Gardening for Fire Safety

Fire-safe landscaping is critical if you live among chaparral, woodland, or forest areas.

Remember to keep 100 feet of defensible space from your buildings. Check this website for more information:

  • Maintain a minimum 100 foot "defensible space" around your home. In the first 30 feet create an area that is "Lean, Green and Clean." Clear dead leaves and branches and leave widely spaced ornamental shrubbery and trees. Trees should be 30 feet from houses with branches maintaining a 10 feet clearance to chimneys and roofs. Single specimens of trees, ornamental shrubbery or other fire resistive plants used as ground cover are exempt, provided they do not form a means of rapidly transmitting fire from native growth to any structure. Form 30-100 feet create a 'Fuel Reduction Zone.' Thin out trees and provide clearance. Limbs up trees and keep ground fuels cut below 6 inches. Shrubs should be kept small.

  • Trim tree limbs that are within 10 feet of chimney and/or stove pipes.

  • 'Limb up' your trees to maintain clearance from the ground vegetation to the bottom branches to reduce ladder fuel.

  • Clear flammable vegetation and 'Limb up' trees within 10 feet of road to reduce fire spread and provide a safer escape route.

For local information on fire safe gardens:

Living with Fire in Santa Cruz County: a guide for homeowners

Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County