The end of summer generally means fire season is approaching. Unlike the mugginess we have experienced lately, strong Santa Ana winds will create dry hot weather which is the perfect mix for wild fires. The canyon brush has been growing all year and is tall and dry right now. Although rural communities away from the coast tend to get hotter and drier, homes in the urban areas need to take action as well. San Diego has many neighborhoods with canyons and as we saw with the recent fires we had in Carlsbad and San Marcos these dry areas are very combustible. Now is the time to check your own surroundings for fire hazards and take preventative measures.
The first step is to clear brush from around the perimeter of your property. Check with your local fire station for information on the fire abatement program for your city. They will let you know the requirements necessary for clearing brush around your home. Remember brush clearing also leaves the soil bare, so when the rains come you could potentially have an erosion problem.
The second step is to choose the right plants to prevent erosion. At Evergreen Nursery we have a great selection of groundcovers like Disneyland, Rosea, and Purple Productus which are proven fire breaks and excellent for erosion control. If planted correctly by amending the soil, installing the correct sprinkler system and adding the proper nutrients the area will be established in only a few months. Groundcover is not your only choice.
Trees and shrubs can also be used if you choose wisely. Here is a link to our list of fire resistant landscaping on our web site. http://www.evergreennursery.com/fire-resistant A couple notables are Agapanthus africanus. This 1 to 3 ft shrub is a natural fire retardant and also great for erosion. The beautiful blue or white pom-pom like flowers will be bursting in the summer months. Arbutus 'Marina' is an evergreen tree that has pretty bell shaped pink flowers and an attractive reddish trunk. It grows better when it is planted within groundcovers and shrubs which makes it a perfect fit for the aforementioned plants.
After the old brush is cleared away and your new plantings are established, your up keep is fairly routine. Keep your plants properly watered and prune/clear any dead growth to prevent any future fire hazards and also make your plants happier and prettier. The best defense is a good offense. Start walking your property monthly and check for hazards and also any other potential gardening issues. Make a list and bring it on by, we will answer your questions and help you make a plan of attack.