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What Plants are more Fire Resilient?

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
What Plants are more Fire Resilient?

Bonica shrub roses.jpeg

Normally the sound of weed-whackers disrupts the tranquility of living the soulful country life, but this year, I am grateful to hear their constant buzzing. With a summer of historical dryness in front of us bringing a looming fire danger, cutting the grasses on hillsides, paths, and in backyards is imperative. I’ve been working on my property since early February weeding, cutting, pruning, mulching, repairing, and planting in preparation for a hot, dangerous year. You are encouraged to walk through your landscape and make sure you are also ready for whatever may transpire. We want to keep our community picturesque as well as safe. We all play a part in protecting our precious land and lives.

Flammable grass on hillside..jpeg

My articles on creating an Emergency Go-Bag (https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1507/Packing-an-emergency-Go-Bag.html) and Wildfire Protection through Landscaping

(https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1507/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Wildfire-protection-through-landscaping.html) elicited numerous emails and comments. The number one request was to supply a list of plants that would be fire-retardant and fire-resistant.

When planning a new garden or adding plants to an existing landscape, it is essential to be reminded that no plant is fire-proof. Everything can and will burn if the temperature is hot enough. Also, even if a plant tag indicates that it is fire-resistant, it must be properly maintained, pruned, irrigated, spaced, and positioned in the correct locations to thrive. Plants that have been infested with pests, are too old, or are stressed will be more flammable. Plants that are not nurtured could create a problem for other vegetation. Inspect your botanicals carefully. 

GARDEN ZONES

ZONE 1: DEFENSIBLE ZONE

Plants within 30 feet of a structure need to be considered for fire-retardance. This is Zone 1, the defensible space of your garden which will be able to withstand extreme heat and flying embers. Plants need to be watered thoroughly, trees are preferably deciduous, and the leaves of plants will be moist, fleshy, and broad.

Groundcovers for this area include:

Lawn grasses

Ajuga

Isotoma

Gazania

Alyssum

Moss

Nasturtium

Vinca

Dwarf Plumbago

Chamomile

Zone 1 Perennials include:

Acanthus

Agapanthus

Artemisia

Bergenia

Canna

Dusty Miller

Shasta Daisy

Chrysanthemum

Coreopsis

Foxglove

Ferns

Geranium

Daylilies

Impatiens

Hosta

Heuchera

Penstemon

Pelargonium

New Zealand Flax

Lamb’s Ear

Calla lilies

Bird of Paradise

Zone 1 Shrubs include:

Rose

Privet

Boxwood

Camellia

Photinia

Mock Orange

Gardenia

Hibiscus

Pittosporum

Azalea

Rhododendron

Lilac

Viburnum

Oleander

Zone 1 Vines include:

Clematis

Trumpet Vine

Grape

Jasmine

Bower Vine

Wisteria

wisteria arbor, roses, trumpet vine.jpeg

Zone 1 Trees include:

Fruit trees

Magnolia

Maple

Redbud

Birch

Pineapple Guava

Dogwood

Crape Myrtle

Liquid Amber

Ornamental Pear

Pepper Tree

sprinklers on lawn.jpeg

ZONE 2: FUEL BREAK

From 31 feet to 70 feet from a structure, and even further up on slopes, is the greenbelt area which is designed to halt the fire. Plants in this area are the most fire-retardant with low fuels and high moisture content. These plantings can withstand neglect, freezes, droughts, and even insect infestations and still be fire-retardant. Ground covers don’t grow over 18 inches. Trees and shrubs have space between them. In general, although succulents and cactus may not survive a fire, they are the best at retarding one.

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Zone 2 Groundcovers include:

Succulents

Ice plant

Yarrow

Artemisia

Morning glory

Coreopsis

Santa Barbara Daisy

Asiastic Lilies and santa barbara daisies.jpeg

Wild strawberry

Gazania

Primrose

Osteospermum

hillside in bloom after weeding-mulch.jpeg

Clover

Verbena

Zone 2 Perennials include:

Yarrow

Dusty Miller

California Poppy

Iris

Gaura

Euphorbia

Chrysanthemum

Coreopsis

Statice

Candytuft

Lupine

Red-Hot Poker

Sage

Yucca

Zone 2 Shrubs include:

Succulents

agave.jpeg

Cactus

Oleander

Pomegranate

Rockrose

Zone 2 Vines include:

Virginia Creeper

Lady Banks Rose

Honeysuckle

Nightshade

Senecio Confusus

Zone 2 Trees include:

Carob

Strawberry Tree

Redbud

Honey Locust

Chinese Pistache

California Black Oak

Sumac

Yucca

Joshua Tree

GENERAL FIRE-RESISTANT PLANTS

Although no plant is 100% fire-proof, these plants are less likely to burn. Several are already listed for Zones 1 and 2.  

