Justin White, Landscaping Lessons | Preparing for wildfire season Part 3 – Santa Cruz Sentinel

Following on from the final landscaping lesson, this week we’re going to dive into what you need to know to keep your property more fireproof, especially in Zone 1.

Zone 1: 9 m from “Lean, Clean & Green” in all directions of your structure (s). This first line of defense includes keeping tree branches 10 feet from any structure, removing dry needles and leaves from your roof, gutters, or yard, and removing dead weeds, grass, or plants. Wooden piles should also be laid from Zone 1 to Zone 2.

Here are some ideas you can use to harden your zone 1 property:

Remove all dead plants, dry brush and weeds.

If you have natural land in Zone 1, consider redesigning this area with fireproof plants to reduce the amount of weeds and scrub.

Remove leaves, pine needles, or any other debris that builds up in your yard. If you have pine or other conifers, it’s important to rake the needles every two weeks to make sure the embers don’t land and catch fire on the ground.

Remove any leaves or debris that may have accumulated in any drains, gutters, or other open holes.

Prune the branches of trees to allow at least 3 feet of clearance from all structures. This is one that most mountain homes will hurt in my opinion, and it is the easiest way a fire can spread to your building.

Edging trees by the trunk so that a ground fire cannot easily penetrate the treetops. This is called the ladder effect and can easily be prevented.

Relocate wood piles or wood storage facilities in Zone 2, at least 9 m from your home.

Remove flammable shrubs that are near your house and windows.

Remove vegetation that can catch fire around your patio or wooden stairs as these are known areas that can set your home on fire.

Plant your trees far enough apart to separate the canopy. If possible, use a similar method of 10 feet between trees to reduce fire from canopy to canopy spread.

Use rock mulch whenever possible.

The basic idea for Zone 1 is to create a clean and manicured area that is difficult for embers to land and catch fire. Each property will be a little different so check your area for any specific fire protection method applications.

Review the final section of the Landscaping lesson Preparing for Wildfire Season, which covers Zone 2 of Defensible Space, and how you can follow these guidelines to keep your property and home more fire-proof.

Justin White is CEO of K&D Landscaping, headquartered in Watsonville, California, and was named Business of the Year 2020 by the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce. White is also the current president of the local California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) on the central coast. He is involved in several nonprofits across the community. For more information on landscaping, outdoor and gardening needs, please contact K&D Landscaping at kndlandscaping.com.

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