Now that summer is on the horizon, homeowners all over the country are looking forward to spending time in their backyards. However, if you've recently moved into a home featuring new construction, your backyard is still only in the fledgling stages. Even though it'll seem a bit bare at first, this is actually a positive thing because you're being provided with a blank slate on which you can create your ideal outdoor living environment.
Naturally, you'll keep personal preferences in mind as you plan your yard and garden area, but you should also prioritize fire safety as well because household fires often start in outdoor living areas during the summer months. Fortunately, strategies are available to help homeowners minimize the risk of this happening. Here are just three suggestions.
Don't Mass Plants Together
Masses of certain types of plants make a pretty picture, but they also promote the spread of fire, particularly if they're coniferous evergreens. For instance, low-growing juniper is a popular ground cover that is often massed together, but because its pitch is highly flammable, it's not a good choice for use around residential homes. Any type of plant that's massed together is a potential fire hazard, however, so consider using specimen plantings instead and leaving about six feet between each one. Mass plantings also attract rodent and insect pests, so you'll have less of these in your outdoor living environment.
Use Fire-Resistant Plants
A local landscaping company can assist you in choosing fire-resistant landscaping plants. As a general rule of thumb, deciduous hardwood trees pose less of a fire danger than their coniferous evergreen counterparts, and succulents are a better choice than herbaceous perennials because they retain significant amounts of water. Keep in mind that there isn't any such thing as a completely fireproof plant—the purpose of using fire-resistant plants in your landscaping is to slow down the spread of fire, providing homeowners and emergency responders alike with more time.
Rethink the Lawn
Few things are nicer than a warm summer day than the feeling of velvety soft green grass under bare feet, but busy homeowners often don't have the time necessary to maintain a lawn, and few things spread fire more quickly than dried-out lawn grass. Also, keep in mind that many communities are beginning to ration water usage during the summer, and even if you have the time to water your lawn, you may not be able to. A lawn alternative such as a rock garden provides natural firebreaks.