Defensible space is the area between a house and an oncoming wildland fire where the vegetation has been modified to reduce the wildfire threat and provides an opportunity for firefighters to safely defend the house. It is a key area which can make the difference between a house surviving a wildland fire or being destroyed.

You can modify fire intensity and behavior through landscaping plans that include patterns of fire resistant vegetation and safe zones created by stone walls, patios, swimming pools, decks and driveway or roadway areas.

Many of the native plants that grow naturally in your area are highly flammable during the summer and can accelerate the spread of a fire, causing it to move through your neighborhood and ignite your home. Removing flammable native vegetation and replacing it with low-growing, fire resistive plants is one of the easiest and most effective ways to help protect your home and begin design of a defensible space.

When planning for your landscape, establish islands of plants or plant groups which effectively break up continuity of vegetation. This can assist in modification of fire behavior and slow the spread of fire through your property to your home.

Select landscape vegetation based on fire resistance and ease of maintenance, as well as visual enhancement of your home and property. There are no fireproof plant species, so choice of plants, spacing and maintenance are crucial elements in any defensible space landscaping plan and when replacing natural vegetation. However, some plants are much less likely to burn than others. In general, plants which are green and well irrigated burn slowly when ignited. Generally, fire resistant plants:

  • grow close to the ground
  • have a low sap or resin content
  • grow without accumulating dead branches, needles or leaves
  • are easily maintained and pruned
  • are, in many cases, drought-tolerant

Landscape maintenance is a key element in overall good defensible space programs for homes in wildland areas. All vegetation, including naturally occurring native plants and introduced species utilized in residential landscape plans, is a potential fuel to feed a fire. The type, amount, and arrangement of vegetation available for burning have a dramatic effect on fire behavior. If vegetation is properly modified, a fire can be slowed down, the length of the flames shortened, and the amount of heat reduced, all of which contribute to the survival of a house in a wildfire.

  • Remove dead vegetation from property
  • Remove pine needles and other debris from roof and rain gutters
  • Trim or remove tree limbs encroaching on power lines
  • Remove dead tree limbs over-hanging your roof and any limbs within 15 feet of your chimney
  • Remove brush up to at least 30 feet from structures

Fire-resistant plants carried by Moana Nursery

African Daisy
Agave
Ash
Aspen
Barberry
Beech
Birch
Black-eyed Susan
Blanket Flower
Burning Bush
Butterfly Bush
Carpet Bugle (Ajuga)
Catmint
Cherry
Cinquefoil
Coneflower
Coreopsis
Cotoneaster
Crabapple
Daylily
Dianthus
Dogwood
Dusty Miller
Forsythia
Geranium
Gingko
Hen and Chicks
Honeysuckle
Hosta
Hydrangea
Ice Plant
Iris
Ivy
Lavender
Lilac
Lily-of-the-Valley
Lupine
Maple
Oak
Peach
Penstemon
Potentilla
Primrose
Pyracantha
Redtwig Dogwood
Rhododendron
Sedum
Shasta Daisy
Spiraea
Sumac
Thrift
Thyme
Verbena
Wintercreeper
Yarrow
Yellowtwig Dogwood
Yucca

Information provided by the Nevada Division of Forestry

For more information on wildfire protection, visit Moana Nursery or contact the Nevada Division of Forestry: 775-684-2500

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