• Firewise Landscaping in the Sierra Foothills

    by  • October 23, 2010 • landscaping, Sierra Foothills

    When landscaping in a fire risk area, like the Central Sierra foothills of California, you normally have to keep a hundred foot fire safe barrier around your home.   There is quite a bit of research done concerning plants that ignite slower and burn slower.  

    First, protect your property by grooming the branches and brush 10 feet up and ten feet around your trees.  Keep enough space between ‘islands’ of shrubs in the garden so as not to allow fire to spread from  one to another. Another important thing recommended by Las Pilitas Nursery, that you can do is water your landscape every week during the summer, just enough to keep moisture in. Also, thin out  flammable bushes with dead branches and remove the dried weeds.  Native leaf litter is OK, if not infested with weeds, and around the house it’s best to use concrete patios and gravel, instead of bark paths. Metal outdoor furniture, instead of wood would be wise.

    Then you think about planting. these are some of my favorites native or Mediterranean trees and shrubs, groundcovers and perennials listed as low fire combustibility, as documented by sources below:

    Western Redbud Cercis occidentalis
    Toyon Heteromeles arbutifolia
    Manzanita Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Wood’s Compact’
    Creeping Sage Salvia sonomensis ‘Bee’s Bliss’
    California fuchsia Epilobium californica (syn. Zauschneria)
    Stonecrop Sedum, any
    Wild Lilac Ceanothus griseus var. horizontalis ‘Carmel creeper’
    Manzanita ‘Howard McMinn’ Arctostaphylos
    Coffeeberry Rhamnus californica
    Monkey-flower Mimulus aurantiacus
    White Yarrow Achillea millefolium
    Coral bells Heuchera maxima
    Blue-eyed grass Sisyrinchium bellum
    California Poppy Eschscholzia californica
    Farewell to Spring Clarkia amoena

     A good source for these plants in the Oakhurst-North Fork area in the Intermountain Nursery in Prather, CA.


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.