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Your home is likely one of the largest investments you will make in your lifetime. Protecting it is vital to ensure that you live as comfortably as possible while you own it, and that you are not diminishing your home’s financial integrity. While you may think of landscaping as a simple act to increase curb appeal, your landscaping (or lack thereof) can do a lot for to keep your home safe.

Landscaping for Defense

Unkempt brush and shrubbery isn’t just an eyesore, but can serve to catalyze a flame in the event of a fire. Whether you live in the country and are at risk of wildfire damage, or simply are at risk for an everyday house fire, your landscaping can contribute to or hinder a potential fire. If a wildfire is nearby or if your neighbor’s house catches fire, having a defensible space is key.  Remove dry leaves or pine needles and any dead vegetation within 30 feet of any structure, don’t forget about your home’s roof and gutters. Depending on your local area, this space–known as zone one –may expand to 50 feet based on county statutes. 

Within 100 feet of your home ( Zone two), cut or mow the grass down to 4 inches or shorter.  Allow extra vertical space between trees and shrubbery. Otherwise they form a “ladder” for the fire to move from the ground to treetops. Creating a defensible space may not entirely prevent a nearby fire from spreading to your home, but it may slow down the spread and give firefighters valuable time to react to save lives or the structure of your home.

Landscaping to Mitigate Damage

While proper landscaping can be an asset to your home, poor landscaping can damage it from the ground up. Ensure that your landscaping protects your home from foundation damage by avoiding key mistakes. Don’t plant trees too close to the foundation; the roots can grow as large as the tree’s branches above. This can cause damage and moisture. To further prevent moisture pooling against your foundation, avoid planting your flower beds so they slope in the direction of your home. Instead, ensure flower beds slope away from your foundation to prevent erosion.

Keeping your home safe from damage may require a little elbow grease, but donning your gardening gloves and getting to work can protect your home for years to come.