Around the Firewise Home, Part 2 – Drought and Your Property

Blog Post created by luciandeaton Employee on Aug 31, 2015

In part 1 on Friday, Firewise How-To explored the effects of drought on vegetation.  In part 2, How-To explains where drought can have the most impact on your property and what you can do about it now.

Firewise HIZ 0-5ft non flamable focusWhat Can Be Done?

While regular irrigation can be a useful strategy, local water restrictions may make this difficult. If the drought is persistent, irrigation may not be sufficient to keep vegetation moisture levels up. 

In adopting Firewise practices, an initial step is to focus on the 0- to 5-feet zone around your structure and assess the risk for any vegetation within the zone that could act as a fuel and allow fire to reach your home.

This zone is the “inner sanctum” of what is referred to as the Home Ignition Zone (HIZ), which includes the area surrounding your home within the first 100 to 200 feet.  You then have two choices: The first is landscaping this area with drought-resistant plants; and the second is to remove combustible sources from this inner zone, to create an ember barrier. 

Firewise HIZ landscapingAs you move away from the home into the 5- to 30-feet zone within the HIZ, consider clumping of vegetation to permit adequate spacing, and perform “limbing-up” of trees by removing branches that are 6 to 10 feet from the ground. This can keep ground fires from reaching a tree’s lower branches where they can then climb into higher vegetation.

In this “middle ground” of the HIZ, don’t overlook grasses or think that they can’t pose as much of a fire risk as trees and forests.  Grass is considered a “one-hour fuel” because of how quickly it can lose its moisture content in dry conditions.

Be sure to keep grasses mowed, and place breaks in your landscape, such as gravel paths or a stone walkway, which can lead a grass fire to burn out before it can advance to a structure or favorite shrub or tree. Firewise landscaping grasses and shrubs 

Remember, decreasing the overall vegetation on your property in times of drought can increase the chances for the choice vegetation that remains to survive, because there will be less competition for available moisture and soil nutrients.

Take Aways

To assure the best results for your property during a drought, learn more about the recommended Firewise principles for the various regions within the Home Ignition Zone around your property, and then put them into practice.

Also consider sharing these practices with neighbors. Your collective actions can go a long way toward creating a community that is prepared to combat wildfire risk, especially when conditions make the risk of wildfire greater.

You can learn more about which plants in your area are more resistant to drought, and landscaping practices that can reduce your property’s risk from wildfire

You can also connect with your state’s forestry agency Firewise Liaison


Read previous posts in the Firewise How-To blog series.  

Photo Credits: Firewise Program