground and have a low sap or resin content.
  • Plants that resist igniting, such as rockrose, iceplant, and aloe, should be used.
  • Hedging roses, bush honeysuckles, currant, cotoneaster, sumac, and shrub apples are all fire-resistant plants.
  • Plant less flammable trees such as hardwood, maple, poplar, and cherry trees instead of pine, fir, and other conifers.

Maintain Your Home and Surrounding Property

  • Maintain a well-kept landscaping that serves as a green belt and fire protection.
  • During the dry season, keep plants green and provide extra watering as needed.
  • Trim the grass up to 100 feet around your house on a regular basis.
  • Keep firewood at least 30 feet away from your house.
  • Store flammable items, liquids, and solvents outside the residence in metal containers at least 30 feet away from buildings and wooden fences.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your house, no matter where you reside. Change the batteries at least once a year and test them periodically. Consider purchasing new long-lasting smoke alarms.

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