Firewise Practices for Home Landscapes – Sonoma County Master Gardener Workshops

Firewise landscaping practices Sonoma County

The New Normal

In October 2017, Sonoma County faced the most destructive firestorm in California history with loss of life, property, and precious belongings. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) predicts that devastating fires will continue to be large, intense, and equally damaging. This will become the new normal. Because of increasing fire risks and diminishing fire-fighting resources, property owners, neighborhoods, and communities must take all necessary steps to protect themselves and their property from the destructive power of fire.

Since the October 2017 firestorms, the University of California Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County (UCMGSC) has worked to develop a series of recommended actions property owners can take to create more fire-resistant landscapes and properties.

On September 22nd at the Finley Center in Santa Rosa and again on October 6that the Sonoma Community Center from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM, the Sonoma County Master Gardeners will host half-day workshops on “Firewise Practices for Home Landscapes”. These workshops are FREE of charge to all, but space is limited and preregistration is required at http://ucanr.edu/2018mgworkshops. Refreshments will be available. Sonoma County First District Supervisor, Susan Gorin and City of Sonoma Honorable Mayor, Madolyn Agrimonti, will welcome the attendees at the Sonoma event.

To guide its work, UCMGSC adopted the following definition for “Firewise Landscaping” modeled after the South California UC Cooperative Extension definition after their devastating fires:

Firewise Landscaping supports creating and maintaining firewise and sustainable landscapes in the wildland-urban interface. A firewise landscape is an environment where plants and hardscapes are maintained so that they do not easily transmit fire and where a defensible space reduces the risk of fire burning on your property. 

The theme of the discussion will be “The New Normal”. Speakers Mimi EnrightLinda KingMary Lou Milkoff, Leslie Hart and Karen Guma from the University of California Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County will discuss methods for creating defensible space, utilizing sustainable home landscaping principles and good practices such as plant placement and maintenance, building healthy soils, and using hardscaping and appropriate mulches.

Attendees will learn how creating a defensible space around their homes, as well as using best management and maintenance practices, make the work of the firefighters an easier task with a more predictable, successful outcome.

In addition, the UCMGSC team has developed a series of handouts which will be available at the workshops on important firewise landscape topics, including “Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Home from Wildfire”“Firewise Yard Maintenance”, and “Red Flag Warning Days.”  The UCMGSC team also established the following web page on the UCMGSC website for important firewise information for homeowners:   http://sonomamg.ucanr.edu/Firewise_Landscaping/.

UCMGSC also has partnered with the Sonoma County Water AgencyCity of Santa RosaHabitat Corridor Project, and Santa Rosa Junior College to develop a series of sustainable and firewise front-yard landscape designs that will be installed as demonstration gardens on the SRJC campus.

Please join the Sonoma County Master Gardeners in learning how to create a more firewise and sustainable home landscape.

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