Creating a Firewise Landscape

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It’s that time of year when we all tend to keep an anxious eye on the horizon; looking out for the towering thunderheads that can build up quickly on our hot afternoons.

We live in a fire-prone landscape here in the Rogue Valley, and while we can’t eliminate the risk of a wildfire threatening our homes we CAN do a lot of things that will help keep our homes and communities safe if/when wildfires do strike.

The main concept behind firewise landscaping is creating a defensible space around your home: a buffer between you and the plant fuels (dry grasses, shrubs, overhanging branches, nearby woodlands, etc.) that surround you. A defensible space not only helps protect your home from wildfire, it also gives firefighters a safe place to stage to protect your house if they need to. Within 30’ of your house (or other structures), experts recommend planting only highly fire-resistant plants – low growing, well-spaced, and well-irrigated – and removing all dead grass, leaves, and branches from the area. This website has some excellent detailed recommendations and suggestions for how to create your defensible space.

Here are a few general firewise practices we can all integrate into our landscapes before wildfires occur:
        • Irrigate regularly during the dry season
        • Regularly remove dry/diseased plant material from inside, around and below shrubs/trees/conifers
        • Avoid dense mass plantings
        • Limb up shrubs and trees to reduce ladder fuels
        • Avoid planting any flammable plants within at least 30’ of your home. A list of fire-resistant and flammable plants for the Rogue Valley can be found here on our website.
        • If you live on a hillside, be especially aware of the vegetation downhill from your home. Fires tend to burn uphill – the steeper the hill, the faster a fire will spread.

Several communities in Jackson County have banded together to create Firewise Communities, the county has lots of support materials that can help you get some additional ideas about what you and your neighbors can do to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in your neighborhood. To learn more, visit their website here.