Fire-Wise Landscaping 101

These smart, fire-wise design tips help protect your home from wildfire.

October 17, 2011

Smart fire-wise design starts with creating a defensible space—an area surrounding the house that reduces the spread and intensity of an encroaching fire, giving fire crews time to put out the flames. Use these tips to help protect your home.

Build smart hardscaping. Use nonflammable materials such as stone, concrete, or brick for patios, pathways, and retaining walls. Avoid wooden decks and balconies.

Plant in zones. The plants closest to the house (within 50 feet) need to be low to the ground, very well irrigated, and extremely fire-retardant. Choose rock mulch or compost over flammable organic mulches, such as bark or wood chips.

Trim back. Plant trees at least 15 feet away from buildings and space them so they'll be 30 feet apart at maturity. Trim their branches 6 feet up from the ground and keep branches pruned back at least 10 feet from roofs so they do not provide a ladder for fire to reach the eaves.

Create firebreaks. Clear flammable vegetation between shrubs and trees. In late summer, remove dry brush from your property to reduce fuel content. Plant fire-resistant plants like echeverias.