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Fire-Resistant Landscaping

 

The careful selection of plants and landscaping materials can aid in fire resistance around the home

Whether you live in a wildfire prone area, are experiencing a drought in the region, or simply want to reduce the risk of fire, there are options for landscape planning that will help. Some plant species actually are resistant to fire, although none are actually fire proof. Other important things to keep in mind involve placement, choice of mulching and groundcover, and strategic use of non-living materials.

For an existing landscape and a limited budget, the first order of business is to clean up. Get rid of all deadwood, leaves, and other yard debris. Trim out all dead spots in bushes and trees. Make regular use of a weedeater. Keep the yard clear of extra vehicles and collected "junk." In the event of a fire, these are all dangerous obstacles for firefighters and equipment.

In areas closest to the home, keep plants to a minimum and give them space. You can still create "islands" of blooms and bushes, but keep them low-growing. Choose plants that are fully bushed as well - this means avoiding plants that leaf on the outer edges, but are a nest of branches within. This system is also recommended for burglar-proofing.

Avoid mulching with bark close to the home. Instead, use non-flammable materials such as decorative rock. Add boulders and interesting rocks in between clusters of sparse vegetation. Always keep these plants (and the foundation) supplied with water. Use irrigation from the house to outer perimeters if possible.

Fire-resistant plants, regardless of region, will have a low-resin content. Select cool-season grasses if the location is appropriate - they are better suited to retarding fire.

Ground cover is a fire-resistant alternative to grass. These plants are succulent by nature.

Decorative grasses are potential fireballs regardless of the season. Avoid planting these near the perimeter of a home.

Do not use pine needles or leaf mulch near the home. The former will flame and the latter will smolder. Instead, consider inorganics. If you do select a bark mulch, do not add it in thick layers.

Do not use shrubs to surround and camouflage propane tanks or near wood decks. They're attractive, but also an invitation for spreading flames.

When planning for your particular area, it is always important to consult gardening experts, either at nurseries or home improvement centers. In additional, you'll find plenty of information on-line that is region-specific.

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