Skip to main content



Firewise Landscaping

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.

What Does It Mean to Be Firewise?

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 20-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) 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.

Original website content and design created by Mark Hostetler, Elizabeth Swiman, and Sarah Webb Miller. With the help of UF/IFAS Communications, the current look and functionality was streamlined for the UF/IFAS Extension Solutions for Your Life website. Al Williamson of UF/IFAS Communications uploads the steaming video for each episode. Images on this website were taken prior to national guidelines of face coverings and social distancing. The site is currently maintained and updated by Tom Barnash and Mark Hostetler.