Don’t Fuel The Fire, Pro­tect Your Prop­erty

The Oakdale Leader - - LIVING -

Nearly every state has ex­pe­ri­enced fires that rage out of con­trol in the landscape. While the largest and most dev­as­tat­ing burn in the West, fires also spread in the East and South, where sub­urb meets coun­try or hous­ing de­vel­op­ment meets con­ser­va­tion land.

Home­own­ers can pro­tect their prop­er­ties in two ways: de­sign and main­tain a landscape that dis­cour­ages fires; and build with flame-re­sis­tant ma­te­ri­als.

“Fires need fuel, such as dead trees, shrubs and grasses,” said Tchukki An­der­sen, a staff ar­borist with the Tree Care In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion (TCIA). “While no landscape is fire­proof, there are steps you can take to re­duce the dan­ger.”

TCIA of­fers th­ese tips for your landscape to com­bat wild­fires:

If you are in a wild­fire­prone area, re­duce the amount of po­ten­tial fuel around your home. Pro­vide enough tree- and shrub-free space be­tween your home and the un­de­vel­oped land to help en­sure that your home can sur­vive with­out fire­fight­ers.

All dead branches that hang over your roof should be re­moved. Leaves, nee­dles and other dead vege­ta­tion should not be al­lowed to build up on the roof or in gut­ters.

In parts of the coun­try where wild­fires are rare but still pos­si­ble, an area of well-ir­ri­gated vege­ta­tion should ex­tend at least 30 feet from your home on all sides. In high-haz­ard ar­eas, a clear­ance of be­tween 50 and 100 feet or more may be nec­es­sary – es­pe­cially on down­hill sides of the lot.

Fur­ther from the house, in­stall low-grow­ing shrubs. When plant­ing trees, space them no closer than 10 feet apart. Be­yond 100 feet from the house, dead wood and older trees should be re­moved or thinned by qual­i­fied pro­fes­sion­als.

The lower limbs of tall shade trees should be pruned six feet above the ground. A pro­fes­sional ar­borist should al­ways be con­tacted to re­move any large bro­ken or dead limbs high in the tree. Care­ful prun­ing pre­serves a tree’s ap­pear­ance, en­hances struc­tural in­tegrity and as­sists in the plant’s abil­ity to re­sist fire.

“As a gen­eral rule, the health­ier the tree, the more likely it is to sur­vive a fire,” ex­plained An­der­sen. “In ad­di­tion to prun­ing, a pro­fes­sional ar­borist can rec­om­mend fer­til­iza­tion, soil man­age­ment, dis­ease treat­ment or pest con­trol mea­sures to pro­mote healthy trees. Landscape de­sign and main­te­nance are also im­por­tant fac­tors in a home’s sur­vival.”

A pro­fes­sional ar­borist can as­sess your landscape and work with you to de­ter­mine the best care for your trees. Con­tact the Tree Care In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion, a public and pro­fes­sional re­source on trees and ar­bori­cul­ture since 1938. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.tcia.org or www.treecaretips.org.

An easy way to find a tree care ser­vice provider in your area is to use the “Lo­cate Your Lo­cal TCIA Mem­ber Com­pa­nies” pro­gram. You can use this ser­vice by call­ing 1-800-733-2622 or by do­ing a Zip Code search on www.treecaretips.org.

The Tree Care In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion has the na­tion’s only ac­cred­i­ta­tion pro­gram that helps con­sumers find tree care com­pa­nies that have been in­spected and ac­cred­ited.

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