I hope you are all working on your home’s fire hardening and improving the safety of your property. We are all too familiar with how quickly a fire can start and spread so it is important to be prepared for whatever mother nature throws at us. The conclusion of this multiple-part series will cover the outer sector of defensible space for fire-safety – Zone 2. While each of the three zones have specific instructions, they all exhort the same intention: reduce the spread of wildfire and the ability of embers to start.

I was talking with a client recently and they were having a hard time getting homeowners insurance for their property, they felt that because there are little to no trees within 100 feet of their home they are at low risk. I explained that in a wildland fire event the fire tends to spread through embers being blown around in the wind. These embers can carry in the wind for miles and be blown under decks and other flammable surfaces catching your structure on fire. So even if you don’t have a lot of trees around your house it’s still important to keep your property clean and maintained in case a fire is started nearby.

“Zone 2 extends from 30 feet to 100 feet out from buildings, structures, decks, etc. or to your property line, whichever is closer.”

Here are some ideas that you can use to harden your property in Zone 2:

  • If you have natural land on your property, it’s important to keep the grass and weed mowed down to a height of 4”. It will usually require mowing 3-4 times per season to keep the grass from becoming a hazard.
  • Create space between shrubs and brush. We don’t always want to clear cut our land, especially since that can lead to erosion issues in winter. What is better than clear cutting is carefully removing shrubs and plants so you have room in between them. If you are installing a new landscape, be sure to leave space between plants in your design.
  • Remove leaves, needles and small branches that accumulate in this area. These elements can catch fire easily by those flying embers. You can be a little less strict in Zone 2 and allow the leaves to pile to 3” before removing them. Remember, in Zone 0 & 1 you should remove leaves at least every week.
  • In previous articles I mentioned not to store your firewood in Zone 0 or 1, so where do you put it? Well, it goes in Zone 2. The best thing you can do is to clear down to bare ground 10’ in every direction of the wood pile, this will give you the best chance of extinguishing a fire if the wood pile does catch.

Fire safety has evolved into a paramount concern here in California and as conscious members of the community its our responsibility to do all that we can in the fight against flames. Preparedness and proactivity are the first steps, so take these defensible space tactics to heart and let’s help protect our homes.