Preparing Your Landscape for Fire Season
Across the West, fire season is beginning earlier and ending later; and as we progress through difficult economic times, property owners and managers might be tempted to reduce certain landscaping services to save on expenses. But some routine maintenance operations might be protecting your property against fire hazards, and eliminating or reducing these services could put your property at risk as we experience heat waves in California and other western states.
When assessing cost-saving solutions for your landscape, consider keeping these items on the punch list to protect your property and your guests against fires:
Trees and shrubs should be kept away from buildings. Overgrown branches and leaves that brush up against your property pose a serious risk, especially to older structures that may have been built with flammable materials. Plants should be trimmed at least five feet away from the façade.
Consider adding fire-resistant plants to your landscape. Succulents and certain types of shrubs store water and sap in their leaves, causing them to burn slowly. While no plant is completely fireproof, these varieties can act as a firebreak and will slow the spread. Additionally, these plants typically require little to no maintenance, meaning future savings on services. For unique varieties of fire-resistant plants, check out these western natives.
Have your irrigation system checked to ensure it’s functioning properly. Nothing can accelerate a fire quite like a brown lawn. Your landscape should be healthy and well-irrigated, especially through hot months.
Replace old bark with inorganic mulch. Pine needles and other types of arbor mulch are flammable. Consider switching to stone, like river rocks or decomposed granite, to accent your landscape. Be sure to consult your landscape provider before making the change.
Check your local fire department website for additional guidance. Your local fire department is the best resource for prevention tips, local fire laws, and inspection scheduling.
Over the coming weeks, ask your landscape provider to conduct a quality audit highlighting any fire risks in your landscape. Taking these preventive measures early on can give you peace-of-mind through the most dangerous months.