Currently, most of Washington, Oregon, California, and parts of Idaho remain engulfed in flames. According to local authorities, this year is one of the worst wildfire seasons on record. If you are wondering what you can do to keep your home safe, keep reading!
We gathered information from a local firefighter and government resources to provide you with action steps and tips for creating a fire-resistant landscape. We want to help you protect your home and community!
Create a Defensible Space
The most impactful thing you can do is create a defensible space around your home and property. The goal is to clear away any fire hazards or fire fuels to create a buffer between flammable shrubbery and your property. This dramatically increases your home's chances of surviving a fire by reducing its proximity to direct flame and heat.
Defensible space also provides a way for firefighters to protect your home and fight the fire. Usually, officials divide up the landscape around your house into two zones. Zone 1 is anywhere within 30 feet of your structure, and zone 2 extends from 30 to 100 feet.
- Remove any light fuels like dead grass, weeds, sticks, pine needles, and leaves. Don't forget to clear under decks, too!
- Keep lawn alive and well-watered
- Relocate firewood into zone 2, or further, if possible.
- Clear any low-hanging tree limbs and keep 10 feet between trees and shrubs to prevent vertical spreading
- Trim combustible shrubbery and plants near the house, and keep well-watered
- Move wood play structures to zone 2, or further, if possible
- Ensure patio furniture is not flammable (purchase metal or plastic instead)
- Space out and thin trees to decrease chances of horizontal spreading
- Separate garages or sheds from your home by at least 50 feet
- Store firewood on a non-combustible material (like gravel)
- Use hardscaping like paths and patios to create firebreaks throughout the yard
- Keep gas cans and recycling in a space free from vegetation
Fire-Resistant Landscape Design
If this fire season has made you re-think your yard's design and fire-resistant capabilities, consider some modifications so that you are ready for next year! As mentioned, keep your lawn well-watered. We recommend using an irrigation system, especially if you are in a high-risk area. Some homeowners even use a similar watering technique on their roof to prevent it from drying out. Don't forget to have experts regularly check your sprinklers to ensure everything is working correctly.
Consider adding a large area of hardscaping to your yard. Not only is a paver patio an excellent firebreak, but it also creates a relaxing, functional backyard space! Mulch and bark are great for plantings and flower beds, but they are incredibly flammable. Border your beds with gravel, river rock, or pavers for added security. As for flowers, there are plenty of perennials that are more fire-safe than others, so do some research before planting next years' garden!
Have you been affected by the fires? Let us know how we can help!
Stay healthy and stay safe!
For more information on defensible space or your county's evacuation plans, contact your local fire department.