Nearly every state has experienced fires that rage out of control in the landscape. While the largest and most devastating burn in the West, fires also spread in the East and South.
Protect your property in two ways:
- Design and maintain a landscape that discourages fires.
- Build with flame-resistant materials.
“Fires need fuel, such as dead trees, shrubs, and grasses,” says Tchukki Andersen, BCMA, CTSP* and staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). “While no landscape is fireproof, there are steps you can take to reduce the danger.”
Tips to combat wildfires:
- If you are in a wildfire-prone area, reduce the amount of potential fuel around your home. Provide enough tree- and shrub-free space between your home and the undeveloped land. This helps ensure that your home can survive without firefighters.
- Remove all dead branches hanging over your roof. Clear leaves, needles, and other dead vegetation on the roof or in gutters.
- If wildfires are rare but still possible, extend an area of well-irrigated vegetation 30 feet from your home on all sides. In high-hazard areas, clearance of between 50 and 100 feet or more may be necessary – especially on downhill sides of the lot.
- The lower limbs of tall shade trees should be pruned 6 feet above the ground. A professional arborist should always be contacted to remove any large broken or dead limbs high in the tree. Careful pruning preserves a tree’s appearance, enhances structural integrity, and assists in the plant’s ability to resist fire.
“As a general rule, the healthier the tree, the more likely it is to survive a fire,” explains Andersen. “In addition to pruning, a professional arborist can recommend fertilization, soil management, disease treatment, or pest control measures to promote healthy trees. Landscape design and maintenance are also important factors in a home’s survival.”
Find a professional
A professional arborist can assess your landscape and work with you in creating a safer, more fire-resistant landscape. Contact the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), a public and professional resource on trees and arboriculture since 1938. TCIA has more than 2,300 member tree care firms and affiliated companies. All tree care company members recognize stringent safety and performance standards and are required to carry liability and workers’ compensation insurance, where applicable. It has the nation’s only Accreditation program that helps consumers find tree care companies that have been inspected and accredited. Accreditation is based on: adherence to industry standards for quality and safety; maintenance of trained, professional staff; and dedication to ethics and quality in business practices.
For more information, visit www.tcia.org.
An easy way to find a tree care service provider in your area is to use the “Find a Tree Care Company” program. You can use this service by doing a ZIP Code search on www.treecaretips.org.