Living in a remote area surrounded by forests may be romantic, but it's a disaster waiting to happen if wildfire strikes. To protect your home, there are certain landscaping features you should consider.
An area of non-flammable materials should be your first zone of defense around your home. From your foundation out to a few yards away should be covered with concrete, flagstone, pavers or gravel, which will stop a grass fire in its tracks. Hardscaping around large trees will keep grass fires from reaching and climbing up into the treetops, where flames can leap onto your roof.
Use Fire-Resistant Plants
While evergreens are beautiful planted as specimen plants in front of your home, the oils, wax and terpines they contain are dangerous in the case of wildfire. Plants such as pines, junipers, eucalyptus and hollies are just fuel for flames. Some fire-resistant foundations plants include hydrangeas, azaleas and sedums. It's wise to keep tall trees as far back from your house as possible to prevent flames from jumping to your roof or burning trees from falling on your house.
Don't Use Bark Mulch
Bark mulch is highly flammable and should especially not be used in foundation beds or to surround trees. Stone, gravel or decorative rock in place of bark can save your house from destruction.
Make a Fire Break
If you have a large property, you should have at least two firebreaks that surround the house; one at the edge of your property and one in the middle of your property. These can be wide paved, stone or gravel pathways, or simply a wide swath of land where all vegetation has been removed and weeds are kept in check. The size of your firebreak depends on your area and terrain, and your landscape designer will work with the fire department to determine their design.
Install a Sprinkler System with Heat Sensors
Moisture is fire's worst enemy, so you want to have some way to stop or at least slow it down it before it reaches your home. Install heat sensors around the perimeter of your property that automatically engage your sprinkler system if you are not at home when wildfire strikes. You may also want to install sprinklers on the roof to keep it wet and protect it from fire that blows in or jumps from trees.
Living in the wilderness in wildfire-prone areas requires careful and thoughtful landscape design. To protect your home and property, you should work with a landscape service like Master Landscape that is familiar with techniques and plantings that are right for your property.