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Firescaping - Designing Landscape to Reduce Fire Hazard

Posted by Daniel Mizrahi on Friday, January 05, 2018

All of us living here in the Los Angeles region have always known about fire danger. However, with the recent catastrophic fires that have ravaged our state, the issue now presses us much more urgently. While lanscaping alone cannot protect our homes from fire, it can reduce the danger that we would face in the event of a wildfire. Nicknamed "Firescaping," this strategic use of plants and hardscape is a wise choice for Los Angeles homeowners.

Don't Feed the Fire!

Any trees that drop organic matter can contribute to fire hazard. For example, eucalyptus trees drop peeling  bark and dried leaves, and some species of pine drop a lot of dry cones and needles. It may be wise to replace these kinds of trees with those that create less hazard. If you decide to keep them, then you'll want to get in the habit of removing the fallen materials.

The main key to reducing the risk of fire is by not providing fuel, or easily-burnable materials. Tall, dry grasses and woody shrubs can quickly spread a blaze. In contast, succulent plants (ice plant, cactus...) and irrigated lawns give fires little to work with. 

Finally, wooden decks and fences are a definite fire-inviter, especially if the deck's underside is easily-accessible. A patio of paver stones or tile, in contrast, is an effective fire barrier. Alternatively, use a less-flammable composite decking material to discourage fires. For fences, consider wire mesh or masonry.

Create a Defensible Space

One of the key components of firescaping is to create a defensible space, or a non-burnable perimeter around your home. Consider having a completely non-flammable zone of at least 6 feet around your home. This is a good place for concrete, pavers, or gravel. 

Beyond this close zone, low groundcover is best. Any shrubs should be in tight groups, widely-spaced. Taller trees should have the lower branches trimmed, and the crown of one tree should be at least 15 feet from the crown of the next. 

Take a good look at the following image. While the landscaping is beautiful, it is far too dense, and far too close to the house to create a safe fire barrier.

Advantages of Hardscaping

Hardscaping relies on natural, non-flammable materials such as gravel, stone, brick, and even bare dirt. When done well, it is very attractive, and it offers the benefits of requiring little water or maintenance. 

Landscaping, Firescaping, and Hardscaping Services in the L.A. Area

Open Hand Remodeling provides a wide range of services, including landscaping and hardscaping, for residents of the Los Angeles area. We would be happy to work with you to plan out and implement a design for your property that incorporates these firescaping principles. 

In addition to hardscaping, Open Hand offers kitchen and bath remodels, whole house renovations, and home additions. We serve Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Burbank, Glendale, and the greater Los Angeles region.

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Open Hand Remodeling Co., Building Contractors, Pasadena, CA