Protecting your trees and landscape from wildfires is more essential today than ever before. Nova Scotia’s weather patterns and climate are being impacted by global warming and climate change. Winters are becoming more mild, with less snowfall. Springs are remaining cool, but with little precipitation compared to years ago. The summers are becoming increasingly hotter and drier, with warm temperatures extending further into the fall months.
As homeowners, we need to be proactive in fire proofing our property from potential wildfire threats, particularly during the dry, hot, seasons. Properly maintaining your vegetation through responsible vegetation management is crucial for creating a defensible space around your property. Preparing your yard to prevent forest fires is crucial in keeping your home and family safe.
What can you do to help minimize fire spread and damage to your landscape and home?
1. Maintaining the trees. Keeping trees healthy makes them less prone to fire damage. Regular pruning of dead or overgrown branches is essential as these are the ones that often catch fire easily. It is also essential to keep trees well hydrated during hot, dry conditions. Regular tree fertilization, hydration and treatment for pests and diseases will improve overall tree health, making it stronger and more resistant to burning.
Removing dry vegetation and debris from the tree’s vicinity is necessary as it can fuel the flames. Placing mulch around the tree can help in moisture retention and prevent soil dryness directly surrounding the tree base.
2. Keep the yard, particularly around the home clear of excess debris. Ensure that your yard is free from dry leaves, twigs, grass clippings and other potential fire hazards. Also consider increasing the time between lawn mowing. Lawn mowing in dry, hot months will cause the grass to dry out and become brown looking. Green grass takes longer to burn than short, dry, brown grass.
3. Use fire-resistant materials: When designing or updating your landscape, opt for fire-resistant materials such as rocks, gravel, and concrete. Choose plants that are less flammable, such as succulents and deciduous trees (trees with leaves). These types of trees have high water content in their bark and leaves, shed leaves annually, and produce less wax, resin, or oil.
Evergreens or conifers keep their needles year round, which can add fuel to wildfires. Planting fire-resistant trees like red maple, oak, and dogwood can lessen the severity of fire damage.
Keeping the vegetation, plants and trees in your landscape that are native to NS is preferred, as these species have adapted to the climate in NS and have survived hundreds of years in these conditions.
4. Create a defensible space by clearing a 30-foot radius around your home and removing any combustible materials. Tree and plant placement is a critical aspect when it comes to creating a defensible space. Vegetation that touches your home’s siding or roof, under windows, eaves and vents, or near a deck will increase the likelihood of the fire coming into contact with the home and destroying it during a wildfire.
5. Properly store flammable goods: Keep flammable materials, such as propane tanks and gasoline, in a secure location away from your home, preferably in a shed or garage.
6. Install fire-resistant barriers: Consider installing fire-resistant barriers such as concrete or masonry walls around your property to slow the spread of fires.
7. Construct fire-resistant roofs: Install a fire-resistant roof made from materials such as metal, tile, or asphalt. This helps prevent embers from landing on your roof and igniting a fire.
By following these tips, you can help fire proof your home and property against the devastating effects of forest fires. Remember, preventing fires is everyone’s responsibility, so do your part in keeping your community safe from wildfires.
The City of Ashland, OR, provides an excellent visual to use as a guide.
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