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How to Prepare for Spring Fire Season with Firewise Landscaping
Spring will be here before you know it, and that means spring fire season will be starting as well.
You can protect your home from spring wildfires when you design your landscape using firewise principles.
Prepare for Spring Fire Season with Firewise Landscaping
Did you know that you can design your landscape to be firewise? Indeed you can prevent wildfires from getting too close to your home by using firewise landscaping principles in your landscape design.
Your goal with firewise landscaping is to keep your house safe when a wildfire starts closing in.
You first need to create defensible space between your property and any woodlands. Use these steps to create a secure area in your landscape:
- Break up plants, shrubs, and trees so a fire doesn’t have a straight shot from the woods to your landscape and up to your home.
- Keep firewise shrubs, trees, and perennials 30’ away from your home. Again, you don’t want a continuous garden bed, but you want to break up the plants with stone paths or other xeriscaping to break up a fire line.
- Focus on adding plants that have wide, waxy leaves. For example, succulents, such as aloe and agave, work well in California, Florida, or Texas landscapes. Also, deciduous trees, such as maples and oaks, have broad leaves that won’t attract fire.
- Palms are the only broadleaf plants that catch on fire quickly. Limit your use of them in a firewise landscape.
- Avoid pines with their needle leaves that burn quickly when near a wildfire line.
If you’re not a green thumb but live in an area where wildfires are a real risk in the springtime or throughout the year, you want to hire a landscape designer who knows about firewise landscaping principles.
How to Design a Landscape Design Using Firewise Zones
When you create a firewise landscape design, you want to consider where each plant is and what type of plant you want to add to your property.
You also want to add hardscapes, gravel, rocks, stones, and boulders, as well as other features that discourage fire from spreading to your house, but is also sustainable.
Keep the following in mind when designing your landscape using firewise zones:
- Zone one is 30’ from your home. Remove all dead and dry plants—including your lawn if you don’t want to water it regularly. Keep tree branches 10’ away from roofs and other trees.
- Zone two ranges from 30’ – 100’ from your home. Keep your lawn mowed to a height of 3” – 4” depending on the type of grass growing in your yard.
- Zones three and four exist outside of zone two if you have a large property that goes beyond 100’ from your home. Your goals for these zones include keeping any vegetation trimmed back and irrigated. Also, regularly prune trees to reduce wildfires from climbing up them.
Firewise Landscaping Plants
What you plant and how you maintain your landscaped areas, including trees and shrubs, determines how well you can prevent wildfires from spreading onto your property.
Here are eight landscaping plants and plant health care tips for creating a firewise property:
- Ensure you regularly prune your trees of any dead branches because the deadwood acts like kindling for wildfires.
- If your lawn extends out into any of the above fire zones, remember best lawn maintenance practices:
- Regular mowing by taking off the top third of the grass plants.
- Aeration and overseeding to relieve compacted soil and revive a dead lawn.
- An in-ground water sprinkler system to keep your lawn well irrigated. Add a timer to set when the sprinkler system should start and stop.
- Regularly feed your lawn with the appropriate fertilizer and weed control so that your property stays healthy and alive.
- Plant the right grass seed for the right part of your property. Don’t plant fescues that prefer part-shade in a full sun yard. Otherwise, the turfgrass will dry up and die—causing a fire hazard.
- Plant native flowers, shrubs, and trees that are naturally suitable for your area. Also, consider adding succulents and deciduous trees with broad leaves.
- Make sure that your trees and shrubs have enough space between them to avoid a fire line.
- Instead of using bark or pine mulch, use stones and pebbles as mulching materials.
- Consider adding more hardscapes with fire-resistant properties to keep wildfires from entering zone one.
- If you have a hilly property, make sure that there is plenty of space between trees and shrubs. Keep any grassy areas healthy and mowed.
- Don’t forget to add water features, such as pondless waterfalls, koi ponds, and bubbling fountains.
Can an Outdoor Sprinkler System Stop a Wildfire from Getting to Close to Your House?
Yes, an in-ground sprinkler system does keep a wildfire from getting close to your home by
- Reducing any dry or dead grass and other landscape plants
- Keeping the grass wet if a wildfire is heading toward your property
- A dripline keeps plants closer to your home well-watered and healthy because the larger water drops go right to the root system
- Bubblers keep your trees and ground covers well-irrigated during a dry spring and summer
- Lawn sprinklers and driplines for landscaped areas are designed to deliver water deep into the root zone, keeping plants well-hydrated and storing moisture for a longer time.
If you live in an area where spring wildfires are a reality, you may want to redesign your landscape to make it firewise.
Don’t forget to add an in-ground irrigation system and dripline to keep your plants and lawn well-hydrated, keeping wildfires far away from your house.
How K-Rain Sprinkler System Products Keep Your Landscape Firewise
At K-Rain, we have design plans and irrigation products for you to build an outdoor sprinkler system. You can also find a contractor near you who’ll design and build a lawn sprinkler system onto your property.
Gardening Solutions at the University of FL, “Firewise Landscaping.”
Ibid, “Wildfire Risks.”
ThisOldHouse.com, “Firesafe Landscaping: Defensible Space.”