Fire-safe Landscaping Can Save
Your Home: A Factsheet on Rural Fire Safety and Prevention
Wildland fires destroy hundreds
of homes and acres of land every year across the country. Fire-safe landscaping
is an effective tool that creates an area of defensible space between your
home and flammable vegetation that protects against devastating fires.
The Haworth Volunteer Fire
Department and the United States Fire Administration (USFA) encourage you
to keep fire safety at the forefront by learning how to landscape and maintain
your property to minimize possible fire damage and slow fires if they start.
Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility... Fire Stops With
Defensible Space Works
During the 1993 raging Malibu
fires, a number of homes were saved as a result of the owners' careful
pruning and landscaping techniques that protected their homes. In a fire
situation, the dead trees and shrubs surrounding your home act as fuel
for fire. Removing flammable vegetation reduces the threat of fire. Follow
these basic rules to create defensible space that works.
Tips for a Fire-safe Landscape
Remove all dead plants, trees
and shrubs from the site.
Reduce excess leaves, plant
parts and low-hanging branches.
Replace dense flammable plants
with fire-resistant plants.
The choice of plants, spacing
and maintenance are crucial elements in any defensible space landscaping
Choose Fire Resistant Materials
Create a defensible space perimeter
by thinning trees and brush within 30 feet around your home.
Beyond 30 feet, remove dead
wood, debris and low tree branches.
Eliminate small trees and plants
growing under trees. They allow ground fires to jump into tree crowns.
Space trees 30 feet apart and
prune to a height of 8 to 10 feet.
Place shrubs at least 20 feet
from any structures and prune regularly.
Plant the most drought-tolerant
vegetation within three feet of your home and adjacent to structures to
Provide at least a 10 to 15
foot separation between islands of shrubs and plant groups to effectively
break-up continuity of vegetation.
Landscape your property with
fire-resistant plants and vegetation to prevent fire from spreading quickly.
Maintain Your Home and Surrounding
Check your local nursery or
county extension service for advice on fire resistant plants that are suited
for your environment.
Create fire-safe zones with
stone walls, patios, swimming pools, decks and roadways.
Use rock, mulch, flower beds
and gardens as ground cover for bare spaces and as effective firebreaks.
There are no "fire-proof" plants.
Select high moisture plants that grow close to the ground and have a low
sap or resin content.
Choose plant species that resist
ignition such as rockrose, iceplant and aloe.
Fire-resistant shrubs include
hedging roses, bush honeysuckles, currant, cotoneaster, sumac and shrub
Plant hardwood, maple, poplar
and cherry trees that are less flammable than pine, fir and other conifers.
Maintain a well-pruned and
watered landscape to serve as a green belt and protection against fire.
Keep plants green during the
dry season and use supplemental irrigation, if necessary.
Trim grass on a regular basis
up to 100 feet surrounding your home.
Stack firewood at least 30
feet from your home.
Store flammable materials,
liquids and solvents in metal containers outside the home at least 30 feet
away from structures and wooden fences.
No matter where you live,
always install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Test them monthly
and change the batteries at least once a year. Consider installing the
new long-life smoke alarms.