Q. What can I do in my landscape to make my home less vulnerable to wildfires? — John B., Paso Robles
A. That’s a timely question. Wildfires can be threatening, but with proper planning you can have a beautiful landscape and create a Fire Safe Zone around your home.
Begin by creating and maintaining a defensible space of 100 feet around your home that includes a lean, clean and green zone of 30 feet, plus a reduced fuel zone of 70 feet. Greater defensive zones are necessary if your home is on a steep slope or in a windswept area. Here’s a closer look:
Green zone: Remove flammable vegetation and combustible materials within 30 feet immediately surrounding your home. This includes keeping trees trimmed, removing needles and leaves from roof and gutters, and removing dead or dying plants, leaves and debris. Increase spacing between plants, and use fire resistant plants. Regular maintenance such as pruning, weed control and adequate irrigation is necessary to maintain the fire resistance of your landscape.
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Reduced fuel zone: Create this next to the green zone, your home defense zone, extending out an additional 70 feet, or to your property line. Open space between plants improves chances of stopping a wildfire. Either create greater horizontal and vertical spacing between plants, or if you have trees, remove plants growing beneath the trees that are greater than 4 inches in height. Remove lower limbs of trees to at least 6 feet, and remove one-third of branches on any smaller trees.
The Master Gardeners, with assistance from the Fire Safe Council, San Luis Obispo County, installed a new Fire Safe Landscape display in our demonstration garden. Our free July workshop will focus on Fire Safe Landscaping this Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon in the Garden of the Seven Sisters, 2156 Sierra Way in San Luis Obispo. Parking is free in the adjacent parking lot.
Additional information on Fire Safe Landscaping is available from the Fire Safe Council: www.fscslo.org/Solutions.html and from University of California publications: firecenter.berke ley.edu/docs/CeMasterGardener8322.pdf