Q: With the recent wildfires consuming land and homes in Arizona, Colorado and California, how do I reduce the risk of fire hazards in my Florida landscape?

A: Florida’s frequent lightning strikes and human carelessness guarantee that wildfire will continue to be a factor in rural and suburban areas. Two risk factors are involved: the land use in your area and the vegetation around your home.

If you see bare ground, large or mostly leafy trees, few low-growing plants and broad leaves covering the ground, you’re at lower risk. If you see beds of pine needles, numerous pine trees, continuous palmettos, vines, and small-to-medium trees or palms beneath taller pine trees, you live in a higher-risk area.

Regardless, you can take steps to help keep yourself safe. Trim lower branches up to 10 feet on tall trees. Remove vines from trees. Keep shrubbery away from pine trees so ground fires can’t climb up to the treetops. Keep in mind that many plants are not as flammable, including dogwood, viburnum, magnolia, beautyberry, oaks, red maple, wild azalea, sweetgum, coontie, winged elm, ferns and wild olive — good to know if you’re planning a landscape redesign or installing a new one.

More questions? Check the internet to find complete information on how you can reduce your risk of wildfire with selected plant materials and proper landscape maintenance.

Resources: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS. Firewise http://www.firewise.org


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