Examine the land around your home. Take a close look at the areas that extend beyond your landscaping. What do you see? Are there trees, scrub brush and piles of rotting vegetation?
Are the trees mainly conifers (like pines) or deciduous (like cottonwood) or a mixture of both?
If the trees are largely conifers, you may have a problem. Pines and their evergreen relatives tend to burn more easily than deciduous trees. Cutting down the trees is one solution, but this may not be a realistic option given your HOA covenants, neighborhood aesthetics, or personal preferences. In dry times, keep them well-watered and clear away what brush or dropped needles your can. If you do cut them down, be sure to remove all their parts. Pull up the stumps as well as the roots to ensure a wildfire can’t feed off them.
In tall grass or scrub brush situations, get out that mower and your weed whacker. Cut grasses off short, clear away weed bunches, and chop out dried scrub. You’ll eliminate noxious weeds, lower the necessary maintenance for your outlying grounds, and starve fires of potential fuel in dry seasons. Your end goal is to create a 30 to 100 foot safety zone around your home. If you live near or in a pine or evergreen forest, increase this buffer zone to at least 100 feet.
This will cut down on the risk that sparks from a wildfire will jump to your house even if your surrounding landscape goes up in smoke. If you live in a modern “cookie cutter” community, where that large of a safety zone isn’t an option, do as much as you can with your own yard but also try to educate your neighbors about the risks of a wildfire.
Create a community wide “Fire Prevention Brigade” The more people actively involved in preventing the spread of a wild fire the better.