When you're selling your home, landscaping is key. After all, well-maintained trees and shrubs can increase property value by up to 14%. But excellent landscaping can do far more than fetch a higher selling price for your property. In fact, it could very well save your life.
Although 83% of Americans think having a yard is important, having an attractive and well-maintained grassy area isn't essential for mere aesthetics alone. According to experts, the way in which you choose to landscape could have an impact on your property's overall safety rating. That's especially true in places like California, where wildfires have continued to spread, destroying thousands of homes and threatening residents' lives. In just the past year, the National Interagency Fire Center has recorded 46,474 fires in these areas, which have burned nearly 9 million acres of land. And while 65% of homeowners report repairing their roofs following weather damage, there often is no other choice but to completely rebuild after these fires have ravaged the area.
It's possible that something simple could help to reduce the risk of damage caused by fires, however. Creating what's known as a defensible space can keep a fire from spreading through specific landscaping (or "firescaping") techniques. Essentially, firescaping is all about reducing a property's vulnerability through certain types of landscape design. It involves surrounding the structural areas with components that are less likely to burn while prioritizing the modification of nearby vegetation, proper plant selection, and utilizing fire safety zones and similar concepts.
For example, homeowners living in fire prone areas should choose plants that are known to be less flammable (like broadleaf and deciduous plants or those that produce sap or less fragrance). The property should also be divided up into zones, wherein detailed instructions involving proper maintenance and planting techniques should be followed. Within 30 feet of a structure, for example, the plants used in this "zone one" should have fire retardant qualities that will not produce a flame if touched by a blaze. Generally, it's best to have more hardscaping in these areas and ensure that any trees located here have a higher moisture content. Irrigated lawns, ground covers, and low-growing annuals and perennials are typically allowed here, too. However, evergreen trees and shrubs should not be placed in proximity to a home due to their high risk of flammability. In "zone two," located further out, fire resistant plants can be used, which require little maintenance but that have a reduced risk of catching fire. Tree limbs here should be trimmed to be at least 10 feet off the ground. Once you get 50 feet away from your home, the main focus should be on native plant diversity and erosion control. And, of course, it's essential to remove dead growth and debris on a regular basis.
Whether or not you live in an area known for frequent wildfires, these landscaping tips can allow you to make smart property choices. Although 48% of homeowners planned to decorate their homes in 2018, there are plenty of those who focus on outdoor improvements throughout the year. And if your aim is to safeguard your home and your family, you may want to consider safety, rather than mere visual appeal, when designing your landscaping this year.