Many of the Southeast's ecosystems depend on fire for their continued existence. Fire is also used to manage forests and prevent wildfires. For those that live next to these natural communities where wildfire could spread into their yards, a few steps can be taken to create a "firewise" property.
Being firewise is living safely near a fire-dependent natural community. Use firewise principles, including landscape design and vegetation management, to protect homes.
Create defensible space
Protect your home from fire by creating and maintaining a twenty-foot open buffer around your house. Lawns and walkways create "firebreaks," which interrupt the path of a fire.
Design a firewise landscape
Consider the local fire history, site location, and overall terrain of your yard. Are you surrounded by a more urban or natural landscape? Are there other firebreaks (waterways, roads, etc.) between your yard and the natural areas nearby?
Landscape with less flammable plants, such as flowering dogwood, sycamore, beautyberry, red maple, redbud, magnolia, oak trees, sweetgum, hophornbeam, or winged elm.
Use native vegetation
Native plant species are already adapted to local fire conditions. They also have the added benefits of using less water and attracting wildlife.
Maintain your landscape (especially during times of drought)
Be sure to keep your irrigation system well maintained and free from debris. Keep trees pruned about 6 - 10 feet from the ground if they are near the house.
- Fire in Florida
- Florida Division of Forestry
- USDA Forest Service
- Southern Center for Wildland-Urban Interface for Research and Information
- Healthy Lawn Healthy Environment - US EPA (PDF)