Wildfires have been among the main news stories within the past few years, particularly in California and Australia. While many are used to the idea of fires starting within houses, either due to carelessness or poor electrical wiring, the idea of fires starting seemingly randomly within the wild is particularly frightening. Wildfires are somewhat common within these dryer regions and can get out of control rather quickly. All it takes is for a small fire to spark; as it grows, it will consume all dry grass and vegetation nearby, causing mass destruction and even death.
Due in part to climate change, the risks for massive wildfires are only growing. In 2019 alone, the need for disaster recovery services grew by 23%. This is indicative of the long-term effects of natural disasters like wildfires. While it’s possible for a landscape to recover from a fire, this takes some time. Furthermore, it can be extremely difficult for forests that have taken decades or even centuries to grow in abundance to recover from this kind of extreme damage.
People need to take the steps they can to protect themselves against wildfires. This can be done not only on a large scale, on the level of a city, but a smaller scale as well. Even as homeowners are plotting out their landscapes, they can take steps to fire-proof their gardens or yards. Fire-resistant landscaping may at first seem intimidating, but is much more accessible than many might realize.
1. Keep Fire Retardants Close By
While there are steps that can be taken to create a landscape that is truly as resistant as possible to wildfires, it’s also important to keep fire retardants nearby. This would both include fire extinguishers, which are based on chemicals that may not be safe for the environment but are helpful, as well as full force water hoses. Ideally, a hose would be structured to both gently water the lawn or garden, and forcefully suppress a fire. Of course, it’s important to note that these types of measures should only be used if a fire is relatively small. If it has grown out of control, than those on the property should not risk their safety to suppress the fire.
One issue that certain dry areas like California deal with is that of firefighters becoming overwhelmed, and therefore less able to deal with such problems. Therefore, it’s good for homeowners to have some kind of fire suppressant on hand. These same homeowners may benefit from having surveillance equipment on hand. Not only will this allow them to be safer in general (up to 80% more aware of any risk of theft or losses) but they would also be able to see where fires start and also may be more aware of fires as soon as they begin.
2. Choose Fire-Resistant Plants
Homeowners’ chief concern is creating a fire-resistant landscape, this can inform the landscaping choices that they make down to the plants that they choose. There are certain plants that homeowners can choose that are more resistant to fires than others. Some fire-resistant plants include lavender, which not only grows in dryer conditions, but also is less likely to be easily set aflame. California Fuschia is also an option for those who want an addition to their landscape that is both resistant to fires, and resistant to animals. This particularly plants wards off deer, which can be a menace to landscapes in certain areas.
Sage is another plant that is both resistant to fires, and resistant to drought; this is particularly beneficial in those dry areas in which wildfires are most likely to start, and plants difficult to grow in general. For those seeking to add some fire-resistant color to their gardens, other options would include the California Lilac, as well as the bright Yellow Ice Plant, the Coreopsis plant, and the California Redbud. It may come as no surprise to those that live in California that many of the most naturally fire-resistant plants are native to the state. While non-fire resistant plants can still be in a fire-resistant landscape, they are best boosted by fire-resistant plants.
3. Create a Defensible Space
Defensible spaces are vital to the creation of a fire-resistant landscape. Essentially, this means creating a fire-resistant barrier around a landscape, which will keep a wildfire from being fueled by the plants surrounding your home. This requires, unfortunately, a good deal of upkeep. One surprisingly combustible place is the gutter. Gutters often fill up with combustible vegetation, and they must be cleared regularly. For that matter, if similar vegetation falls from the roof, as well as twigs, it must be cleared up. This type of material can easily be consumed by a fire, and as soon as it’s cleared the landscape will be much safer.
Often, homeowners keep easily combustible materials around their homes without even realizing it. This includes piles of firewood, or simply wood that they have cleared as trees are cut down. As long as this wood is disposed of as quickly as possible, there is not much to be concerned about. Patio furniture should also be stored when not in use, unless it is made of non-combustible materials. Ideally, this should figure into homeowners’ minds as they buy patio furniture in the first place. A landscape should be planned with combustibility in mind.
4. Pay Attention To Reports
When plotting out a landscape, homeowners may want to make changes following weather reports, as well as security reports. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, otherwise known as NATO, gives a report projecting the future security environment every two years. This type of report, which can project the risk of wildfires, as well as weather reports, can change the plans homeowners might have regarding the fire resistance of their landscapes. Alterations can even be made after a landscape is finished.
While some might be intimidated by the idea of creating a fire-resistant landscape, it’s much simpler than many might realize. If homeowners approach it step by step, they will have landscapes that are both safe and fire-resistant.