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Landscape Maintenance To Help Lower The Risk Of A Fire Hazard

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the year 2020 has recorded the largest wildfire season in the history of California. The wildfires are estimated to have covered close to 100 million acres of land. Although the intensity of the wildfires is believed to have been contributed by human-induced climate change, landscape maintenance can play a crucial role in reducing the risk of fire hazards.

Fire-Safe Landscaping

One of the ways of enhancing the safety of your property from wildfires is by designing and maintaining a proper landscape. This is achieved by making sure that you maintain a vertical and horizontal separation when planting trees. Whenever a fire occurs the distance between the trees reduces the spread of fire. It is also critical to establishing fire-resistant plants. Although all trees can burn given the right conditions, some trees burn more easily than others. It is also important to irrigate your plants properly. One of the safety precautions of reducing the chances of wildfires is by practicing routine removal of dead branches, leaves, and other flammable materials around the trees.

The use of hardscape materials such as granite paths is also important in fire-safe landscapes. These materials act as important fuel break barriers that help to deviate the path followed by fire or slows down the intensity of the fire. Other flammable materials like propane tanks and firewood piles should be kept away from your house. Homeowners with houses around the wild-fire-prone areas should consider building houses that are more fire-resistant such as sandbag houses.

Vegetation, brush, and fuel management

This ideally refers to the maintenance of vegetation as an attempt to reduce fire transmission from one plant to the next. It is important to understand that proper maintenance for fire safety does not necessarily suggest eradicating all plants but practicing a selective removal of vegetation that is more flammable.

Therefore, it is advisable to never plant trees near structures. When planting trees always remember to create plenty of room between trees not only to reduce instances of spreading fire but also for proper growth. The recommended defensible space should be approximately 10 feet between the edges of tree crowns in the case of a flat ground but the spacing could be more if the trees are to be planted on steep ground. As the trees continue to mature, it is advisable to prune branches 10 feet above the ground. In wildfire-prone areas, it is always advisable to avoid shrubs because they act as ‘ladder fuel’ in case of a fire outbreak. They can easily transform a controllable grass fire to a tree crown which is more difficult to control.

Tame a slope

In the case of a sloping site, it is important to construct concrete or stone retaining walls which acts as a barrier that prevents the either down or uphill spread of the fire. Another important feature of a sturdy stone wall is its capacity to reduce soil erosion. The wall also creates a planting bed for fire-resistant plants.

 

Use of the divide and conquer method

This method involves the use of constructing wide paver pathways dividing your garden. The main reason for using wide pathways is to reduce the chances of fire spreading across the existing landscape. Wide pathways offer better access in times of fire breakouts. Therefore, the paths should be approximately 4 feet wide.

Plant Deciduous Tree

For people who live in areas prone to wild-fires, they should refrain from planting resin-rich conifers and instead plant deciduous trees because they produce minimal deadwood. These trees are also known to produce small leaves that decompose easily.

Citations

https://extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/natres/06303.pdf

https://ucanr.edu/sites/SAFELandscapes/Defensible_space_fire_safe_landscaping_and_fire_hazard_reduction/

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