Wildfires can destroy your home, but you can reduce the risks by managing the trees on your property. This may mean removing quite a few trees, but the reward is more open space and a zone around your home that is easier to defend against fire.

1. Set Your Defensible Zone

In some areas, defensible zones against wildfire are set by law, so always refer to local regulations first. Otherwise, your main focus should be on the 100 feet nearest to your home. The first 30 feet is your main zone, where you want no dead or combustible materials and very few trees or shrubs. The remaining 70 feet is your second zone of defense. There can be a few more trees here, but care is needed to reduce the risk during a fire event.

2.  Remove Encroaching Trees

Although you can have trees in the first zone, these should be far enough away so that any encroaching branches are at least 10 feet away from your house. Any trees with branches that encroach too closely are best removed, as extensive pruning will only weaken the tree and make it more prone to fire damage in the event of a wildfire. The same is true for trees in this zone that are encroaching on each other or those with trunks planted too close to the house.

3. Consider Conifer Removal

Conifers can pose a greater risk compared to broadleaf evergreens and deciduous trees. This is because conifers tend to contain less moisture, and they are often filled with natural resins that are quite flammable. Plus, fallen needles are very dry and ignite easily, and they are more difficult to rake up compared to broader leaves. Consider removing any conifers, including both trees and hedges, that are located in zones 1 and 2.

4. Thin Out Deadwood

Deadwood can become a torch in a fire, quickly producing embers and flames that can jump from tree to tree or even onto your home. Any trees that are dead or have extensive dieback, no matter where they are on the property, should be removed immediately. The remaining trees need to be kept well pruned so that all dead branches and dense overgrowth is removed so that there is less fuel for any fire. Branches, both living and dead, must also be removed to a height of at least 6 feet in order to reduce fire dangers.

Contact a tree removal service if you are concerned about fire safety and the trees on your property.