Experts discuss plants that can help protect homes from fire

Posted at 4:16 PM, Jun 06, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- When it comes to wildfires, some landscaping could make a difference in saving your home.

With the large wildfires Utah has seen in the past there have been homes burnt to the ground just a few yards from homes untouched by the flames, and fire officials said often times it’s not a matter of luck, but a matter of defensible space and the types of plants surrounding a home.

“Homes with more defensible space, those houses have a better chance of not having the fire get to them and not burning,” said Jasen Asay of the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

Fire officials are always urging Utahns to make sure they have trees, shrubs and plants trimmed back from structures to ensure a fighting chance for homes in case of a wildfire. So FOX 13 News headed to the Wasatch Shadows Nursery in Sandy to learn where the plants should be around your home and which should be planted.

Coleen Paderewski has taught a class on fire retardant plants.

“Things like stone crops, sedums, ice plants, and there’s quite a variety and as you can see they’re quite beautiful most all of these do have blossoms on them,” Paderewski said.

No plant is completely fire resistant, but succulents and cactus are slower to burn due to the moisture they maintain.

“Even the honey suckle, plants that contain more water are less resistant to having fire issues,” Paderewski said.

Utah is known for its native oak, pine and firs, but these trees can be very flammable and need to be maintained regularly.

If the plants and trees are far enough back from a home they don’t pose a threat, which is why defensible space is something to remember when landscaping around your home.

“You’re going to want to make a clearance of at least 10 to 15 feet around the area so that if you have crops or shrubs or grass around your area you need to make sure those are kept clear and maintained,” Paderewski said.

Recommended fire retardant plants
Ice plant
Stone crop
Soap wart

Fire Resistant Shrubs

The trees listed above and Evergreen sumacs (Rhus)
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)
Oleander (Nerium oleander)

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