Landscaping for Fire Resistance

Defensible space is a set of environmental design principles that increases the likelihood of a fire passing by a house.

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Lately, it seems like every year is a bad year for wildfires. If you live in an area prone to wildfires—most of the American West—you naturally want to minimize that risk. And there are natural ways to do so.

A wildfire-resistant landscape doesn’t necessarily protect homes from the flames, but it improves the odds of a home’s survival compared to a traditional garden. While it is possible to design a fire-resistant landscape to fit almost any aesthetic, fire-resistant landscaping guidelines usually result in a natural landscape that blends in with the surrounding environment.

Defensible Space

Defensible space is the central concept behind wildfire-resistant landscaping. For most homeowners, defensible space refers to two zones surrounding the house. Yet, the term is often misunderstood as a 100-foot vegetation-free area around the house.

But keeping all vegetation 100 feet away from built structures is not only ugly, but it also increases other environmental problems like flooding and erosion. Defensible space is actually a set of environmental design principles that slightly increases the likelihood of a fire passing by a house and it greatly increases firefighters’ ability to defend the building. And if you live in California, it’s required by law.

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