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Make a fire-smart plan. Consider existing plants, budget, and how much maintenance you are willing to do. Start by understanding the three defensible space zones. The idea is to decrease the energy and speed of a fire by eliminating continuous, dense vegetation vertically and horizontally. Defensible space allows a safer space to defend property. Plant spacing and maintenance is key. 

  • Zone 0: 0 to 5 feet from the house. This is the most critical area. Minimize combustible materials and separate plants with non-combustible materials (concrete, brick, rocks, decomposed granite, gravel). Eliminate combustible plants and mulch near structures, especially windows. Select plants that are easy to maintain that do not produce excessive debris.
  • Zone 1: 5 to 30 feet from the house. Separate plantings and garden beds with hardscape and provide ample plant spacing to slow the spread of flames. 
  • Zone 2: 30 to 100 feet from the house. Here, you can use larger shrubs and trees planted in widely spaced groups or “islands.” Consider the mature size of plants and shrubs to maintain spaces.  

More detailed information can be found throughout the Marin Master Gardener Website.

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