Wildfires: Landscaping - Fire Wise Design

Home >> Perils >> Wildfires >> Landscaping - Fire Wise Design


With firewise landscaping you can create a defensible space around your home that reduces your wildfire threat. Before you begin designing your landscaping consider the following: Local area fire history, site location and overall terrain, prevailing winds and seasonal weather, property contours and boundaries, native vegetation, plant characteristics and placement and irrigation requirements. 

To help create a firewise landscape, remember that the primary goal is fuel reduction. To this end, initiate the zone concept. Zone 1 is closest to the structure; Zones 2-4 move progressively further away. 

Zone 1

This well-irrigated area encircles the structure for at least 30 feet on all sides, providing space for fire suppression equipment in the event of an emergency. Plantings should be limited to carefully spaced low flammability species including fire-resistant tree and shrub species. 

Zone 2

Low flammability plant materials should be used here. Plants should be low-growing and the irrigation system should extend into this section.

Zone 3

Place low-growing plants and well-spaced trees in this area, remembering to keep the volume of vegetation (fuel) low. 

Zone 4

This zone, farthest from the structure, is a natural area. Selectively prune and thin all plants and remove highly flammable vegetation. 

Choose Firewise Plants 

Protect your home by planting native, fire-resistant vegetation. Less flammable plants include: dogwood, viburnum, redbud, sycamore, magnolia, beautyberry, oak, red maple, wild azalea, sweetgum, coontie, winged elm, black cherry, persimmon, wild plum, sugarberry, Florida soapberry, fringe tree, ferns, wild olive, blue beech, hophornbeam and sparkleberry. 

Landscaping Maintenance

When maintaining a fire-resistant landscape remember the following:

  • Remove leaf clutter and dead and overhanging branches. Mow the lawn regularly.

  • Dispose of cuttings and debris promptly according to local regulations.

  • Store firewood away from the house.

  • Be sure the irrigation system is well maintained.

  • Use care when refueling garden equipment and maintain it regularly.

  • Store and use flammable liquids properly.

  • Dispose of smoking materials carefully.

  • Become familiar with local regulations regarding vegetation clearances, disposal of debris, and fire safety requirements for equipment.