Don’t get burned: Use fire-resistant gardening and landscaping

Don’t get burned: Use fire-resistant gardening and landscaping

It’s a simple word that evokes danger, fear and panic.

Fire!

And in Florida, California and other states ravaged by wildfire in the past year, it brings up painful memories.

But fire is a natural – and necessary – part of life. The Florida Forest Service regularly conducts prescribed burns in the Everglades to, in essence, fight fire with fire. Burn vegetation in a controlled environment, the thinking goes, so it’s not there when an out-of-control wildfire sweeps through.

There is no such thing as a fire-resistant plant, but fire-resistant landscaping is possible, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. That involves high-moisture plans that grow close to the ground and have a low sap or resin content, and fire-retardant plant species like rockrose, ice plant and aloe.

Avoid plants that drop needles, leaves and other detritus that can dry up, research from CNN and “This Old House” says. Gravel and stone pathways can help fire from spreading.

Basic landscaping maintenance plays a major role in wildfire prevention, according to these tips from the National Fire Protection Association:

  • Remove dead vegetation and other items from under your deck or porch, and within 10 feet of the house.
  • Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating.
  • Don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.

The threat will never truly go away, but proper design can help create sustainable homes and communities built to withstand wildfires.

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