Creating a fire-resilient landscape

Fires require fuel to spread, and any combustible materials, including vegetation, wooden fences, or sheds can serve as fuel. Once ignited, these materials can create a direct fire path toward a house. There can be both horizontal and vertical paths. Grass or mulch can provide horizontal continuity between shrubs or other combustible materials, increasing their likelihood of ignition. On the other hand, once the fire “climbs up” from the ground, for example from grass igniting a fence, or from a fence to an eave, it can reach a building by using this vertical path. The risk of fire spreading to your house can be significantly reduced by removing these potential fire paths, for example by increasing the spacing between vegetation and removing “ladder fuels” (combustible materials creating a vertical path). Embers can directly land near the house or fall from the roof, creating additional fire paths in the immediate surroundings.


Creating a defensible space involves managing the landscape around buildings (houses, sheds, detached garages, etc.) to prevent fires and embers from igniting them. Proper placement and maintenance of vegetation and combustible materials are key components to have both a beautiful landscape and a home that is more resilient to wildfires. Work from the house outward to make sure the structure itself is hardened against fire, then develop and implement a three-zone strategy whereby the highest priorities and most restrictive measures are incorporated in the area closest to the home or other building of interest.