Make Your Landscape Fire-Resistant
These Plants Have Good Looks & Fire-Resistant Charm
When it comes to preparing your landscape for the threat of wildfire, there’s no such thing as a drill. Maintaining readiness through proper clearance of brush and plant material is a year-round task. But there is one long-term strategy that can help you grow your landscape’s fire resistance, and it involves the plant material you choose.
While there’s no such thing as a fire-proof plant, you can select varieties with qualities that mitigate the spread of fire, such as those with low-sap or resin content, high-moisture, or plants that grow close to the ground. Here’s a look at some of the smartest choices for landscapes in fire-prone areas.
Get in the Zone
First up, let’s take a look at one the best practices of firescaping: zoning. Developed by the Los Angeles Arboretum, Zone Theory provides beneficial guidelines for creating a more fire-resistant landscape. Imagine drawing a bullseye around each structure on your property, with the structure at the center. Each of the surrounding circles represents a zone:
- Zone 1 extends 30 feet from a structure. This area should include fire-retardant plans unlikely to ignite.
- Zone 2 comprises the area 30 - 70 feet from a structure. This area should include fire-resistant plants designed to prevent further spread to Zone 1. This is a great spot for shade trees, so long as canopies are not continuous.
- Zone 3 consists of the area 70 – 120 feet from a structure. If the area is landscaped, fire-resistant plants similar to those in Zone 2 should be used, taking care to avoid dense plantings. Otherwise, the focus for Zone 3 and any remaining area up to the property line should be brush clearance.
Choose Your Landscaping Wisely
- Create breaks in your landscaping with either rock walls or stone paths.
- Try using mulch or ground cover landscaping for bare spaces this will act as a fire break.
- Choose high moisture plants that grow close to the ground or try fire retardant plant species.
California's Fire Resistant Plants
- French Lavender
- Red Monkey Flower
- California Fuchsia
- California Lilac
- Society Garlic
- Ornamental Strawberry
- California Red Bud
These are just a handful of species you might consider for your fire-resistant landscape. The lists here are far from exhaustive. Check with your local fire authority for a comprehensive list of plants well suited to your region. Or, talk to your landscape partner, who can help create a design that’s as beautiful as it is safe.
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