Defensible space is the area around your home in which vegetation, debris, and other combustible fuels have been removed to slow the spread of fire to and from your home. Creating defensible space can better protect your home from igniting due to direct flame contact and radiant heat. Defensible space is essential to help protect a structure and create a safer area for firefighters during a WUI fire. You should create defensible space by removing weeds, brush, and firewood, and by spacing out vegetation around your property. While this may seem like a daunting task, the RSG program has separated the defensible space around your home into three zones. Zone 1 is the 0 to 5 feet of space around your home or to your property line. Zone 2 is the 5 to 30 feet around your home or to your property line. Zone 3 is the 30 to 200 feet around your home or to your property line. Follow the considerations below for each zone that applies to your property. Your home will become safer with each step.
Use hard scape such as concrete or noncombustible rock mulch around your home.
Create vegetation groups or islands to break up continuous fuels around your home.
Create and maintain a minimum of 10 feet between the tops of trees.
Clean roofs and gutters of dead leaves, debris, and pine needles.
Remove ladder fuels to create a separation between low-level vegetation and tree canopies to keep fire from climbing trees. See the section on tree pruning below for more information.
Safely remove ladder fuels up to a height of 10 feet, while retaining at least 75 percent of the foliage, to create separation between the ground and tree branches. This keeps fire from climbing into the tree canopies.
Store firewood and other combustible materials away from your home, garage, or attached deck.
Remove leaf and needle debris from the yard.
Store firewood in this area, keeping it a safe distance from your home.
Prune away touching or over-hanging branches from the roof to a distance of at least 10 feet. See the section on tree pruning below for more information.
Keep lawns, native grasses, and wildflowers less than four inches in height.
Create space between shrubs and trees to eliminate a continuous fuel bed at the ground level. See the section on tree pruning below for more information.
Replace or repair any loose or missing shingles or roof tiles to prevent ember penetration.
Store firewood and other combustible materials away from outbuildings such as a shed or barn.
Remove dead trees, shrubs, and all other dead or dry vegetation.
Rake and remove flammable vegetation, such as leaves and needles or wood mulch, from underneath your deck and away from your home.
Move trailers, recreational vehicles, storage sheds, and other combustible structures out of this zone and into Zone 3. If unable to move, create defensible space around them as if they were part of your home.
Create separation between your property and your neighbors' property. Consider that your trees may pose a greater risk to your neighbors' homes than to your own.
Use non-wood, low-growing herbaceous vegetation. Succulents, or other fire-resistant plants, are recommended choices.
While preparing each of the three zones around your property to protect against WUI fires, make sure you're following the best practices when it comes to tree pruning. This will help create space that could prevent fire from spreading from the ground to overgrown trees, and eventually to structures on your property. Proper tree pruning is also great for the health and vitality of your trees, and we suggest utilizing the 3-cut method when pruning your trees. To learn more about the 3-cut method, watch the video below.
To learn more about how to properly care for and prune your trees, visit www.arborday.org/trees/tips/. If you prefer to leave pruning your trees to the professionals, view this Tree Service Provider list of local companies who provide a variety of tree services. Finally, once you've pruned your trees, you'll likely have brush waste to dispose of. Flower Mound residents enjoy weekly, curbside brush collection from Republic Services. To learn more about that collection process, visit the Town's Bulk and Brush Collection webpage.
Other ways you can prepare before a WUI fire starts, include: