Wildfire lessons

What to do now to protect your home and garden

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Consult these resources for additional guidelines:

www.firewise.org This site, sponsored by the National Wildland/Urban Interface Fire Program, offers a free book (you pay shipping) called Firewise Communities: Where We Live, How We Live; it includes photographs of fire-safe landscapes.

www.laspilitas.com Las Pilitas Nursery provides fire-safe guidelines and a list of fire-resistant plants.

www.lafd.org/brush On the Los Angeles Fire Department's website, you'll find a fire-safety checklist.


What, if anything, can be done now or soon to repair the scorched landscape? In the past, seeding with annual ryegrass has been relied on, says Tom Scott, a University of California at Berkeley natural resources specialist based at UC Riverside. But seeding has not proven to be an effective slope stabilizer. "What it does manage to do," Scott says, "is interfere with the natural healing process." Western native-plant communities recover on their own, he says. Shrubs often resprout within the first week after a fire, he adds.

Doing nothing, at least initially, is the best course of action in home gardens as well, says Vincent Lazaneo, an urban horticultural advisor with UC Cooperative Extension, San Diego. "If the fire hasn't burned through the cambium layer (the growth tissue), plants survive," he says. Wait to see if any new growth emerges in midspring, he advises. Delaying any new planting until after winter rains is a good idea anyway. "Even if a plant is dead, its roots help stabilize the soil for at least a year," Lazaneo explains.


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