Weed abatement is an essential element in fire prevention. Understanding the basics of fire safety as it relates to property management is essential for homeowners and businesses. Many local government authorities have issued guidelines for managing weed abatement and reducing the risk of wildfires. Here are some of the most important points to keep in mind when planning weed abatement activities this year.

Keep Vegetation Away From Buildings

Minimum fire safety standards have been established that require that property owners keep flammable vegetation at least 30 feet away from structures and buildings. This includes dead weeds, dead ornamental vegetation and brush cover. On slopes, this perimeter may be increased to 100 feet of clearance on all sides of the structure.

These precautions are necessary to prevent fires from spreading to buildings and causing serious property damage if they should occur in your area. By maintaining your vegetation carefully and removing any dead plants and trees promptly, you can protect your structures more effectively against the devastating effects of wildfires.

Keep Grass, Weeds and Ornamental Plants Clipped

Fire safety guidelines also require that all weeds and other ground cover must be maintained at a height of six inches or lower. This goes into effect on April 15 of each year and is designed to reduce the amount of fuel for wildfires and to promote the safest environment for residents and business owners in California. The hard deadline for this property maintenance may vary depending on the weather conditions and the amount of growth for vegetation in many counties.

The guidelines also recommend keeping grass and weeds clipped to six inches of less around roadways, driveways and other access routes. This will typically reduce the risks to drivers trying to escape the areas affected by wildfires and will allow emergency equipment to travel to the scene in greater safety. By maintaining your property by mowing or trimming regularly, you will help to control the risk of wildfires in your area.

Clean Your Gutters

Another piece of the puzzle for fire safety management is gutter cleaning. Removing leaves, pine needles and other debris from the gutters of your home or business will take away this source of fuel for wildfires and will provide some protection for your property against the effects of these devastating events. Regular gutter cleaning is a must to ensure the highest degree of fire safety for your home or business.

Choose Fire-Resistant Trees and Shrubbery

According to a fire safety standards brochure distributed by the Santa Clara County Department of Agriculture and Environmental Management, these trees shrubs and groundcover choices are fire-resistant and preferred for use in areas at risk for wildfires:

  • Trees to consider include Brazilian and California pepper and African sumac.
  • Some of the most fire-resistant shrubs recommended for several California counties include Italian buckthorn, lemonade berry, Texas privet, Carmel creeper, Carolina and Catalina cherry and bearberry plants.
  • Australian daisy, morning glory bush, candytuft, ivy, capeweed and ice plant are among the most fire-resistant options for groundcover.

Your local landscaping company can provide you with added information on the most appropriate trees, shrubs and other plants to round out your landscaping and to provide added protection against wildfires.


Your woodpile should be kept at least 30 feet from your home or business and any other outdoor structures. This is also true for yard waste that has been bagged or stacked neatly. While these items are still allowed during the high-risk period for fires, they must be kept away from buildings.

Property Size Matters

Local authorities have established guidelines for managing properties of various sizes for fire protection purposes:

  • Properties of one acre or less will be completely in compliance with all weed control and management guidelines. This means that no weeds over six inches high should be allowed on any part of these properties during the risk period for wildfires starting April 15.
  • Property parcels from one to five acres require at least 30 feet of clearance between any buildings, structures or roadways and weeds or dry vegetation. Depending on the configuration of the property and the risk of wildfire, you may also be required to implement 30-foot firebreaks or cross breaks that are free of vegetation to slow the spread of fires should they occur.
  • If your property consists of five acres or more, you will be required to install 30-foot firebreaks in addition to the 30-foot clearance requirements for buildings, outbuildings and roads. These firebreaks will be deployed so that they separate your property into areas of five acres or less to prevent the spread of fires across a wider area.

In many cases, consulting with a landscaping company can provide added information on the best ways to manage fire safety issues while ensuring the greatest degree of curb appeal for your California business or home.

Clear the Decks

The fire safety regulations for many of the surrounding areas prohibit the accumulation of trash, dead weeds and vegetation and wood on residential and commercial properties. While woodpiles, compost heaps and other neatly arranged piles are permissible, keeping your property free of dead vegetation and other combustible materials is critical to promote fire safety in our area.

Trim Your Trees

Fire safety guidelines also require that tree branches must be trimmed back to at least 10 feet from chimneys. This will prevent the wood of the tree from accidentally igniting and potentially starting a wildfire. Working with a company that specializes in landscaping and tree trimming services can provide an added level of protection for homes and businesses.

Know the Zones

Creating defensible space zones is the best way to protect homes and businesses from the risk of wildfire. There are three primary zones to consider:

  • Zone 0 is the Ignition Resistant Zone. It extends five feet from the structures on your property. Combustible weeds, plants and other vegetation must be kept entirely out of this zone by pruning them or removing them entirely. Additionally, doormats should not be used during fire season.
  • Depending on the county in which you live, Zone 1 extends for 30 feet or 50 feet from structures on your property. San Diego County requires that Zone 1 extend for 50 feet; most other areas require a 30-foot perimeter. Trees in this zone should be trimmed to keep branches at least 10 feet away from other trees. All combustible vegetation like dry leaves, dead weeds and pine needles must be removed from this zone.
  • Zone 2 consists of a 100-foot perimeter around your home or business. In this zone, you should keep grass clipped to four inches or less and maintain your property to reduce the chance of fire spreading in these areas.

Keeping these zones in mind will help you to stay safer throughout the peak wildfire season and beyond throughout the state of California.

If you live in the Santa Clara, Monterey, San Benito or Santa Cruz County area, and you’d like to learn about K & D Landscaping’s weed abatement services, please call 831-728-4018 or visit our Contact Page.