Firescaping Your Yard and Garden

August 24, 2020
Fern

What can you do to protect your yard from fire?  Learn about “firescaping”—with 11 natural steps to help protect your property and make it less vulnerable to fire, especially if you live in a high-risk area.

Western wildfires are at historic levels, destroying over a million acres of land. That’s more than the size of Delaware. Tens of thousands of people in California have had to evacuate their homes, not knowing if they will have a house to go back to. These fires burn everything in their path and can consume your home in minutes. 

Though I watch helpless from across the country, Califoria’s fire season does give thought to how regular homeowners can take natural steps to protect their yards. This is especially true in a high-risk area but any of us can experience a fire on our property.

How to Firecape Your Garen

  1. Choose low-growing plants with a high moisture content that makes them less flammable.
     
  2. Don’t plant ornamental grass or high-resin plants such as junipers, conifers, or evergreens close to your house.
     
  3. Grow deciduous trees. They are more fire resistant than evergreens because their leaves have a high moisture content.
     
  4. Keep grass mowed and remove any dead weeds or plants from your yard.
     
  5. Store wood 30 feet from the house.
     
  6. Remove dead leaves, branches, and pine cones from the yard and from the roof and gutters of your house.
     
  7. Prune dead limbs from your trees.
     
  8. Remove any branches that hang over your roof.
     
  9. Keep any flammable outdoor furniture away from trees and shrubs.
     
  10. Remove vegetation from around and underneath your deck.
     
  11. Use fire-resistant mulch.

No plant is 100% fireproof but here is a short list of plants that were recommended by the US Fish and Wildlife Service:

  • thyme,
  • ajuga,
  • succulents,
  • creeping phlox,
  • yarrow,
  • coreopsis,
  • alyssum,
  • California poppies,
  • coneflowers,
  • columbine,
  • bergenia,
  • daylilies,
  • lupine,
  • lamb’s ears,
  • iris,
  • heuchera

See this wonderful firescape demonstration garden created by the city of Santa Barbara.

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Even if you don’t live in a fire-prone area, fire can happen anywhere. Many of these tips are just commonsense ways to protect your home from damage.

About This Blog

Get inspired by Robin Sweetser’s backyard gardening tips and tricks. Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. She and her partner Tom have a small greenhouse business and also sell plants, cut flowers, and vegetables at their local Farmer’s Market.

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