How You Can Reduce Your Risk
It’s fire season: that time of year when it’s critical that we take all precautionary steps to keep our homes and communities safe. Fire-wise landscaping can be both beautiful and reduce the potential for wildfires. The Flagstaff Fire Department has additional resources for information but here is a brief synopsis of their recommendations.
Defensible Space: Ember exposure is the root cause of over half of all structure loss. Create and maintain 30 feet of “clean and green” space around your home using the following suggestions.
- Use ignition resistant construction materials like cement, stone, stucco and plaster
- Surround your home with non-flammable barriers like cinder walls, paved walkways and gravel
Planting Guidelines –
There are no “fire proof plants” – however, spacing, plant choice, and maintenance are critical.
- Plants nearest your home should be widely spaced and smaller than those farther away
- Plant in small irregular clusters
- Breakup the vegetation with decorative rock, gravel or stone pathways
- Remove and avoid plants with high resin content
- Conifers (pines, firs, spruces, junipers and Arizona Cypress) are more flammable due to their oil and pitch content – even when they are kept watered
- Use a variety of plants to support a mixed and healthy landscape – fewer insects/diseases
Plant Choice –
Choose plants with these characteristics:
- Does not accumulate large amounts of combustible dead branches, needles, or leaves
- Open, loose branches with a low volume of total vegetation
- Low resin content (many deciduous species)
- High-moisture content (succulents and some herbaceous plants)
- Grows slowly and does not need frequent pruning
- Short and grows close to the ground
- Can re-establish following a fire, reducing the costs of planting new trees
Be exceptionally diligent during fire season
- Remove all pine needles from the roof, gutters, and the perimeter of your home
- Remove annual plants after they have gone to seed, or when the stem dries out
- Remove any damaged plants parts and keep plants pruned
- Provide supplemental water to those nearest your home
- In the event of drought and water rationing, prioritize the plants you wish to save
- Keep grass shortest within your defensible space – no more than 6 inches high in the outer portions.
- Use mulch to conserve moisture and reduce weed growth
- Mulch can be organic (wood chips or small bark pieces) or inorganic (gravel or rock)
- Water trees and other plants during the winter dry periods, before water rationing becomes necessary in the summer