Many of our customers live in back country areas with natural brush in the vicinity or in urban areas where houses are next to canyons. In their natural cycle, most native plants depend on fire to regenerate and/or restore nutrients to the soil. Because of this, people living in these areas must take into consideration the potential hazard of fire to their homes, particularly during the late summer and fall months when brush is high enough and dry enough to present a potential threat. It is during the autumn months that scorching Santa Ana winds take their toll on summer dried brush to create major risks to home and property.
No amount of care can completely eliminate the threat of fire, but there are steps to take which decrease the potential fire hazards. Everyone knows to clear dry brush from around buildings, however consider that if the ground is left bare the following rainy season will cause erosion problems. Some of the primary plant materials used for fire retardation and soil erosion prevention are hardy ground covers, especially the various ice plants. Perennial succulents, ice plants come in many attractive varieties and colors including Rosea Ice Plant, Purple Productus, Red Apple, Disneyland, and several trailing and creeping ice plants. Other good ground covers include Coprosma kirkii, Gazania, Lantana, Santolina and Verbena.
For the defensible space around your home, select trees and shrubs suggested by Cal Fire which include Agave, Distictus, Baccharis, Rockrose, King Palm, Yucca or California Laurel. See a list of suggested plants here that are available at Evergreen Nursery.
Remember to water and fertilize regularly so plants maintain their health and vigor. Properly maintaining your irrigation system is one way to ensure plant material around the perimeter of the property has a high enough moisture level to keep it from burning.
Once landscaping is established, avoid letting shrubs and trees become overgrown, particularly with excessive dead foliage. Trim and prune regularly to keep plants contained and in a desired shape and density.
Brush fires don’t happen every day, but when they do they are destructive and potentially deadly. One can’t landscape to eliminate every fire hazard, but taking a few basic precautions may protect you from major damage or may slow the burn rate. With the variety of plant material available today, landscapers and homeowners need not sacrifice an attractive garden for a safe one.