Help Protect Your Home with Fire-Resistant Landscaping
Californians are no strangers to wildfires. In 2019 alone, 8,194 wildfires burned 259,148 acres in the Golden State, according to the Insurance Information Institute. With that in mind, you’ll want to do everything possible to protect your home. That often begins with a fire-resistant landscape, or plants with foliage and stems that don’t significantly fuel or intensify the fire. Here’s a simple guide to get you started.
- Native plants that are tolerant to drought and don’t require much watering, such as succulents and aloes
- Native trees with thick bark that makes them more tolerant to fire
- Slow-growing plants that are hardy and easy to maintain
- High-moisture plants that grow close to the ground with little or no sap or resin
- Fire-resistant shrubs such as hedging roses, honeysuckles, currant, cotoneaster, sumac and shrub apples
- Hardwood, maple, poplar and cherry trees that are less flammable
- Invasive plants that are not native to the area as they can escape your yard and form a continuous fuel bed
- Plants that shed dry bark or leaves, such as eucalyptus and palms
- Plants with a lot of dead thatch and/or oil, such as fountain grasses and juniper
- Highly flammable plants, such as Italian cypress, pine, fir, spruce, eucalyptus, junipers, palms and some ornamental grasses
Fire-resistant plants contain plenty of moisture, which makes them more capable of resisting heat and flames. But it’s important to understand that while fire-resistant plants can help minimize the spread of the fire, they are not invincible. All plants will burn given the right conditions. With that in mind, here are some fire-resistant options to consider.
Trees: California live oak, native redwood, maple, citrus, cherry, apple, crabapple, honey locust, dogwood, ash, loquat, white alder, hawthorn, quaking aspen and redbud
Plants and shrubs: Aloe, California lilac, Columbia lily, San Diego sunflower, cotoneaster, currant, pineapple guava, flowering quince, Island bush poppy, Pacific wax myrtle, honeysuckle, raspberry, roses, yucca, coreopsis, California fuchsia, and viburnum
Ground covers: Woolley yarrow, Ajuga reptans, purple rockrose, creeping thyme, ice plant, wild strawberry, lantana, African daisy, wooly thyme and star jasmine
Maintenance is Key
It’s the homeowner’s job to make sure plants and trees are properly watered and maintained, and to ensure they’re planted at the proper distance. Here’s what you need to know.
- Plant trees at least 10 feet apart – and at least 30 feet from your home or other structures
- Avoid planting in large masses and opt for small clusters instead
- Prune trees regularly to remove low-hanging branches and any dead wood; increase the height from the surface to the base of the tree crown, and thin out the foliage to decrease density
- Remove dead leaves, pine needles, weeds and dry grass from the area
- Remove any vegetation that acts as ladder fuel, which means it can carry fire from the surface to taller plants
- Mow grass regularly to maintain a height of three inches or less
- Substitute compost, rocks or pebbles for wood-chip or pine-needle mulches
- Eliminate dead or dying trees, shrubs and ground cover
- Use concrete or stone patios, walkways and walls to create fire-safe zones near your home
While a fire-resistant landscape is by no means foolproof, it goes a long way toward protecting your home from the ravages of a wildfire. Start preparing today.
Download this infographic and share it with all those who may be affected by wildfires this year.
For informational use only. Not applicable to all situations.