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MASTERING YOUR GARDEN: Protecting your home against wildfires

By taking a proactive approach, you can increase your home's likelihood of survival during a wildfire event.

TEXAS, USA — The actions you take to reduce the risk on your property before a fire occurs can make all the difference. 

East Texas has been facing a drought-stricken summer and due to the lack of rainfall, there has been an increase in dry vegetation and fuel for fires to ignite.

Master Gardener Andie Rathbone said the idea is to create a fire resistant landscape to create a separation between the fuels a fire needs to continue burning.

"Firewise safety is landscaping your home so it will look beautiful but you also avoid the danger of having plants helping to catch your house on fire," Rathbone said.

According to the Smith County Master Gardeners, it's best to break up your layout into zones with fire retardant plants closer to your home.

"Zone one is the area around your house from zero to five feet," Rathbone said. "This is the area where there should be no flammable plants whatsoever."

Plants with a higher flammability include:

  • Yaupon Hollies
  • Junipers
  • Pines
  • Wax Myrtle 
  • Grasses
  • Vines

"Vines act like a ladder that allows the fire to climb up your house," Rathbone warned.

Plants with a low flammability include:

  • Oaks
  • Maples
  • Elm
  • Dogwood
  • Redbud
  • Crape Myrtle
  • Roses
  • Lilies 
  • Succulents

People may plant pine trees, evergreen shrubs, store firewood and use mulch in areas further from their home as these will help slow down a fire further in the distance.

These are the firewise landscaping zones

ZONE 1: Doorstep to 5 feet away from house

  • Nothing flammable
  • Clean gutters and roofs
  • No tall or evergreen shrubs blocking windows
  • No weeds, tall grasses
  • No firewood piles
  • No trees overhanging house
  • No vines

ZONE 2: 5 to 10 feet from house

  • Garden beds with fire retardant/fire resistant plants such as herbs, vegetables, daylilies, monkeygrass/lilirope, Turk's cap, iris, salvias and annuals.

ZONE 3: 30 to 100 feet from house

  • Pine trees, evergreen shrubs, mulch (such as pine straw or wood chips) and terracing steep areas will slow down a fire.

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