Careful planting and maintenance are a must for your landscape trees. This is especially true if you live in an area prone to forest or grass fires, but it should at least be a consideration no matter the local fire risk. Keeping the proper fire space clearance around your home is a simple but important home maintenance task.

Safety Concerns 

Both fire and building safety must be considered when it comes to landscape trees. Trees shouldn't be planted too closely to any residential structures, as fire can spread from the branches to the rooftop. Once the roof ignites, it is more likely that the building will be lost.

Even trees planted a fair distance from the house can pose a fire and safety concern. As the branches grow outward, they can eventually overhang the roof or brush against the siding. Winds tend to be high when a wildfire tears through a region, so trees will blow and bend toward the house. Make sure to keep everything trimmed back sufficiently so that the branches don't reach the house even if the winds are high.

Legal Requirements

There are likely legally upheld code requirements when it comes to the location of trees near homes in fire-prone areas. The requirements typically focus on defensible space, which is the cleared area around a home that can be defended during a fire in order to save the structure. 

Code requirements for defensible space can vary by space and even neighborhood. The laws typically regulate both vertical spaces, which is the space between the ground and the lowest tree branch, as well horizontal spaces, which is the space between trees, and well as the space between trees and buildings. A call to your county planning office or to a local tree service can inform you of the legal requirements in your area.

Tree Management

You have two options when it comes to managing trees near buildings -- regular pruning or prompt removal. In high-risk fire zones where there are code requirements for tree distance, it may be necessary to remove any trees that aren't spaced properly from each other or from a building.

Otherwise, pruning annually is probably sufficient for fire space clearance. Lower branches can be removed with a trimming process known as limbing up, which raises the tree crown to a safe distance above possible ground fires. Then any long branches can be cut back to maintain the defensible space around the home. 

Contact a company like Tope's Tree Service to learn more about residential fire space clearance.