Did you know you can help prevent your home, yard and garden from forest fires? “Firescaping” is a way in which gardeners and landscape designers reduce an area’s vulnerability to wildfire. While nothing is for certain, it never hurts to take precautions if you live in a fire sensitive area. Western wildfires have grown exponentially over the years. In 2015, the National Interagency Fire Center recorded 46,474 fires by early August, burning close to 9 million acres. That same year, on the West Coast of the United States alone, the United States Congress agreed to give $700 million in emergency aid due to wild fires in Washington, Oregon and California. In the city of Canyon Creek, Oregon, over 43 homes were destroyed, leaving the small community forever altered.
It is important for gardeners in fire sensitive areas to be aware of what plants will easily catch flame and which plants will not.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has given us a list of recommended plants to place in your landscape as to best avoid damages caused by wildfire. The list is as follows:
– California Poppies
– Lamb’s Ears
– Creeping Phlox
Beyond growing specific types of plants, you can begin to firescape in a number of different ways. Here’s a list of tips to help gardeners firescape their yards, home and garden:
– By choosing low-growing plants with high moisture content you will make your garden less flammable.
– Ornamental grass and high-resin plants like junipers, conifers or evergreens are highly flammable. Avoid planting these close to your home and instead replace them with one of the plants listed above.
– Growing deciduous trees will help. They are far more fire resistant than their evergreen counterparts as their leaves feature higher moisture content.
– Prune dead limbs from your trees and plants.
– Remove branches hanging over top of your home’s roof.
– Keep flammable outdoor furniture away from trees, plants and shrubs.
– Remove vegetation from around and/or underneath your deck, fence or home.
– Use fire-resistant mulch.
– Keep your grass mowed and remove dead weeds and plants from your lawn.
– Remove dead leaves, branches and pine cones from your yard, roof, gutters and home.
For more information regarding wild fires (their location, impact and damage reports) in the state of Oregon, see the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center and InciWeb. Find the Oregon Department of Fire’s fire summary statistics here.