yard with fire resistant plants

Fire-Resistant Plants | How to Create a Fire-Safe Backyard

When you’re designing your yard, choosing your landscaping, and planning your garden, wildfire always needs to be a consideration when you live in California and in other high fire-prone states. Surrounding your house with flammable plants can increase the chances of it igniting during a fire. Whether you’re planning your gardens for the first time or want to enhance your home’s defensible space and redesign your garden, choosing fire-resistant plants is the first step to protecting your house against wildfires. 

What Makes Fire-Resistant Plants Safer? 

No plants are truly fire-proof, but fire-resistant plants won’t readily ignite if they’re exposed to embers or to flames. While they can be killed in a fire, they won’t actively contribute to its fuel source, so they won’t make it larger or help it to spread. 

You can spot fire-resistant plants based on some common qualities. Most have moist, supple leaves with a high moisture content. They have little dead wood or dead material, like leaves, that get caught up within their branches. These plants have a water-like sap, which is found in minimal amounts, and they’re less flammable than highly resinous plants. Many fire-resistant plants have the added benefit of being drought-resistant, too.

Highly flammable plants lack these qualities. Instead, these plants tend to have lots of dry plant material, like twigs and needles, and those leaves and stems may contain waxes and oils that ignite easily. These plants may have gummy sap and loose, dry bark. These qualities make plants easy to ignite, and once ignited, they can fuel and help spread a fire.

Choosing Fire-Resistant Plants for Your Garden

When choosing plants for your garden, look for plants that grow close to the ground and that have minimal sap or resin. This plant list outlines popular fire-resistant options: 

  • Rockrose
  • Yellow Ice Plant
  • Yarrow
  • Cranberry cotoneaster
  • Aloe
  • Point Reyes ceanothus
  • Evening primrose
  • Penstemon
  • Eastern redbud
  • French lavender 
  • Lilac
  • Sedum or stonecrops
  • Honeylocust
  • Lamb’s ear
  • Sage
  • Wild strawberry
  • Coral bells
  • Hedging roses
  • Yucca
  • Coreopsis
  • Bush honeysuckles
  • Currant
  • Shrub apples
  • Sumac
  • Maple trees
  • Hardwood trees 
  • Poplar trees
  • Cherry trees

By selectively using fire-resistant plants, homeowners can create a fire-resistant landscape and help to protect their homes. 

Additional Ways to Improve Your Home’s Fire Resistance

Choosing the right plants is just the first step. Ensure that plants stay thoroughly watered, and frequently remove dry plant material. Prune back shrubs and bushes often, and remove dead branches and leaves promptly. It’s also important to keep your lawn mowed, which can help to maximize your defensible space. 

You can use rock gardens, stone walls, patios, decks, and more to create zones that are fire-resistant. Flower beds and rocks can serve as a ground cover and double as fire breaks. If you wish to use mulch, then use a less-flammable material like decorative rock. Traditional mulch is highly flammable, so if possible, avoid using it at all. 

Phos-Chek Fortify

Choosing the right plants for your yard is only a piece of a fully protected home. For the vegetation and surroundings that you cannot remove, however, Phos-Chek Fortify application is available. 

Phos-Chek Fortify is an environmentally-benign fire retardant that can be applied on decks, fences, and vegetation to render the material flame-resistant. It is best to apply Phos-Chek Fortify once before fire season as the product will last through two inches of heavy, consistent rainfall.  

Learn more about Phos-Chek Fortify here and reach out to schedule application here

Ember Defense 

If you want to further protect your home against wildfires, you can contact Ember Defense today. With our Home Hardening Package, we’ll evaluate your defensible space and home protection and make recommendations for ways to improve it. 

We’ll install the best wildfire defense products like Vulcan Vents, Valor Gutter Guards, and wildfire sprinklers for added layers of protection. Ember Defense can also perform a home insurance assessment to make sure that you have the coverage that you need, before you need it. 

Contact us today to schedule your evaluation.