To create a landscape that will make your home less vulnerable to wildfire, the primary goal is fuel reduction. Think of the area around your home in zones. Zone 1 is closest to the structure, Zone 4 is the farthest away.
Zone 1 This well-irrigated area encircles the structure for at least 30 feet on all sides, providing space for fire suppression equipment in the event of an emergency. Plants should be limited to carefully spaced fire resistant tree and shrub species.
Zone 2 Fire resistant plant materials should be used here. Plants should be low-growing, and the irrigation system should extend into this section.
Zone 3 Place low-growing plants and well spaced trees in this area, remembering to keep the volume of vegetation (fuel) low.
Zone 4 This furthest zone from the structure is a natural area. Thin selectively here and remove highly flammable vegetation.
Also remember to
Carefully space the trees you plant.
Take out the “ladder fuels” – vegetation that serves as a link between grass and tree tops. These fuels can carry fire from vegetation to a structure or from a structure to vegetation.
When maintaining a landscape
Keep trees and shrubs pruned. Prune all trees six to 10 feet from the ground.
Water and maintain your lawn regularly.
Mow dry grass and weeds.
Dispose of cuttings and debris promptly.
Landscape with less-flammable plants: Contact your local state forester, county extension office or landscape specialist for plant information.
Fire Resistant Plants
Most broad leaf deciduous trees
Leaves tend to be supple, moist and easily crushed
Trees tend to be clean, not bushy, and have little dead wood
Shrubs are low growing (<2 feet) with minimal dead material
Tall shrubs are clean, not bushy
Sap is water like and typically does not have a strong odor
Flammable Plants (“Pyrophytes”)
Blade-leaf or needle leaf evergreens
Leaves are typically stiff, leathery, small or fine lacy
Leaves and wood usually contain volatile waxes, fats, terpenes, or oils
Typically aromatic (crushed leaves have strong odors)
Their sap is usually gummy, resinous and has a strong odor
Usually contain plentiful fine, twiggy, dry or dead materials
May have pubescent (hair covered) leaves
May have loose or papery bark
They are cured and dry
Grasses: Any dry grass
Herbs: Any cured herb
Shrub: Any shrub with excessive dead wood. Any over-mature, dying or dead
Trees: Any over-dense forest, stand or urban forest planting when under stress or over-mature.
Water stressed plants that are in poor condition or more flammable
Plants that flame (not smolder) when preheated and ignited with a match