The three R's of defensible space

5 The three R’s of defensible space landscaping

Example of a green zone with form and function.
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Part of any defensible space plan is vegetation management or landscaping. This will likely mean altering your existing landscape by removal, thinning, pruning and perhaps replanting. The goal is to grow your landscape into a more desirable level of fire safety and to ultimately reduce the need for annual maintenance.

Defensible space can enhance the natural landscape.
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This doesn’t have to happen all at the same time. The goal is to develop a landscape plan with fire in mind and beauty as a given. Defensible space is the true expression of form and function.

You will be surprised what a little pruning can do to open up vistas you never knew existed. Above are several examples of nicely landscaped defensible space:

The objective of defensible space is to reduce the wildfire threat to a home by changing the characteristics of the adjacent vegetation. Defensible space practices include:

    Increasing the moisture content of vegetation.

    Decreasing the amount of flammable vegetation.

    Shortening plant height.

    Altering the arrangement of plants.

    This is accomplished through the “Three R’s of Defensible Space” – REMOVAL, REDUCTION AND REPLACEMENT.

"Before” removing dangerous buildup of ladder fuels. “After” removing ladder fuels.
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Removal: This technique involves the elimination of entire plants, particularly trees and shrubs, from the site. Focus should be on pyrophytic vegetation.

"Reduction” can also beautify
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: Removal of plant parts, such as branches or leaves, constitutes reduction. Examples of reduction are pruning dead wood from a shrub, removing low tree branches, and mowing dried grass.

This is substituting less flammable plants for more hazardous vegetation. Removal of a dense stand of flammable shrubs and planting an irrigated, well-maintained flowerbed is an example of replacement. For more examples of replacement plant choices, visit Chapter 10.

"Replacement” examples.
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"Replacement” examples.
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Napa Firewise

  To empower the citizens of Napa County with the information, knowledge, and support they need to survive a wildfire.