5 great firefighting plants

Creating the fire-safe landscape: what to plant and where to plant it

Your Yard's Fire Zones

Create a fire-smart landscape by playing a zone defense

  • Zone 1: For maximum safety, plant sparingly within 3 to 5 feet of your house.
  • Zone 2: Trim tree branches at least 10 feet from the chimney; cut back any trees overhanging the roof.
  • Zone 3: In the Garden Zone, keep grass watered and mown to, at most, 4 inches.
  • Zone 4: In the Greenbelt Zone, don’t let perennials and shrubs grow taller than 18 inches.
  • Zone 5: Thin and separate trees by two times their height. Don’t plant shrubs or vines beneath them.
Read more about defensible landscaping

Note: There’s no completely fireproof plant. But click ahead for 5 plants that can slow a fire if they’re watered and pruned regularly.


Photo by Mark Turner

Fire-smart plants: Bearberry

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

These mat-forming groundcovers have small green leaves that turn red in winter, and white to pinkish spring blooms.

Sun to light shade. Sunset climate zones A1–A3; 1–9, 14–24


Photo by Linda Lamb Peters

Fire-smart plants: lavender

Lavandula dentata

The plant’s leaves contain scented oils, but it’s slow to ignite if watered regularly. (It’s one of the few water-wise plants that’s also fire-wise.)

Full sun. Zones 8, 9, 12–24.

Monkey flower

Photo by Proven Winners

Fire-smart plants: monkey flower


Many of these narrow-leafed perennials are well adapted to the dry West. Some have orange blooms; others scarlet or bicolored.

Full sun or part shade. Zones vary by species.

Ice plant

Photo by Mark Turner

Fire-smart plants: ice plant


Ground­covers with succulent leaves and daisylike flowers of bright pink (D. cooperi) or yellow (D. nubigenum).

Sun or light afternoon shade in hottest climates. Zones 2–24.

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