The peak of our local wildfire season is still on track for later this Summer and into Fall. Knowing how to create defensible space can potentially save your home and property. Defensible space is the buffer you create between a building on your property, the grass, trees, shrubs, or any other wildland that surrounds it. The space helps to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and it protects your home from catching fire embers, direct flames, contact, or radiant heat.
This is the most important zone as it refers to the area nearest your home 0’-5’ including surfaces of the structure itself and all areas under and around attached decks. Along with hardening your home use the next steps as guidance
- Remove or relocate all combustible materials including garbage and recycling containers, lumber, trash, and patio accessories.
- Clean all fallen leaves and needles.
- No vegetation is recommended within 5’ of any structure.
- Do not store firewood, lumber, or combustibles here instead store them inside or at least 30’ from any structure.
- Use only inorganic, non-combustible mulches such as stone or gravel.
- Replace jute or natural fiber doormats with heavy rubber or metal grates.
This zone extends from your homes exterior walls to a distance of 30’ including other structures, decks, and your property line.
- Remove all dead grasses, weeds, plants, & foliage, fallen leaves, needles, twigs, bark, cones, and small branches.
- Use only compost or heavy bark mulch to maintain soil moisture, or for erosion control.
- Choose only fire-smart plants and keep them healthy and well irrigated.
- Provide spacing between shrubs, at least 2 times the height of the mature plant. Add space on steeper slopes.
- Trim trees to remove limbs 6’ to 10’ from the ground.
- Remove branches that overhang your roof or within 10’ of chimneys.
- Remove combustibles around and under decks and awnings.
- Clear vegetation around fences, sheds, outdoor furniture, and play structures.
This zone extends 30’ to at least 100’. More defensible space may be required based on topography, vegetation, or building construction.
- Cut or mow annual grass down to a maximum height of 4 inches.
- Create horizontal and vertical spacing between grass, shrubs, and trees.
- Remove fallen leaves, needles, twigs, bark, cones, and small branches. However, they may be permitted to a depth of 3 inches if erosion control is an issue.
- Remove all piles of dead vegetation.
- Not all properties have 100’ space between structures and parcel lines and that is why it is important to work with your neighbors to help create defensible space for each other.