Fire in California
University of California
Fire in California

Landscape Restoration

Restoring landscapes after wildfire depends on the severity of damage and time of year.  A timely and proactive response to wildfire will prevent further damage and accelerate the recovery of your home landscapes.

Soil Erosion

The most damaging long-term impact to ecosystems after wildfire is soil erosion. Erosion robs land of its soil and its ability to grow. Look for these key indicators of increased risk:

  • Exposed bare mineral soil
  • No vegetative cover to intercept rainfall
  • Severely burned soil that repels water
  • Steep slopes
  • Heavy rain forecast
  • Land located downslope of other burned areas

If you find your property experiencing one of more of these issues, learn how to mitigate against erosion here.

Tree and Plant Survival

Depending on the severity of damage, many tree species can withstand and even recover from the effects of fire. To understand the extent of damage, assess these key indicators of fire damage:

  • Leaf or needle scorch
  • Root damage
  • Trunk or branch damage
  • Inner tissue (cambium) injury

For native Californian trees, please review these guidelines on assessing tree damage.

For non-woody vegetation, many species may retain a healthy root system even when their leaves and branches are consumed by fire.  Many native plant communities are adapted to fire using this mechanism. 

For more information, review the publication below on "Taking care of Residential Trees After Fire" to improve their chances of recovery.

Controlling Invasive Plants

After fire, the first instinct is often to go out and revegetate the area as quickly as possible.  This is not advised.

Natural recovery will often happen within the first few years after a wildfire. Furthermore, Seed Bombs and Guerilla Gardening often introduce invasive species into your landscape, which can increase overall fire risk.

Fire Safe Landscaping

Using native plants in restoration efforts can accelerate the re-establishment of a natural ecosystem, but it is more important to maintain the recovering vegetation to be fire safe. Many plant species resprout quickly after fire, leading to heightened fuel conditions compared to before the fire.

Follow our fire-safe landscaping guide for suggestions on native species and landscape designs to meet your needs: Fire Safe Landscaping

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