Aloe succulent (Teenoo / Getty Images)

A few easy steps can save not just your garden but your home as well. An exhibit at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden can show you how.

Michelle Lau  – November 1, 2017 | Updated September 14, 2020

With deadly wildfires raging, thousands have been forced to evacuate their homes in the West.

We talked with Lindsey Collinsworth, education director at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden, for a few tips on fire safety. 

The park’s new Fire Safe Garden, which is currently open to visitors, is a collaborative and educational project between Cal Fire, the Fire Safe Council, and other granting agencies. The garden is separated into two firescaping zones. First, there is the Garden Zone, which is within 30 feet of the home and is the most important in fire safety. All fuel needs to be removed from this zone, to make it, as Collinsworth describes, “lean, clean, and green.” The design of the garden is arranged in concentric circles, explains Collinsworth, so the house can be protected no matter which direction a fire comes from.

The second zone is the Fuel Reduction Zone, which is 30 to 100 feet from the home and on slopes and above canyons. Shrubs in this area should be spaced away from trees to avoid “ladders” for the fire to climb into the canopy.

Embers from a wildfire can travel a mile. To protect your garden at home, Collinsworth suggests these five tips:

Remove Dead Branches 

 

 

Melanie Acevedo / Getty Images

Mow down dead annual grasses, as well.

Install Succulents

 

 

Perennial succulent (Dudleya pulverulenta) Claire Takacs / Getty Images

Plant these water-storing specimens, instead of relying on water-heavy lawns and turfs.

Maintain Your Garden

 

 

Aeonium arboreum atropurpureum, Anthony Collins / Getty Images

Fire-resistant plants should be healthy, green, properly spaced, irrigated regularly, and pruned to reduce fuel volume

Avoid Highly Flammable Structures 

Gravel path and rocks in landscaped garden (Spaces Images / Getty Images)

Rethink hazards like wooden fences, furniture, and decks near the house. Consider aluminum, bricks, cinder blocks, and concrete as alternatives. Other fire resistant materials worth considering are non-combustible pebbles, decomposed granite, gravel, sand, pavers, or brick that allow for water penetration, instead of large areas of mulch.

Store Wood in a Fireproof Container

 

 

Outdoor firewood (Lorenzo Garassino/ EyeEm/ Getty Images)

 

For more inspiration, hundreds of drought-tolerant and fire-resistant plants have been installed at the Fire Safe Garden, which connects with a hiking trail that takes visitors through a portion of the botanical garden’s 150-acre site.

You can also check out plenty of fire safety tips located on the garden’s website.

 

 

 

 


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