Firewise Planning and Landscape Design

Water Conservation for Lawn and Landscape, Drought Resources November 10, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

Wildfire burning into urban setting.


‘Firewise’ planning, landscape design, and maintenance is important in areas where fires frequently occur. Homes built on the wildland / urban interface are particularly susceptible to the destructive effects of wild fire.

Proper design firewise planning and design includes creating several landscape zones to create a defensible space around buildings and other structures. 

FileFirewise Landscaping Part 1: Overview









FileFirewise Landscaping Part 2: Design and Installation

Firewise Landscaping. Part 1: Overview  

Firewise Landscaping Part 2: Design and Installation

FileFirewise Landscaping Part 3: Maintenance


FileFirewise Foundation Plantings

Firewise Landscaping Part 3: Maintenance

  Firewise Foundation Plantings (Oklahoma)

4 basic zones are recommended for creating and planning a firewise landscape design:

Zone 1

  • Provide at least a 30’ buffer where tall plants are not grown on all sides of buildings and other structures
  • Mow tall dry grass
  • Provide enough space for fire suppression equipment to access the entire site
  • Use fire resistant plant species
  • Use proper irrigation close to building and structures

Zone 2

  • Use low growing fire resistant plant species
  • Use irrigation in this zone

Zone 3

  • Plant low growing fire resistant plants
  • Properly place trees away from structure and space them far apart
  • Fuel load (vegetation volume) should be low

Zone 4

  • Furthest zone from the building structure
  • Use natural plantings
  • Thin out highly flammable species

Although using fire resistant plants is important, appropriate planning and design is a large part of fire prevention.


Additional Resources:

Firewise Landscaping videos
Firescaping - Landscape Design for Wildfire Defensible/Survivable Space
Extension Disaster Education Network - Fire (Wildfire)
Wildfires - Utah State University Extension


Colorado - FireWise Plant Materials
Idaho - (Facebook)     
Firewise Plants for Utah Landscapes     
Forest Fire
Fire Safety/Wildland Urban Interface
Selecting Firewise Plants


Great Plains - Firescape - Firewise Landscape Design


Florida-Fire in the Wildland-Urban Interface: Selecting and Maintaining Firewise Plants for Landscaping
Guide for Homeowners in the Southern United States


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.