Fire Resistant Landscapes
Principles & Practices
Plant materials are the living vegetation in your landscape, both native and introduced. The term "firewise" or " fire resistant" plant materials indicate plants that are less flammable than others. In the figure below you will see different types of plants and where they rank on a more to less fire resistance spectrum.
All plants will burn if conditions are right. Plant condition is more important than species. Depending on growth form and access to water and nutrients, the same species may be slow to ignite in one environment and highly combustible in another.
- have a higher moisture content in their leaves
- have little seasonal buildup of dead vegetation
- have low, compact growth form
- are high in soap or pectin content
- have green stems
- are drought tolerant
Less fire resistant plants typically share one or more of the following characteristics. They often:
- are water-stressed
- accumulate fine, twiggy, dry, or dead material
- are evergreen
- have stiff, leathery, small, or fine, lacy leaves
- have loose or papery bark
- will flame (not smolder) when preheated and ignited with a match
- retain low-growing branches even as they become shaded
Many fire resistant plant material lists are available on the Internet as well as from fire-focused agencies and organizations. No list is all-inclusive. Use the characteristics of fire resistant plant materials, along with site characteristics such as slope, aspect, hardiness zone and amount of precipitation, to choose plant materials suitable for your landscape.
Fire resistant plants cover the gamut from bulbs to succulents, trees and shrubs. If there is a plant in your landscape that is highly flammable that you are fond of, there is often a fire resistant plant that is similar in shape and color that you can use to replace it with.
Slideshow of fire resistant plants suitable for the Inland West.
(Use the i button to turn-on and read the captions.)