Recent warm weather conditions served as a good reminder for Santa Rosa residents and landscape contractors to do their part to reduce the continued threat of wildfires this season by using proper equipment and adhere to the following recommendations when cutting and maintaining dry seasonal grasses. Jurisdictions across Sonoma County have Weed Abatement Ordinances requiring applicable property owners to keep weeds and grasses cut down and maintained throughout the fire season. As part of this requirement, property owners, contractors, and retailers must be aware of the proper mechanical equipment recommended for safe weed abatement and how to properly use that equipment to prevent additional fires this season in our community.
The Santa Rosa Fire Department has responded to numerous fires over the last several years that were preventable. In many cases improper equipment was being used to cut dry grasses and open fields. Most mowers are designed to cut normal residential grasses. Operators should not attempt to use a lawn mower to mow through unusually tall, dry grass, or piles of dry leaves. The metal blades can strike a rock and ignite a fire. Fire officials recommend that weed abatement and mowing of seasonal grasses be conducted before 10 a.m. and should be avoided altogether during excessively dry, hot, and windy days. Continue to monitor and maintain weeds and dry grasses through the season and cut/mow more then once if needed.
When installing or planning your landscaping; proper placement can make a difference. Any plant can burn under the right conditions. For all plants, maintenance is key. When choosing species to plant within 30ft of your home it is helpful to choose varieties with the following characteristics:
- Able to store water in leaves and stems
- Produce limited dead and fine material
- Maintain high moisture content with limited watering (i.e., Succulents)
- Low growing or open form
- Open loose branches with a low volume of total vegetation
- Low levels of volatile oils or resins
- Slow growing with little maintenance needed
- Not considered invasive
Visit SRCity.org/WildfireReady to learn more about Weed Abatement and other related topics.