Protect your cabin, cottage or camp from wildfires with these landscaping tips
Published: April 11, 2013
In our May 2013 issue, the article "Be Fire Wise," we outlined tips for protecting your cabin, cottage or camp from wildfires. Another thing you can do is include fire-resistant plants in your cabin landscape. This article has more information.
CHART – Fire-resistant plants suitable for shoreline buffers (click to enlarge)
So what is a fire-resistant plant? It is a plant that
possesses several characteristics that make it less likely to ignite, including foliage and stems that retain moisture,
such as hosta.
Other plants, like juniper, are not fire-resistant because they retain dead leaves or needles, which can serve as
ignition points or intensify a fire. Some plants and trees, like conifers, contain resins; they
can ignite even when green, producing intense flames and heat.
leaves are a common fuel threat for wildfires. Keep oak – as well as other
leaves, needles, and plant debris – from collecting around foundations of
structures and under decks.
When it comes to fire-resistant landscaping, the
location of your plants is as critical as the species you select.
Spacing between trees and shrubs is important so that the fire cannot
jump from a plant to a structure, or from one plant to another – and
then to your home. Spacing depends on the species. And remember: the
distance between two plants decreases as the plants grow larger. Space
plants according to their mature size, not their size at planting.
Here are some examples of fire-resistant plants:
NINEBARK - Courtesy Prairie Moon Nursery, www.prairiemoon.com.
Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)
is a common native shrub whose clusters of spring white flowers provide
an excellent source of nectar. The red fruits of this plant are eaten
by many bird species in autumn.
Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
perennial ground cover has shiny dark green leaves hat turn red with
the advent of cold weather. Wintergreen has small, bell-shaped
pink/white flowers from June to August, followed by red berries in the
fall. Sometimes the berries persist through winter. The creeping,
underground stems of wintergreen form small colonies of plants.
WILD GERANIUM - Courtesy Prairie Moon Nursery, www.prairiemoon.com.
plant blooms from April to July. The pollen and nectar of its flowers
attract small butterflies, and a variety of bee species and other
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
popular ground cover produces clusters of small-,white-to-pink,
urn-shaped flowers that bloom from May to June. The plant gets its name
from ist grape-like fruit. Bright red to pink fruit persist on the plant
into early winter. It is eaten by a few species of songbirds and game
Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago)
is a common, native shrub. Its flowers are white in May; its fruit
changes from blue to black in the fall. It is known for its vivid
combination of orange and red fall colors. Nannyberry tolerates the
shade very well; its fruit is sweet and is eaten by a variety of birds
COLUMBINE - Courtesy Prairie Moon Nursery, www.prairiemoon.com.
plant is an early bloomer, showing flowers from March to July and
setting its fruit in mid-to-late summer. Hummingbirds, hawk moths, and
at least four species of bees pollinate this pretty and delicate flower.
Moss phlox (Phlox subulata)
evergreen mats of needle-like foliage are covered by masses of flowers
in various shades of purple, pink, or white. This perennial blooms from
March until June. It works wonderfully in rock gardens.
To get a fire-resistant plant list for your state, visit the Firewise Communities Program site.