Although fall is approaching, we must remember that fire season is year-round for those of us who live in Southern California. The Gavilan Fire occurred on February 10, 2002, and destroyed 47 homes and burned more than 5,000 acres.
Defensible space is typically the 100-foot-radius zone around your home or buildings.
The 100-foot clearance does not mean complete clearing. Create a pleasing natural-looking landscaped garden and property by staggering plants, shrubs and trees, thus reducing the chance of a direct fire path to your home.
Spacing may require removing some vegetation and planting either native species or imported plant varieties. It is not necessary to remove all native fire prone vegetation.
The two fuel modification zones
The first zone is called the “Lean, Clean and Green” zone. It includes the area from the building to a point 30 feet away. North County Fire Protection District recommends 50 feet if your property is located on a hill.
This zone must be modified and planted with fire-resistive plants. Prune trees so the lowest limbs are six to 10 feet from the ground.
Create a ‘fire-free’ area within five feet of your home, using non-flammable landscaping materials and low-growing, high moisture plants around your home.
Remove leaf clutter and dead or overhanging branches from your roofline and chimney. Store firewood at least 30 feet from any structures.
The second zone is the area between 30 and 100 feet from the building, or to property line. In this zone, the native vegetation may remain but it must be thinned by 50 percent and all dead and dying vegetation must be removed.
Irrigation is optional with various plant requirements.
Also remember to:
• Keep your road and driveway clear. Overgrown trees and vegetation and unmaintained palms prevent fire truck access and may block your evacuation.
• Post your house address at the beginning of your driveway and on your house so it is easily visible from the road.
• Purchase a home fire gel kit.
• Schedule a free home inspection with Sid Morel, Fire Marshal of North County Fire Protection District, at (760) 723-2015.
For more information regarding undesirable plants and recommended landscaping, visit http://www.ncfireprotectiondistrict.org/pdf/bureau/Recomended Landscaping.pdf.
On November 21 a free ‘Be Fire-wise/Firescaping’ workshop will be offered at Southwest Boulder & Stone in Rainbow.
Watch for next week’s installment, “How to create defensible space.”
Roger Boddaert is a landscape designer/certified arborist who can be reached at (760) 728-4297.