Communities from California to Florida are experiencing increasing amounts of wildfires, and homeowners are recognizing the heightened need for a safer way to design, plant, and maintain a landscape that aids in the protection of their homes.
Like addressing drought and water conservation needs with waterwise and drought-tolerant plants, we can also confront fire risk with smart plant choices and landscape design.
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The most important aspects of a firewise landscape are creating a defensible space with a thoughtful landscape design, and then routinely maintaining the space to avoid any build-up of unnecessary vegetation. Take a look at our resources list at the bottom of the page for more information about creating a firewise landscape. Once you have a firewise landscape design and maintenance plan, it's equally important to choose the right plants for your firewise landscape.
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Determining which plants to use can be a big challenge because many homeowners aren't sure what makes a plant firewise, or safe to plant in their firewise landscape. So, let's clear this up a bit before we dive into some recommendations.
What makes a plant firewise?
Firewise plants tend to have one or more of the following aspects:
- Low-maintenance, with little need for pruning
- Slow to moderate growth
- Do not accumulate large amounts of dead branches, needles, or leaves.
- Low resin or sap content (e.g., deciduous trees)
- High moisture content in leaves (e.g., succulents)
- Low-growing or short habit
- Open, loose branching with a low amount of vegetation
No plant is fireproof, but there are a variety of beautiful plants that look great and perform well in firewise gardens. Below are some of our favorites, chosen for their beauty, performance, and firewise characteristics.
Most of our favorite firewise plant choices are also drought-tolerant and waterwise once established. The majority of gardens that are susceptible to fire are in arid regions or will experience occasional drought, so consider choosing plants that can withstand dry conditions in your firewise landscape. Plants that require more irrigation have a note in their description.
Article courtesy of Monrovia.