Smart Landscaping Tips to Help Protect Your Property from Wildfires & Mudslides

Wildfires are now becoming year-round threats especially in California and other drought-ridden areas in the West. Here are a few hardscaping tips to help protect your property from fires.

1. Establish Fire-Safe Zones

One way to help stop fire from spreading to your home is to create barriers in your property that make it hard for the flames to spread. Clear dead branches, underbrush and leaves, and use stone walls, roadways, gravel or other hardscapes to create fire-safe zones within your yard. Consider creating at least a 4-foot hardscape perimeter around your home with pavers, gravel or decorative stone. Do not plant trees within close proximity to your home.

2. Use Fire-Resistance Plants

Select high-moisture plants that will be more resistant to fires and plants that have less resin or sap (a fire accelerant) in them. Avoid conifer trees like fir and pine, and opt for low-growing manzanita with five to six feet of clearance around it and no dead branches, cherry, poplar or maples – hardwood trees that have less sap. Choose fire-resistant bushes like, lemonade berry, yucca, woolly blue curls or other shrubs that can help decrease the spread of a wildfire. Consider planting fire-retardant succulents in place of grass as well.

Mudslides are another danger that homeowners need to protect themselves against, especially in drought-prone areas. Mudslides often happen in wildfire burn areas when severe storms drop heavy rains on slopes with no plants to soak up the water and keep the soil in place. Here are a few preventative mudslide mitigation measures homeowners can take to protect their property.

1. Plant Trees and Other Vegetation

Planting native shrubs and trees on hillsides can actually help stabilize the ground. Keep in mind that root systems take time to develop, so allow a couple years for this to be effective. Planting mature trees can help expedite the development of larger root systems.

2. Build Channels and Retaining Walls

Building channels in mudflow areas can help direct the flow of a mudslide around buildings and divert mud and debris. If your property is sloped, create retaining walls below hillsides to hold back potential slides. Use the biggest stones for the bottom and smaller stones for the top (or use solid, pinned blocks if desired).

3. Drainage and Erosion Assessment

Consider hiring an expert to conduct an assessment to evaluate your property’s drainage and state of erosion. Drainage is important to prevent flooding and landslides. Unseen erosion and unknown instabilities on your property could spell disaster. An assessment will allow you to determine any weaknesses and address them ahead of time. Engineers will be able to develop the appropriate plan to handle your needs. If you hire an outside contractor or gardener for any of the jobs, be sure that they carry their own insurance. These preparations will go a long way to mitigate the potential damage severe weather can inflict on your property.

Contact Apollo Insurance Services at 800.426.1088 for a complimentary insurance review to ensure your home is properly covered in case of a wildfire or mudslide.

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