When Oklahoma’s heat intensifies and our lush green turns a crisp brown, consider how safe your landscape is in the event of wildfire.
First, remember this: All plants burn! However, some are more resistant to fire. Look for these characteristics in fire retardant plants: open branches, high moisture content in leaves, drought tolerant, little or no seasonal accumulation of dead vegetation, and slow growing (requires less pruning). For example, if after a charcoal briquette sparks a wildfire in your yard near your trees the grasses, pines, junipers, cedars and other evergreens will burn up quicker than an oak or maple tree.
Remember to remove dead limbs and other debris. Rid your trees of abandoned nests, dead limbs and other flammable material. Check your roof and other areas for debris. Don’t forget your gutters. Leaves and twigs collected here, especially on wood shingled roofs, are dangerous. In fact, in rural areas wood shingles are considered a serious hazard. Remove limbs that extend over your roof or those directly above or within 15 lateral feet of a chimney.
Properly space trees when you plant. If you live in the country, remember to carefully space your trees when planting. If a wildfire approaches, this practice helps to avoid a crown fire. Keep your trees pruned up six to 10 feet from the ground to avoid “ladder fuels”—vegetation that links grass to treetops. You may also want to give your home a firebreak, such as driveways, gravel walkways, sidewalks and paths. Another good firebreak is to maintain a green grassy strip with cool season grasses.
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