Tips for Fire Proofing Your Home’s Exterior

Sara Ysunza, Grab N’ Grow, Soils Plus & Stony Point Rock Quarry

After last October’s devastating firestorm many of us are left thinking about how to prevent such an event from happening again. We all hope that we never have to experience something as horrifying as what we went through whether we suffered losses or not. While it’s impossible to fully fireproof your exterior spaces, here are some tips to make sure your home is as fire resistant as possible.

Clean Your Gutters

It has been reported that much of the fire was spread from house to house because of leaves & debris left in gutters. It is important to clean out your gutters at least twice a year. This will not only protect your home from catching fire from floating embers, but will help prevent water from penetrating your foundation. Working gutters direct rain away from your home and safely into storm drains rather than flowing under your house and causing damage.

Prune Your Vegetation

Dry dead grasses and trees are fire tinder waiting to happen. The area around your home, at least 100 feet in diameter, needs to be cut short or green and watered. Some of the most striking images that have surfaced from the fires are the homes that are surrounded by lush green plants and remain untouched. Keeping water conservation in mind, another way to accomplish this is to keep the area surrounding your home mowed down at a maximum of 4 inches, especially in the late summer. Walk your property, no matter how large or small, and prune out dead branches and overgrown shrubbery. Cut back any tree branches that extend over your roof & branches that are within 6 feet of the ground. Rake up needles, leaves & plant debris and dispose of it immediately in your yard waste bin or at a recycling center.

Use Native Plants

Fires are not a new phenomenon in California. They have been raging across our landscape long before we settled here and our native plant species have survived – and thrived – because of it. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection trees like Madrone & Coast Live Oaks are recommended, and ground covers such as White Yarrow, California Poppy, Sage & Wax Myrtle all have a low flammability rate. Drought tolerant plants are hearty and less likely to burn like California Redbud, California Fuchsia & Ornamental Strawberry. Keep in mind that all plants will eventually burn, so these plants need to be healthy, watered & pruned.

Use Aggregates for Landscaping

Using hardscape such as gravel, decomposed granite & base rock can create a fire break in your yard. Remove dry, rotted decking and replace it with a permeable stone patio or inexpensive gravel. Weaving flame resistant pathways through your landscaping not only looks beautiful but can stop a fire in its tracks.

Pull Mulch Away From Your Home

After the drought many people removed their lawns in favor of drought tolerant landscaping. Mulch is a great way to finish off your space and helps hold moisture in the soil so less watering is needed. That said, mulch should not be laid up against your home as it can spread fire quickly. Barks or mulches should be spaced at least three feet from house foundation.  Breaking up the mulched areas by installing water efficient green belts or hardscape around the home will provide a buffer area between mulches and the house.


Following these steps will help give you peace of mind that you’ve done what you can to prevent fire from spreading to your home. The good news is that most of these items don’t cost a lot of money and your yard will look beautiful when you’re done.

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