Step by Step: How to create fire-resistant landscapes

May 5, 2017 -  By

Contractors in regions that are prone to wildfires can use proper planning and smart design to help protect their clients’ homes.

Begin by creating defensible space around the property by designing the landscape to act as a barrier to impeding flames. Any plants near the home should be widely spaced out and low-growing to prevent the spread of flames from one plant to another. Incorporating rock, mulch and stone pathways among plants also can prevent fire from spreading.

Next, choose drought- and fire-resistant plants. Drought-tolerant plants have built-in features, such as waxy leaves, the presence of fine hairs and deep roots, to minimize water loss and maximize water uptake. Native species often best serve this purpose. Be sure to incorporate a variety of plants to ensure one problem or disease will not create an entire garden of dead, dry plants, which can more easily catch fire.

Lastly, offer clients an option for maintaining the landscape by caring for and watering the plants as directed. Keep grass around shrubs and plants short, and keep mulch fresh to conserve moisture. Rake up leaves and debris as they accumulate, and dethatch and aerate the lawn regularly to help water and oxygen reach the roots.

Follow these steps to create a fire-resistant landscape.

Step 1

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Create defensible space around the property by spacing low-growing plants widely apart and adding rock, mulch or stone pathways to act as flame-resistant barriers.

Step 2

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Select a variety of drought-tolerant native plants. Selections will vary based on your location. Check with your region’s extension service for recommendations.

Step 3

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Maintain the landscape by caring for and watering plants as directed, keeping mulch fresh and keeping turf healthy.

To download a PDF version of this page in the April issue, click here.

Source: Timberline Landscaping
illustrations: David Preiss

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