Fire Safe Landscaping Ideas

Fire Safe Landscaping Ideas
Choosing to live among the beautiful forests of Lake Tahoe requires an awareness of potential fire danger. Additionally, irrigating expansive and grassy lawns can lead to water runoff that can reduce the clarity of the lake.
By incorporating boulders and rock mulches into your garden, you can incorporate the beauty of the surrounding mountains, while reducing fire risk.
Below are landscaping ideas and best practices:

Defensible Space

It is important to create and maintain a defensible space of at least 100 feet or greater from each building or structure. Keep plants low, and make sure to provide regular irrigation. Check with your local fire department about the exact distances required in your area.
Visually invite and guide guests to your front entrance, using permeable pavers for driveway and walkways. Install Best Management Practices (BMPs) such as rain gardens to intercept driveway runoff before it leaves your property.
Use boulders, rock mulches and decomposed granite to increase defensible space between plants. Incorporate native and ornamental grasses at lawn edges as an attractive buffer and to filter runoff.
When planting, create horizontal and vertical separation between plants and shrubs. If a fire occurs, this will minimize the spread of fire between plants and your home.
There are a large variety of gravel and rock mulches that you can use to create this separation. You can use river rock for drainage and to mimic the landscapes of the surrounding hillsides.

Fire Resistant Plants

Choose fire-resistant plants that will not readily ignite from a flame. These plants can be damaged or even killed by fire; however, their foliage and stems do not significantly contribute to the fuel and, therefore, the fire’s intensity.
Remove dead leaves, branches and other flammable debris regularly. Fire-safe landscapes should also include hardscape materials, like granite paths or stone walls. These can act as a fuel break and help to slow down or change the path of an approaching fire.
When done correctly, a fire-proof landscape should still include enough well-spaced and judiciously pruned plants to protect against excessive erosion and to provide wildlife habitat.

Fire Resistant Building Materials

The house itself can be made more fire resistant. Metal roofs and fire resistant decking and framing can be used to keep fire from gaining a foothold near your home.
Make sure to keep flammable things like firewood and propane tanks away from your home.
Finally, in all cases, maintain your plants and property throughout the year to reduce the amount of fuel near your home.
For other landscaping ideas, TRPA’s summer issue of Tahoe in Depth offers many great ideas for best environmental practices when landscaping.
Contact me today for more information about the local ordinances that protect the beauty and clarity of the Lake Tahoe basin.

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