Bulbs (tulips, daffodils, iris, hyacinth, freesia, etc. Cut stalks to the ground when leaves are dry)

California redbud

Sage

Penstemon

Heather

Fuchsia

Columbine

Thyme

Poppy

Wild strawberry

Common yarrow

French lavender

Lantana

Lilac

Coreopsis

Ajuga

California lilac

Society garlic

Jasmine

Periwinkle

Alliums

Dianthus

Yellow or Purple Ice Plant

Creeping Phlox

Lamium

Sedum

Succulents

Veronica

Armeria

Agapanthus

Trumpet Vine

Daylily

Heuchera

Hosta

Red-Hot Poker

Lupine

Delphinium

Echinacea

Lamb’s ear

Yucca

Rose

Salvia

Evening primrose

Daphne

Boxwood

Rhododendron

Spirea

Dogwood

Mock orange

Azalea

Currant

Viburnum

Aloe

Primrose

Candytuft

African Daisy

Calendula

TREES:

Horse Chestnut

Liquid Amber

Honey Locust

Crabapple

Purple Robe Locust

Fruit Trees (varieties of cherry, plum, pear, peach, apricot, pomegranate, fig)

Black Oak

Hawthorne

Birch

Aspen

Poplar

Maple

Manzanita (prune without deadwood)

Walnut 

California Bay Laurel

California Pepper

Remember that deciduous plants are less flammable than evergreen. Gray and silver plants have a high mineral and ash content which makes them more fire-resistant. Vegetation with needles or fine, thin leaves is flammable. The more stored moisture a plant has, the more it can withstand a fire. Use less-flammable types of mulch, such as gravel or decorative rock, or a combination of wood bark mulch and decorative rock to dress your garden, retain moisture, and deter weed growth.

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To burn, fires need fuel. By removing debris, planting and maintaining a fire-retardant and fire-resistant landscape, cutting down dead trees, thinning dried branches, spacing, pruning, watering, and keeping trees away from roofs, you will dimmish the chance of ignition, lower fire intensity, and reduce the spread of a blaze. Your home will have a better chance of surviving a wildfire. 

Best of all, you can still create a gorgeous oasis where you can entertain, relax, and socialize.

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You don’t want fires to crawl fueled by unkempt low-lying vegetation, high grasses, or mounds of leaves.  Get out the weed whackers and go to work.  Be fire safe and enjoy a wonderful summer. 

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Congratulations to the graduates and Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads.

Photos and more:

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1508/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Fire-retardant-and-fire-resistant-plantings.html

mr lincoln roses (1).jpeg

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

cyn-exhausting garden day.jpeg

Buy copies of her books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD and special savings.

cynthia brian's books.jpg

Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Landscaping for Fire Prevention

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
Landscaping for Fire Prevention

agave.jpeg

By Cynthia Brian

“Fire is never a gentle master.” Proverb

This past year most of our conversations have revolved around the pandemic, masking wearing, and questions about recovery and normalcy. With the impending drought, an urgent topic that is on the minds of Californians is the potential for wildfires. With increasing climate changes and the trend of global warming, it is not a matter of if we’ll be faced with fires, it is when. 

We can do our part to protect our property as best as possible through firescaping, a landscape design that reduces house and property vulnerability to wildfire. While enhancing the beauty of the property and creating a defensible space, we surround the house with plants that are less likely to ignite. Fires respect no boundaries and fires don’t honor property lines. With enough heat, almost everything burns.

Our neck of the woods is rural and wooded. We have minimal escape routes and must be extra vigilant. Many of the plants and trees growing throughout our area are highly flammable including pines, cypress, cedar, fir, bamboo, acacia, juniper, Pampas grass, rosemary, ivy, arborvitae, miscanthus, and eucalyptus. Coyote brush, although moderately fire-resistant when it is young and green, is highly combustible as it grows. It depends on fires to regenerate and grows everywhere in our hills. These plants need to be removed or carefully supervised. Since heat moves up, fire speed and severity are stronger on slopes where vegetation management is crucial.

A defensible space is an area around a structure that has been cleared of ignitable debris and botanicals that may cause a public safety hazard. A watered, green lawn can be considered a defensible space. A large brick, stone, or gravel area could be part of a defensible space.

sprinklers on lawn.jpeg

No plant is fireproof. 

Under the right conditions, every plant will burn, especially those that are drought-stressed or not maintained. Pruning of all plants makes them less flammable. A “fire-safe” plant means that it tends not to be a significant fuel source with a chemical composition that resists heat and combustion. It is critical to keep plants around our homes well-tended and pruned as a fire protection tool. The closer plants are to the house, the more care is needed. 

