Wednesday, August 6, 2014

It's raining outside...so why am I thinking of fire resistant plants?

When you think of wild fires, you think of California, right?  All those houses in the way of wildfires, firefighters bravely fighting to save them and people and animals...well, a hot, dry summer and the wrong kind of plants close to your house and a fire source and you've got a problem anywhere, not just on some distant California hillside.

Even if it's not as hot and dry as California or Nevada or wherever, there's still the possibility of fire.  When congresscritters can't seem to find the money to fight wildfires out West, it's up to the prudent homeowner/prepper to ensure that their major, major investment - not just their house, their home, is safe from fire.

You need to have a zone of about 30 feet out from your house that has no or very few potential fuel sources, such as no eucalyptus trees or hedges that accumulate a lot of dead needles or foliage or have potentially volatile chemicals in their makeup (the ever popular juniper tam is on the list of plants to avoid).  While I live in the Pacific Northwest and enjoy (um...well...maybe endure is a better word) the rainy climate we have here, this publication talks about fire resistant plants and creating a safe zone around your house; watering and pruning to keep dry, dead material to a minimum is critical to keeping your fire-break intact, so when you think of storing water, remember that you have not only people, but plants, to keep alive (which is why I'm putting in a water storage system that will take the rainwater off the metal roof of an outbuilding and store it in barrels for future use).  And if this topic is being addressed in the supposedly wet Pacific Northwest, i.e., Western Washington, you know it's of vital important anywhere that dry climate and hot weather combine, as in Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon, and so on.

One thing about planting at a distance from your house:  it puts the plants where you can see them.  And you don't have to have a house stuck in a sea of lawn with no other plants; annuals, kept watered properly, or perennials that are fire-resistant, can work closer to the house itself.  However, even plants that are fire resistant can burn, so your landscaping should take into account not just type, but distance and potential as fuel in a fire. See this site for more information on preventing and reacting to fire, including a fire emergency plan and landscape planning for fire prevention.  The page has a rather telling burned wood background...