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Firewise Landscaping


Fire has always played an important role in shaping Florida’s landscape. Many of Florida’s ecosystems depend on fire for their continued existence. Fire is also used to manage forests and prevent wildfires. Some residents in Harmony live near or next to some of these fire-dependent natural communities. For those that live next to these communities where wildfire could spread into their yards, a few steps can be taken to create a Firewise property.

What does it mean to be Firewise?

Being Firewise is the ability to live safely near a fire-dependent natural community. This depends on the use of Firewise principles to protect homes including landscape design and vegetation management.

Create defensible space!
Protect your home from fire by creating and maintaining a 20-foot open buffer around your house. Lawns and walkways create “firebreaks” which interrupt the path of a fire.

Design a Firewise landscape!
Consider the local fire history, site location and overall terrain of your yard. Are you surrounded by more urban or natural landscape? Are there other firebreaks (waterways, roads, etc) between your yard and the natural areas?

Landscape with less flammable plants such as flowering dogwood, sycamore, beautyberry, red maple, redbud, magnolia, oak trees, sweetgum, hophornbeam, or winged elm. Carefully space trees during planting.

Use native vegetation!
Native plant species are already adapted to local fire conditions. They also have the added benefits of using less water and attracting wildlife.

Maintain your landscape (especially during times of drought)!
Be sure to keep your irrigation system well maintained and free from debris. Keep trees pruned about 6-10 feet from the ground if they are near the house.



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Copyright © 2004 UF/IFAS Extension and Mark Hostetler
Content written by Elizabeth Swiman and Mark Hostetler
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611