Landscaping to prepare for wildfire

We live in a wildfire-prone area, and this impacts our garden and landscape. We need defensible space extending at least 30 feet around our homes. In this area, plants should be spaced out horizontally and vertically. They should also be carefully selected and maintained.

Close to home, plantings should be short and herbaceous or succulent, mulched with river rock, gravel or decomposed granite. A rock garden with lavenderleaf sundrops, pineleaf penstemon, mountain beebalm and longleaf flox is perfect here.

From 5 to 30 feet away from the house, use herbaceous or short woody deciduous plants. Lawn works, but if you do not often use it, you could swap turfgrass for conservation or pasture grasses.

Here, an island of blanketflower, white-tufted evening-primrose and blue flax would give visual interest from summer through fall. Shrubs for this area may include squawbrush, Lewis mockorange or fernbrush.

Mulch plantings here with rock, gravel, decomposed granite or composted woodchips.

From 30 feet away, riskier plants can be used, including mountain mahogany, Apache plume and cliffrose. Coniferous trees and shrubs can also be planted here, if properly maintained.


When defending a home from fire, landscape maintenance matters. Prune and remove dead branches and plant debris frequently. Deadhead perennials, cut back dried ornamental grasses and control weeds.

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