Torrey Pines Landscape Company

Torrey Pines Landscape Company
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fire-Resistant Landscaping in San Diego

Despite this weeks current cooling trend.....
September is largely a continuation of summer weather. We can even expect a nearly blistering, warming trend with the Santa Ana winds. Water-Wise Fire Resistant Landscaping is the key to protecting your home. The goal in fire protection is to reduce the potential fuel for wildfires. Those of you who have homes next to "wild-space" or chaparral are in jeopardy because much of the native vegetation is dry and highly flammable. Homes with slopes are particularly vulnerable to soil erosion when the native vegetation is removed for fire control. Torrey Pines Landscape Co. has worked with many home owners to protect their properties with installing "fire-resistant" plantings that help control erosion without wasting water.

General Fire-Protection Landscaping Guidelines:
*Remove highly flammable native brush & vegetation
*Stabilize slope areas by planting deep rooted ground covers & adding widely space groups of shrubs and trees to maximize slope stability
*Don't use plantings with innate combustible oils that can fires to spread rapidly close to any structures
*Keep shrubs and trees thinned, well-maintained and in general away from any structures
*Use succulents and other plants with a high moisture content close to the home to create a line of defense

Zone 1
The area closest to the home. Choose low-growing plants with low fuel volume. Remove plants that would give fire a ladder to climb from the ground into a tree. Ideally there shouldn't be any tall plantings, but realistically this zone can have aesthetics in mind with plants selected with defensive in mind. What helps is hardscape. A lot of it! Brick, stone or concrete patios & walkways. Masonry seats, decorative walls and rock mulches. Shade structures and decks should be constructed of fire-resistant materials. See our portfolio at Keeping the gardens around your home well irrigated and neatly pruned is a good defensive strategy as well. Our maintenance teams also remove combustible materials like dried pine needles or leaves from the grounds. We suggest having us use gravel, pebbles or river rock as mulch instead of flammable materials. Ground Covers for this zone could include succulents - Sedums, Senicios, Crassulas, Aeoniumsor any of the various ice-plants.

Zone 2
The focus here is to reduce the fuel for a fire with low-growing ground covers that are resistant to fire which, when properly maintained, may halt a fire befor it reaches the house. Examples are some of these perennials - Fragaria chiloensis (Beach Strawberry), Ajuga reptans (Carpet Bugle), Dymondia margaretea(Mini gazania), Verbena peruviana , Salvia sonomensis(Sonoma Sage), Santolina rosmarinifolia (Green lavender Cotton) or Thymus pseudolanuginosus (Woolly Thyme)

Zone 3
This zone is the transition area between the homes garden and the wild space. A mix of low shrubs and perrenials that may be native or drought-resistant introduced. Examples are: Prunus ilicifolia (Catalina Cherry),Ceanothus thyrsiflorusrepens (Creeping Blue Blossom),Portulacaria afra (Elephant's food), Heteromeles arbutifolia (California Holly), Cistus(Rock Rose), or Carissa macrocarpa 'Green Carpet' (Natal Plum).

Zone 4
This zone refers to the existing native vegetation farthest from the house that needs to be thinned to reduce the fuel volume. Whole plants needs to be cleared away to space between these native shrubs and trees.

The closer one's home is is to wild-space, the wiser it would be to solicit help from a professional to create a fire-resisant landscape.
-'Garden Girl' at Torry Pines Landscape Co. Inc
visit us on the web at

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