Every homeowner is responsible for managing their vegetation to meet Fire District requirements. For MOFD requirements, combustible materials must be two feet away from a structure and plantings no taller than two feet high. Low-growing ground coverings and green grass are suitable as well as river rock, gravel, or crushed granite. Trees that are within six feet of the structure need to be removed, specifically eucalyptus, pine, bamboo, and junipers.

Neighborhoods are encouraged to form a committee to receive advice from local fire professionals on how to be Fire Wise. Being Fire Wise is dependent on the diligence of everyone in a neighborhood to keep a property fire safe. All properties become indefensible when one neighbor has overgrown bushes, brush, or low hanging trees. Neighbors must protect neighbors by making certain their properties are maintained. Again, fires do not honor property lines.

Characteristics of highly flammable flora

  • o Dry and dead leaves, twigs, branches
  • o Abundant, dense foliage
  • o Needles
  • o Low moisture foliage
  • o Peeling, loose bark
  • o Gummy sap
  • o Leathery, dry, or aromatic leaves
  • o Content of terpene, oils, or resin
  • o Dry uncut grasses

Characteristics of reasonably fire-resistant plants?

  • o Hardy, slow-growing plants that don’t produce litter or thatch.
  • o Drought tolerant natives with internal high-water content. Generally, but not always, California natives are more tolerant of fire and deer.
  • o Trees with thick bark that restrict the growth of invasive shrub species and hardwood trees such as walnut, cherry, maple, and poplar are less flammable. Deciduous trees and shrubs are more fire-resistant because they have higher moisture content when in leaf, lower fuel volume when dormant, and usually do not contain flammable oils.
  • o Supple, moist leaves with little to no sap or resin residue.
  • o Low growing ground covers.
  • o Bulbs with dried leaves cut to the ground.
  • o What can you do now to create a more fire-resistant landscape?
  • o Include pavers, bricks, pavement, gravel, rocks, dry creek beds, fountains, ponds, pools, and lawns. 
  • o Select high moisture plants that grow close to the ground with a low sap and resin content
  • o Plant the right plant in the correct location. Leave space between plants.
  • o Minimize the inclusion of evergreen trees within thirty feet of structures. Clear the understory. Keep trees twenty feet away from chimneys. 
  • o Remove invasive species or swaths of flammable plants including ivy, rosemary, broom, coyote brush, chamise, and juniper.
  • o Keep mulch moist. Create zones of rock, brick, or gravel. Bark and leaves are not mulches recommended near structures.
  • o Prune trees 6-10 feet above the ground to hinder fire laddering.
  • o Keep appropriate clearance to reduce the threat of burning embers from decorative features such as gazebos, fences, sheds, porches, and junk areas.  
  • o Irrigate and maintain all flora, lawns, and hillsides. Clover, groundcovers, and grasses that are kept low and green are excellent alternatives. 
  • o Due to soil erosion, bare ground is not recommended.
  • gravel path.jpeg

Prone to Ignite Plants

If you have these specimens in your garden, prune and maintain appropriately or eliminate them.

Acacia

Arborvitae or Thuya

Bamboo

Greasewood or Chamise

French, Spanish, and Scotch Broom

Ivy

Cypress

Eucalyptus

Juniper

Burning Bush or Gas plant

Pampas Grass

Palm

Pine

Rosemary

Cedar

Douglas Fir

Coyote Bush

Pride of Madeira 

General Rules of Fire Safety

HEED the checklist from our local fire departments to create a defensible space around your home.  Follow fire district recommendations:

  • o Prevent embers from igniting your home by clearing leaves, needles, and debris from gutters, eaves, porches, and decks.
  • o Mow grasses and weeds.
  • o Keep your garden watered.
  • o Prune tree limbs to keep the lowest branches 6-10 feet from the ground.
  • o Reduce “fire fuel laddering” by not allowing bushes or trees to touch one another.
  • o Keep combustible materials 15-30 feet away from structures.
  • o Maintain your property and be alert for any fire danger.
  • river rock canal (1).jpeg

Weed abatement must be completed by June 1st. Get out there and get your landscape more fire-resistant. We all have a responsibility to one another to help keep our community from experiencing a wildfire. 

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Be fire safe.

Photos: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1507/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Wildfire-protection-through-landscaping.html

cyn-flowering cherry.jpeg

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy copies of her best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD.

cyntha brian with books.jpg

Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Listen to StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are! on the Voice America Radio Network Wednesdays 4-5pm PT LIVE or in the archives at https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2206/be-the-star-you-are

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