Landscaper / Contractor information

FireWise Minnesota

As more people move beyond the suburbs into the wildland-urban interface, where homes are near large natural areas, they put their homes where fire has historically shaped the landscape. These wildfires were an essential part of the natural system. When houses are developed in or near these areas, homeowners are putting their homes at risk of loss from wildfires.

Landscaping, design, and construction add beauty, value, and functionality to a property. It can also increase or reduce the chance of the structures on the property surviving a wildfire.

Below, you’ll find tips for integrating Firewise materials and designs into your landscape design as a landscaping professional and opportunities for additional business through reducing wildfire risk on a client's property.

Create defensible space

Get started by reviewing Firewise Landscaping: A guide to protecting your home from wildfire. This guide provides information on appropriate landscaping techniques, what and where wildfire risks are, and how to manage a property to minimize wildfire risk.

Projects are often separated by their distance from the main structure. These three defensible zones include immediate (0-5 feet), intermediate (5-20 feet), and extended (30-100 feet) zones. Landscapers and contractors can use these zones to help plan construction, remediation, or maintenance projects.

Check out different projects that create defensible space.

Use Firewise plants

There are no truly "fireproof" plants. Under the right conditions, all plants will burn. Those less susceptible to burning are called Firewise Plants. Firewise Plants have the following characteristics:

  • Contain more moisture in their tissues, especially in spring and fall.
  • Are low in volatile oils (most evergreens have high volatile oil sap).
  • Accumulate less fuel by producing less litter or by staying small.
  • Are compact and low to the ground.
  • Grow slowly, needing little maintenance, such as pruning.
  • They have low water needs—when in drought, these plants often drop leaves, have smaller leaves, or are succulent leaves that store moisture.

Deciduous plants have more Firewise characteristics than evergreens. Also, when dormant, especially during Minnesota's spring fire season, deciduous plants have less fuel to carry a fire.

Plant a variety of native plants to help maintain vigor and health. Monotypes and exotics result in more insect and disease problems, resulting in more dead branches and plants, which are more fire-prone—mulch to reduce weed growth and conserve moisture. Avoid pine or cedar bark, pine needle mulch, or other materials that quickly catch fire.

To learn more about Firewise landscaping techniques, check out Firewise landscaping: A guide to protecting your home from wildfire.

Prescribed burning

Prescribed burning can be a great tool for reducing wildfire risk and providing a number of other benefits, such as wildlife habitat and plant restoration. However, it often requires a permit and requires extensive planning and consideration.

Business opportunities

Whether you are a landscape architect or a yard service, there are opportunities to increase your revenue while providing a valuable service to your clients. As a designer, look for opportunities to implement Firewise landscaping in the overall design. Highlight Firewise landscaping as a special feature of your design to protect the home your client so highly values while adding beauty and functionality to the property. As a yard maintenance professional, use the Firewise landscaping tips to identify fire-prone situations on your client's property. Offer to mitigate these situations as an additional service.

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