How to prepare defensible space around your home

Posted at 11:28 AM, Jul 12, 2017

(KGTV) - You hear the term a lot during San Diego's fire season: "Defensible space." 

But how exactly are you supposed to prepare your home before a fire strikes the area? It's simple but requires a bit of elbow grease on your part.

First, Cal Fire officials recommend creating two zones of defensible space around your home.

The first zone extends 30 feet from any buildings or structures. However, San Diego County requires a 50-foot area of defensible space.

For this, it's recommended that homeowners remove:

  • All dead plants, grass and weeds, or any vegetation.
  • Dead or dry leaves and pine needles from yards, roofs, and rain gutters.
  • Branches that hang over roofs. Dead branches should be kept 10 feet away from chimneys.
  • Flammable plants and shrubs near windows.
  • Vegetation and items that could catch fire from around and under decks spaces.

Homeowners should also create separation between trees, shrubs, and other items that could catch fire, such as patio furniture, wood piles, or outdoor equipment. Trees should be trimmed regularly to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees, Cal Fire says.

The second zone will extend 100 feet from any buildings or structures. In this zone, it's recommended that homeowners:

  • Cut or mow grass down to a maximum height of 4 inches.
  • Create horizontal and vertical spacing between shrubs and trees.
  • Remove fallen leaves, needles, twigs, bark, cones, and small branches.

In both zones, tree branches should be at least 6 feet from the ground or three times the height of and shrubs underneath, Cal Fire shows in diagrams online. Depending on the slope of the land, trees should be 10 to 30 feet apart, and shrubs should be two times to six times their height apart.

For landscaping, fire-resistant plants and landscaping are highly recommended. A list of fire-resistant plants can be found online here from Cal Fire.