Defensive Landscaping

Good gardening habits can increase your home's chances of wildfire survival

Did you know that your landscaping choices can increase your home's chances of surving a wildfire? Whether or not you live in a wildfire-prone area, following these "firescaping" tips can help you protect your family and your home. 


More than a thousand fires a year are caused by people performing basic gardening tasks. It is important to regularly mow your lawn, trim your trees, and clear weeds. But when you do, keep these things in mind to minimize the risk of starting a fire. 

  • Install spark arrestors on all portable gasoline-powered eqiupment, including tractors, trimmers, mowers, harvesters, and chain saws. 
  • Use mowers on a healthy lawn, but not on weeds or dry grass. Use a trimmer instead.
  • Metal blades striking rocks can potentially spark a fire. So if it's windy or especially dry, postpone the landscaping until conditions change. Also, use your mower or trimmer only before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m., when temperatures are lower and less likely to fuel a fire.
  • Never park your vehicle on dry grass. Hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires under vehicles, where the flames might go unnocticed.



  • Use plants with a high-moisture/low-sap content, which are more fire resistent, when creating a garden. Good choices for ground cover include wild strawberry, showy penstemon, rockrose, ice plant, and aloe.
  • If you plant shrubs, go with fire-resistent choices such as hedging roses, bush honeysuckles, monkey flower, sage, and lavender. Less flammable trees include hardwoods, maples, poplars, California sycamores, and live oaks.
  • Avoid placing plants adjacent to the side of your residence or near any wooden decks, where flames could easily spread to your home.
  • Spread small rocks or stones on bare areas or create paths with large stepping-stones to create firebreaks. Avord bark mulch; if it catches fire, it tends to smolder and can be hard to extinguish. 
  • Build decks, porches, and planters with materials such as brick, stone, concrete, or wood composites with an A rating for fire resistance.