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“Firescape” your garden this year

It seems like a few short months ago that we all breathed a hearty sigh of relief that we had survived the 2013 fi re season. But don’t let this temporary victory cloud your thoughts for a successful 2014
season! Now is the time to start planning a new and innovative way to protect your house and home come the 2014 fire season

“Firescaping” is a new and revolutionary way to ensure your property is protected should a bush fire occur in your neighbourhood or vicinity. The principles of fi rescaping have been developed by Firewise communities across the world and South Africa’s local organisation (www.firewisesa.
org.za), is working with garden centres on this project. Behind the firewise community initiative, is the government’s Working on Fire programme.

Safeguarding your property against wildfires can potentially make the difference between whether your house is saved or consumed in a fire. Certain properties are more vulnerable to fire than others; in particular, homes situated beside dense stands of woody invasive alien vegetation are at huge risk.
Firescape in zones

How do you develop a firewise garden?

Identify and remove flammable (usually invasive alien) plants which can explode into “ladders of fire” and destroy your home. Divide the garden into three zones of defensible space that can be firescaped with firewise plants.

Here are descriptions of the three firewise zones:

Perimeter Zone
This is a buffer zone area on the boundary of your garden which should be planted up with low growing, fl eshy-leaved ground covers, hedging plants and isolated forest trees or large succulent aloes that are fire-resistant and regenerate when damaged by fire.

Garden Zone
Within the garden, design ‘island beds’ surrounded by lawn, paving or gravel. Choose fire-resistant trees and shrubs, but make sure that they do not touch each other or create a ladder effect that can deliver a fire to your home. Inter-plant the islands with low-growing ground covers.

Patio Zone
Create a 3m. wide zone of hard landscaping, lawn or low growing fire-resistant plantings around the house. This patio zone is a great place for shade loving, flowering plants.

Finally, start planning now to have your garden well developed and ready for the coming winter fire season.

Firewise tips
If you are planning to firewise your garden this summer, consider these practical tips:
• Remove all illegal invasive alien plants as many of them are highly flammable, for example, Port
Jackson, black wattle, pampas grass, giant reed and Spanish broom
• Conifers, deodars and pines will light-up like a Christmas tree in the event of a wildfire. Known
internationally to be the least fireresistant plants in a garden
• Trees are best placed on the outer boundaries of large gardens
• Allow plenty of space between plants that are near your home. Avoid planting dense shrubberies
• Avoid timber decking, timber fencing, wooden pergolas and archways

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