This San Diego yard is verdant—and resists wildfires. Follow its lessons for creating your own gorgeous, fire-smart landscape
1 of 7Photo by Jennifer Cheung
A lush, vibrant landsape is every gardeners aim. But what if you live in the middle of wildfire country?
Great news: Your gardening goals don't have to change in high-risk fire areas, just the means by which you plan to reach them.
Before this landscape was reimagined, a thick blanket of worn-out junipers covered the slopes; their resinous foliage is potentially dangerous in a firestorm.
Click ahead for fire-wise tips on what to plant, where to plant it, and how to keep all your garden's charm minus the wildfire threat.
2 of 7Photo by Jennifer Cheung
Replace flammable plants
Agaves are great fire-smart plants, and their sculptural shapes make them perfect candidates for bold, contemporary gardens.
They tolerate most soils as long as they have good drainage, need only modest amounts of water, and rarely require fertilizer.
3 of 7Photo by Jennifer Cheung
Fleshy-leafed (and water-retaining) plants are good choices for fire-wise gardens.
Dotting the poolside landscape, pictured here, are nearly black aeoniums around a tall tree aloe, plus agaves, and a floss silk tree (Ceiba speciosa)—whose trunk is studded with water-storing prickles.
4 of 7Photo by Jennifer Cheung
Water, water everything
The more hydrated any plant is, the more fire-resistant it will be. Although drought-tolerant plants abound in this garden, they still need occasional deep watering to keep them from drying out and becoming potential fuel.
5 of 7Photo by Jennifer Cheung
Avoid hanging hazards
Although these trees appear to hug the house—a fire-safety no-no—they don’t actually overhang it. They’re also spaced well apart, and kept well watered and pruned.
6 of 7Photo by Jennifer Cheung
Skip the tanbark
In a fire-wise garden, use gravel or decomposed granite—not flammable bark mulch—to cover the bare ground around plants. It also helps keep weeds down and looks better with succulents.
7 of 7Photo by Jennifer Cheung
Keep things simple
Leave space between plantings, which reduces the risk of “fire ladders” (fires that climb to the crowns of nearby trees). Boulders and block walls also help to slow the spread of flames.