Wildfires pose a threat to homes in wooded areas. It takes only a few days of summer heat for forests to dry out enough to catch fire. But in dry, windy weather fires can easily get out of control. Before wildfire strikes, homeowners can help protect lives and property by using techniques for home siting, construction and landscaping that create a defensible space around structures.
Zone 1 (All Hazard Areas) This well-irrigated area encircles the structure and all its attachments (wooden decks, fences, and boardwalks) for at least 30 feet on all sides.
- Plants should be carefully spaced, low-growing and free of resins, oils and waxes that burn easily.
- Mow the lawn regularly. Prune trees up six to ten feet from the ground.
- Space conifer trees 30 feet between crowns. Trim back trees that overhang the house.
- Create a ‘fire-free’ area within five feet of the home, using non-flammable landscaping materials and/or high-moisture-content annuals and perennials.
- Remove dead vegetation from under deck and within 10 feet of house.
- Consider fire-resistant material for patio furniture, swing sets, etc.
- Firewood stacks and propane tanks should not be located in this zone.
- Water plants, trees and mulch regularly
Zone 2 (Moderate and High Hazard Areas) Plants in this zone should be low-growing, well irrigated, and less flammable.
- Leave 30 feet between clusters of two to three trees, or 20 feet between individual trees.
- Encourage a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees.
- Create ‘fuel breaks’, like driveways, gravel walkways and lawns.
- Prune trees up six to ten feet from the ground.
Zone 3 (High Hazard Areas) Thin this area, although less space is required than in Zone 2. Remove smaller conifers that are growing between taller trees. Remove heavy accumulation of woody debris. Reduce the density of tall trees so canopies are not touching.
Maintaining the fire wise landscape
- Keep trees and shrubs pruned six to ten feet from the ground.
- Remove leaf clutter and dead and overhanging branches.
- Mow the lawn regularly and dispose of cutting and debris promptly.
- Store firewood away from the house.
- Maintain the irrigation system regularly.
- Familiarize yourself with local regulations regarding vegetative clearance, debris disposal, and fire safety requirements for equipment.