Proper tree maintenance is one of the key things that you can do if you live in an area prone to forest fires. Fire prevention doesn't mean cutting down every single tree on your property, but it does require annual pruning and care to ensure that the trees aren't infringing upon your safe zone. The following tips can help you create a safer environment around your home.
Tip #1: Clear Out the Deadwood
It's no surprise that dead trees, both standing and on the ground, are a fire hazard. This includes both partially dead or damaged trees, such as those that are diseased or suffering from a major wound that is causing partial die-back. In areas with high fire danger, it's better to remove these trees instead of trying to save them since any dead wood can become fuel.
Clean up after your healthy trees each year, as well. Fallen twigs, shed pine needles, and piles of leaves all provide tinder for a fire. Rake up and dispose of this deadfall annually. Make sure to remove it from the entire home environs, especially where it may collect against fences or underneath a deck.
Tip #2: Create a Buffer Zone
Although plants make your home landscape look nice, they can also fuel a fire. Plant trees and other plants far enough away so that you have a fireproof buffer between the landscape and the house. The bare minimum buffer zone should extend out to 30 feet, although larger is better. For example, California law requires a 100-foot wide buffer zone between a home and flammable landscaping. You can also use rock mulch or paving for the buffer. It's also important to regularly prune back overhanging tree branches so they aren't in the buffer zone or hanging over the house.
Tip #3: Maintain the Canopy
A healthy tree canopy is another way that you can help minimize fire danger. Schedule spring trimming to remove dead and damaged branches from your otherwise healthy trees, along with any interior branches that are crossed and rubbing. It's also a good idea to have tree branches trimmed back so they are not touching any nearby trees or structures on the property. Leaving a space between the trees can prevent embers from traveling quickly from one tree to the next in the event of a fire.
The height of the tree canopy can also increase safety. A quick-moving brush fire may not burn hot enough to ignite a thick tree trunk, but it can ignite low-hanging branches. Pruning your trees so that the canopy is higher and there are no branches near the ground can create a safer landscape. For more advice, talk to a professional like those at All Season Tree Service.