It takes a lot more than Smokey the Bear to prevent fires from taking over your yard. If you live in a dry or drought-prone area, then wildfires are a serious concern. Yet, you don't have to sit and wait for the flames to come licking at your door. Instead, you can firescape and put actionable plans into place to block fires from getting anywhere near your favorite place on Earth.
Firescaping is the process of making an environment less likely to catch on fire. Within this process are various initiatives you can undertake to make your property more fire resistant. Firescaping doesn't just apply to your own backyard. It can be implemented across entire cities and landscapes.
Easy Ways to Firescape Your Garden and Yard
Thankfully, there are some actionable things you can do to prevent fires from coming onto your property, and from spreading so quickly. Of course, there's no way we can completely stop any wildfires from happening, but we can put some roadblocks up so that if one comes our way, we're the safest we can be. Just like keeping sandbags on hand in a hurricane-prone region, maintaining some firescaping around your house is a must if you live in a dry, fire-prone area.
Keep Your Yard Maintained and Clear of Debris
If you've ever tried to start a fire, you know that the best kind of fires need kindling. Outside, there's no better kindling than dead leaves, shrubs, and plant/tree debris. One way to keep fires from sparking so close to your home is to constantly keep your yard clean and maintained. Bag up your dead leaves as soon as possible, remove any shrubs or plants, and pick up loose branches that've fallen.
If you've got a big property, then focusing on the area a few feet immediately around your house is a way to manage a massive undertaking. As this should be something you check on weekly, you might want to build it into your everyday routine.
Keep Your Plant Beds Separated
Putting huge plant beds full of trees, flowers, bushes, pine straw, and more is a quick way to have fire spread throughout your yard. If one of those beds catches on fire, it'll be able to pass onto the next bed if they're too close to each other. Increase the space between your beds, and it'll take much stronger winds to pass the fire from one to another.
Vary the Horizontal and Vertical Fire Fuel You Have
Fire fuel is the natural stuff outside that catches fire quickly, like trees and shrubs. Most fires start on the surface level and spread from plant to plant (aka horizontal fuel) and extinguish themselves before they reach the tops of trees (aka vertical fuel). On top of keeping your vegetation spread a part, you can vary the types on your property by including both kinds. Vertical fuel can become really dangerous in a big fire, but it takes more work for the fire to make its way up the tree when it's a small little blaze. So, keep the bottom of your trees pruned well, and there won't be as much for the fires to cling to and spread with.
Don't Let Your Plants/Lawn Get too Dry
Moisture is one of the only fire deterrents, and keeping your plants and yard well-watered will make sure that they have a fighting chance of holding off any flames. Of course, in very dry areas, such as those experiencing drought and with poor water dispersion, this an unrealistic option for some. But if you live in an area that doesn't experience these things, then you should do your best to keep your yard from getting too dry.
Fire-Resistant Plants to Keep in Your Garden
A super interesting approach to firescaping that you might not know about is intentionally planting fire-resistant vegetation in your yard. We know it sounds contradictory to plant more stuff to prevent fires instead of less, but Mother Nature does have some plants that you can take advantage of.
When looking for fire-resistant plants, choose plants that:
- Have high moisture content
- Have fewer branches or leaves
- Grow slowly
- Don't shed a lot of dead material
- Don't have much resin coming off them
Fire-Resistant Vegetation to Plant
Here are some great examples of fire-resistant plants that you can incorporate into your landscaping plans:
- Lemonade berry
- Fortnight lily
- Ice plant
- Bird-foot violet
- Creeping thyme
- Trumpet vine
- Oriental poppy
If trees and shrubs are more your fancy, here are some great fire-resistant options:
- Strawberry bush
Fire-Prone Vegetation to Avoid
Although these plants look pretty, they can be deadly if you live in a fire-prone zone. Avoid putting any of these plants, shrubs, or trees in your yard to minimize fire risks.
Why Is Firescaping Important?
As the world's climate becomes increasingly unstable and prone to extreme weather, widespread fires are becoming more of a concern. Just in 2020, California experienced a series of devastating wildfires that had even celebrities fleeing the state. As with other environmental disasters, there's so much out of your control that when there are things you can do to mitigate damage to your property, you should take the time to put them in place.
Firescaping Is Free Fire Insurance
We can't always control where we live, and sometimes that comes with serious environmental risks. For people in areas prone to wildfires, or for those with anxiety about Mother Nature's growing unpredictability, firescaping is the free fire insurance you need to take. With just a few changes to your landscape, you can give your yard the best chance of beating off wildfires at every turn.