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"Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, waterbugs, tadpoles, frogs & turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, hickory nuts, trees to climb, animals to pet, hayfields, pine cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets – and any child who has been deprived of these
has been deprived of the best part of his education."
-Luther Burbank 1849 - 1926
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Landscape Defensively to Protect Lives, Homes, and Property from Wildfires
As nature-loving people move further into wild country, the very trees and ground cover they love can create a fire hazard in wildfire-prone areas. Southern California is one of the most frequent areas that is fried with wildfire. It is important stewardship to prepare your land and home to survive fires -- and here is a starting point for that planning.
Work closely with your fire department, natural resources department .. and educational groups such as your county or state Cooperative Extention to select fire resistent plants and to landscape wisely. It's a matter of life and death!
- Maintain a defensible space by clearing flammable vegetation and other materials around your house and other structures a minimum of 30 feet and up to 200 feet depending on local topography. Houses surrounded by dense vegetation need clearance of 100 feet while those on slopes and hillsides need clearance of 200 feet.
- Establish and maintain a "greenbelt" of well-watered, low-growing, fire-resistant plants, like lawns and succulent groundcovers, around your home and other structures. Well-watered groundcovers, such as ivy or iceplant, usually will not burn.
- Consider incorporating rock, brick, concrete pathways and patios, and gravel walkways for additional protection. Mulch bare soil in the "greenbelt" with 2-3 inches of fir or redwood bark chips.
- Clear and remove dead and dried plant material and debris, like leaf litter, twigs, tall grass, fallen or dead branches, and thatch build up of groundcovers and succulents to keep the landscape clear of fuel.
- Thin or remove crowded woody plants to create 10-20 feet of space between shrubs and 20-40 feet between trees.
- Prune branches that are near or overhang the roof. Remove lower tree branches to 10-15 feet of the ground and maintain a vegetation-free zone beneath the tree’s drip line.
- Well-watered trees spaced in a staggered manner away from the house can act as a barrier to intercept and prevent wind-driven burning material from reaching the home.
- Many California native plants become highly flammable during drought conditions. If you landscaped with these plants, keep them well spaced to reduce their chances of carrying fire.
- Water-stressed plants burn readily. Water landscape plants adequately. Deep water once a month during late summer and fall, even to drought-tolerant plants, to reduce their potential to burn. Install a sprinkler system to make watering faster, easier, and more effective.
- Select fire-resistant plants. Most conifers and many species of Eucalyptus and Acacia are quite flammable. Species with shedding bark and heavy leaf litter are particularly hazardous. Plants with relatively fire-resistant foliage include deciduous trees and shrubs, plants with large, fleshy leaves, and plants lacking volatile chemicals, oils, waxes, etc.
- Contact your local fire agency for specific rules and regulations and additional information about protecting lives, homes, property, and surrounding environment from wildfire.
For more articles about URBAN NATURE
Urban Agriculture for Outdoor Adventure
Earth's Most Successful Life Form
Kudzu Grows a Foot per Day
Meow How? Should I keep my cat indoors?
Habitat on Your Balcony and Garden Patio
Keeping ants in nature where they belong