Wildfire Protection For Your Home Starts With Your Yard

If you have just moved to a region that is covered with brush or that is near brushy areas that are prone to wildfires, you must re-evaluate how the yard is set up. When wildfires spread, the vegetation in your yard and the structures near your house are among the chief routes for those flames. By changing your yard and looking at certain features on your property, you have an increased chance of protecting your home from wildfire.

Defensible Space

Defensible space is an area in a certain radius around your home. By properly modifying and replanting, as well as trimming and cleaning, you can substantially reduce the problem of spreading flames. Defensible space is divided into two zones—one that stretches for 30 feet from the perimeter of your home and one that stretches 100 feet. Each zone has its own requirements; note that if your home is at the edge of a brushy slope, like in a canyon, you're responsible for the vegetation extending down the slope as well (if the slope is steep, do not attempt to handle the brush yourself—get landscapers or fire prevention and protection engineers to remove and modify the foliage).

The requirements include cutting grass, clearing dead trees and branches, watering properly, and so on. This is not a one-time thing. You have to maintain the defensible space for the entire time you have the home.


Defensible space is part of a larger strategy called firescaping. This is a form of landscaping that involves planting in the yard so that even the plants help you avoid spreading flames to your home. For example, to firescape properly, you need to avoid planting (or remove if already planted) trees like eucalyptus, whose oil is highly flammable. Instead, you'd want to plant fire-resistant/retardant species like maple. A large part of firescaping is dedicated to keeping everything trim and neat so that there are no piles of dead leaves or other fuel sources that could serve as hot spots.

Remember the Edges of Your House

All your firescaping efforts can easily be thwarted by a lazy neighbor whose messy yard is too close to your home. Take a look at your walkways, eaves, fences, swingsets, and other features and replace them with fire-safe versions, such as fencing that isn't flammable.

Planning is your friend when it comes to firescaping and fire protection. Contact a fire protection engineer and a landscaping company with firescaping experience to help find the right plan for your yard and your ability to care for the yard.