Friday, February 22, 2013

Protect Your Home with Fire Resistant Landscaping

As California and the Southwest continue to experience drier than normal conditions, it is important for homeowners to be "Firewise" in their landscaping choices. Maintaining a fire resistant property entails careful planning and regular maintenance. By paying attention to what you plant, removing dead and dry plant materials, and keeping a defensible space around your property, you will lower the chances of becoming a fire season victim. Plus, the more actions you take to protect your home, the more likely it is that local fire fighting units will be able to extinguish a fire on your property.

Monkey Flower

5 Tips For Creating a Fire Resistant Landscape
  1. Use Fire Resistant Plants. The good news is that many of California's native plant species are both fire resistant and drought tolerant. This means that in addition to protecting your home from the threat of fire, you will also be conserving water. Another benefit to using native drought resistant landscaping is that birds, butterflies, and bees will be attracted to your backyard as they prefer the pollen, nectar, and berries from native plants. There are no "fire proof" plants, but fire resistant plants retain more moisture than other varieties, which makes the more resistant. Examples of fire resistant plants include
    • Monkey Flower (Mimulus)
    • California Lilac (Ceanothus)
    • Sage (Salvia)
    • Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
    • Coast Live Oak
    • California Sycamore
    Bring this list to your local nursery and discuss your plans for a fire resistant landscape. The employees will be able to help you design a landscape that is both attractive and fire conscious.
  2. Maintain Defensible Space. Before wildfires became more prevalent, most experts recommended maintaining a defensible space of about 15 feet. Currently, most cities - including Redwood City - recommend maintaining a 30 foot boundary. If your home is close to tall grasses and trees, which are more difficult to contain once ignited, it is recommended you keep a defensible space of 100 feet around your home.
  3. Prune Regularly. Hire a professional landscaping maintenance company or an arborist to keep trees and shrubs properly pruned and cleared of dead branches and leaves. Not only will this enhance the health of your landscaping, it will minimize its ability to burn should sparks make their way into your yard.
  4. Keep Roof and Chimney(s) Clear. Make sure your roof and chimney are free of tree branches. Always clear fallen debris, such as leaves and twigs, from your roof and gutters. This dry material can act as tinder during fire season.
  5. Create Fire Resistant Barriers. Use rock gardens, rock walls, and heavily mulched flower beds - which retain moisture - to create additional fire barriers around your home. Also, when upgrading your home, ask your contractor(s) about fire resistant building materials, such as siding, insulation, and roofing products.  
In addition to creating a more fire resistant landscape, we recommend you and your family have a fire evacuation plan in place. Rehearse your evacuation plan every quarter to ensure everyone is on the same page. With a little planning and preparation, your family will be able to minimize fire damage, preserving your home and its valuable contents.

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