Firewise Garden


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Firewise presentation by Judith Leraas Cook in May 2007 to International Master Gardeners Conference. How to plan, design and maintain home landscaping that is beautiful and safer from wildfire.

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Firewise Garden

  1. 1. Creating the Firewise Garden Takes Planning, Planting and Maintenance Presented by Judith Leraas Cook Project Manager Firewise Communities/USA International Master Gardeners Association Conference, May 2007 Little Rock, Arkansas
  2. 2. What Is Firewise? <ul><li>Firewise Communities Program </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sponsored by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Liaisons in 44 states and two BIA regions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>222 Firewise Communities/USA sites nationwide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>$14,182,894 invested since 2003 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Almost 300,000 homeowners </li></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. What Makes a Garden Firewise? <ul><li>The Firewise Communities Vision - With adequate planning and cooperation among varying interests, wildfires can occur without disastrous loss of life, property and resources </li></ul>
  4. 4. A Firewise Garden <ul><li>Generally lies within 100-200 feet of the home </li></ul><ul><li>The best way to protect a home from destruction during an extreme wildfire is to take actions within that space---the home ignition zone </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Home Ignition Zone
  6. 6. A Firewise Garden <ul><li>A garden can ensure that no high-intensity flames can occur within 100’ of a home </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If steep slopes lie below a structure, this area may extend to 150-200’ </li></ul></ul>City of Beverly Hills, CA Firewise Garden
  7. 7. Planning the Firewise Garden <ul><li>Site characteristics give clues to potential wildfire behavior </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is it flat? On a slope? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does it include a water feature or a stream? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is it subject to prevailing winds? </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Planning the Firewise Garden <ul><li>The design should accommodate nearby structures </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Minimize the volume of vegetation as you go nearer to homes or outbuildings </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Planning the Firewise Garden <ul><ul><li>Create a fire-free area that extends five feet out from the home and its attached decks, fences, etc. Can include… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mowed, irrigated grass </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Flower beds of high-moisture-content perennials </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Planning the Firewise Garden <ul><li>Fire-free area can also include… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Nonflammable landscaping materials like rocks and pavers </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Planning the Firewise Garden <ul><li>Create fuel breaks with gravel walkways, paths and small lawns, if appropriate </li></ul><ul><li>Water features add to a garden’s ambience </li></ul>
  12. 12. Planning the Firewise Garden <ul><li>Wood fences and mulch should not touch structures </li></ul>
  13. 13. Planning the Firewise Garden <ul><li>About trees - </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Within 30’ of a home, leave 20-30’ of space between the canopies or between small clusters of two to three trees </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beyond 30’ from a home, leave 10-20 feet of space between canopies </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Planning the Firewise Garden <ul><li>Well-placed deciduous trees can act as a shield during a wildfire, blocking its intense heat </li></ul>
  15. 15. Planning the Firewise Garden <ul><li>Careful selection of fire-resistant plants can slow the spread of a wildfire and reduce its intensity </li></ul>
  16. 16. Planting the Firewise Garden <ul><li>Most deciduous trees and shrubs are fire-resistant </li></ul><ul><li>Native vegetation is often fire-adapted </li></ul><ul><li>Fire-resistant plants can be damaged or killed during a wildfire, but do not contribute measurably to its intensity </li></ul>
  17. 17. Planting the Firewise Garden <ul><li>Fire-resistant plant characteristics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Leaves are moist and supple </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sap is water-like and does not have a strong odor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have little dead wood and tend not to accumulate dry material </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Firewise Plants
  19. 19. Planting the Firewise Garden <ul><li>Highly flammable plant characteristics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Contain fine, dry or dead material like twigs, needles and leaves </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leaves, twigs and stems contain volatile waxes, terpenes or oils </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leaves are aromatic </li></ul></ul>
  20. 21. Planting the Firewise Garden <ul><li>Highly flammable plant characteristics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sap is gummy, resinous and has strong odor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>May have loose or papery bark </li></ul></ul>
  21. 22. Planting the Firewise Garden <ul><li>Flammable trees and shrubs are typically conifer and non-deciduous broadleaf species </li></ul><ul><li>Both ornamental and native plants can be highly flammable </li></ul>
  22. 23. Maintenance is Important <ul><li>During a wildfire, the potential exists for a blizzard of firebrands (embers) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Firebrands collect similarly to falling leaves </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Flammable items can ignite, starting small fires </li></ul></ul>
  23. 24. Maintenance is Important <ul><li>A clean, healthy garden is not a receptive surface for firebrands (embers) </li></ul>
  24. 25. Maintaining the Firewise Garden <ul><li>Avoid developing ‘ladder fuel’ conditions </li></ul>
  25. 26. Maintaining the Firewise Garden <ul><li>Proper, regular pruning reaps fire-preparedness dividends </li></ul>
  26. 27. Maintaining the Firewise Garden <ul><li>Keep plant debris to a minimum… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Remove dead leaves and stems </li></ul></ul>
  27. 28. Maintaining the Firewise Garden <ul><li>Keep plant debris to a minimum… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rake </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mow </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dispose of debris promptly </li></ul></ul>
  28. 29. Maintaining the Firewise Garden <ul><li>About trees - </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Within 30 feet of a home, limb trees up eight feet above the ground </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Remove accumulations of dead branch and stem wood under and between trees </li></ul></ul>
  29. 30. Maintaining the Firewise Garden <ul><li>About trees - </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Beyond 30 feet, prune lower branches up six to eight feet from the ground </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Remove accumulations of dead branch and stem wood under and between trees </li></ul></ul>
  30. 31. Maintaining the Firewise Garden <ul><li>About plants - </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Should be carefully spaced and low-growing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensure they stay healthy and green </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If mulch is used, keep it moist as it can become flammable when dry </li></ul></ul>
  31. 32. In Conclusion, A Firewise Garden Is…. <ul><li>Well-planned, with proper plant spacing and the adjacent structures in mind </li></ul><ul><li>Planted with fire-resistant species </li></ul><ul><li>Well-maintained, pruned and trimmed </li></ul>
  32. 33. Questions? <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> , (Practical Firewise Information contains fire-resistant plant lists) </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>Grand Haven, Michigan Firewise Garden Master Gardener Project