Create a fire-smart landscape with proper design, regular maintenance and careful plant selection

There is no these detail as a “fire-proof” plant all plants can melt away, especially when they are useless, badly preserved or drought stressed. To generate a fire-intelligent landscape, appropriate style and normal maintenance are crucial. Diligently choosing crops with sure attributes, and preventing other people, also issues.

In accordance to Steven Swain, UC Cooperative Extension environmental horticulture advisor for Marin and Sonoma counties, “Design and servicing are much more vital than plant range.”


When planning your yard, determine the ideal area for your vegetation next the a few defensible place zones:

• Zone : to 5 feet from your household and the most significant. Eradicate all combustible elements, which includes in-ground vegetation and natural and organic mulch. Use only non-combustible supplies (concrete, brick, rocks, decomposed granite and gravel).

• Zone 1: 5 to 30 toes from your house. Make plant islands by separating backyard beds with hardscape offer enough plant spacing to slow the distribute of flames and make servicing much easier.

• Zone 2: 30 to 100 ft from your home. Use more substantial shrubs planted in widely spaced teams or islands.

Avoid Italian cypress, called "Roman candles

Room trees aside, so that at maturity their canopies are divided by 10 to 15 toes. Contemplate how big vegetation will be at maturity to preserve enough spaces, with much more room involving plants on slopes.

Stick to these four techniques to make sure you are properly sustaining your garden:

Clear up. Consistently take away lifeless or dry plants, grass, weeds, trees and branches. Take away lifeless or dry leaves and needles from your garden, roof and gutters. Take out and swap having difficulties crops.

Drinking water. Keep your plants effectively hydrated check out your irrigation process on a regular basis.

Use ideal mulch. In Zone , use only inorganic mulch (rocks, decomposed granite, gravel). In the other zones, composted wood chips are finest keep away from hugely flammable mulches (these as shredded western crimson cedar, or “gorilla hair,” shredded rubber and pine needles).

Prune. Slice back again woody, twiggy or overgrown shrubs, slim and minimize tree canopies and limb up trees 6 to 10 ft from the floor or up to a person-3rd their top.

Don't plant in Zone 0, 5 feet or closer to your home, and avoid juniper and other plants that contain resin, volatile oils or nonwatery sap that release more energy when they burn. (Courtesy of Fire Safe Marin)

Courtesy of Hearth Safe Marin

Do not plant in Zone , 5 ft or closer to your house, and steer clear of juniper and other crops that comprise resin, unstable oils or nonwatery sap that release extra electrical power when they melt away.

While not as critical as design and style and servicing, plant collection is also essential. Swain endorses California native or other pollinator-helpful vegetation that call for little drinking water and are easy to keep. Succulents are also fantastic alternatives.

Pick out plants and trees that meet up with your garden’s cultural conditions. Think about the amount of sun in your backyard garden style of soil microclimate and location, which includes slope. Include things like vegetation with the subsequent characteristics:

• Minor seasonal accumulation of dead vegetation to make servicing a lot easier

• Trees that get rid of their leaves in the drop (deciduous) since they have better humidity content when in leaf

• Open branching to cut down the likelihood of catching embers

• Sluggish developing to have to have significantly less pruning

• Non-resinous product (stems, leaves or needles that are not resinous, oily or waxy)

• Superior moisture articles in their leaves (these types of as succulents or veggies)

Stay clear of crops with these attributes:

• Tricky to maintain thanks to accumulation of dead woody substance, lifeless leaves or other harmful lifeless progress (eucalyptus, palms, bamboo and some manzanitas that get rid of dry bark)

• A physical composition building regimen upkeep extra tough because of accumulation of lifeless product (juniper, Italian cypress, feather, fountain and pampas grasses)

• A high floor region to volume ratio, that contains wonderful needles or lacy leaves (Monterey pines)
containing resin, risky oils or sap with a powerful odor that release extra vitality when they burn up (lavender, rosemary, juniper, acacia, pine, spruces and firs)

Quite a few Marin jurisdictions prohibit specific plants. The Metropolis of San Rafael necessitates the elimination of juniper, bamboo, black acacia and Italian cypress. Whilst it acknowledges that no plant is fireproof, the metropolis also acknowledges that eliminating some of the most pervasive and hearth-vulnerable vegetation cuts down wildfire risk and its unfold.

Suitable structure, standard maintenance and careful plant alternatives will enable you develop a hearth-smart landscape.

Much more facts about how to select vegetation can be observed on the UC Marin Learn Gardeners’ internet site at for. And for normal fireplace-sensible landscaping facts, go to

Sponsored by UC Cooperative Extension, the University of California Marin Master Gardeners supplies science- and study-based details for Marin residence gardeners.  E-mail questions to [email protected]. Connect photographs for inquiries about plant pests or diseases. Be sure to call 415-473-4910 to see when a master gardener will be at the business office or fall off samples 24/7 in the sample box outside the place of work. To show up at a gardening workshop or subscribe to Leaflet, a free quarterly e-e-newsletter, go to