Firewise Plant List

Ashland's FireWise Plant List

 

While there are 25 species of trees, shrubs and grasses that are prohibited to plant in Ashland,
there are many more Firewise alternatives that can be planted that are less ignitable in a wildfire.
 

Please click the list options below to view the entire Firewise Plant List

 

Many local nurseries also have more extensive Firewise plant lists, based upon the plants they have available. Please consult with your local nursery for Firewise recommendations.

Please visit Ashland's Water Wise Landscaping website for additional Firewise plant information and other helpful plant lists. 

 

 

Fire-Resistant Landscaping Best Practices

All plants will burn given the right conditions. To minimize the probability of wildfires igniting and spreading in the urban landscape, consider designing and maintaining landscapes as follows.

  • Abide by plant siting guidelines for fire-resistant landscaping in “hazard ignition zones” (HIZs) NFPA - Preparing homes for wildfire

  • Remove flammable plants (those that readily ignite or propagate fire) within 30-ft of structures and from under trees and shrubs in all HIZs.

  • Remove bark mulch and leaves and avoid planting any plants within 0-5-feet of structures. 

  • Emphasize plants that don’t grow over 2-feet high within 30-feet of structures.

  • Plant tall perennials, herbs, and deciduous trees/shrubs sparingly within 30-feet of structures.

  • Avoid planting any evergreen shrubs or trees within 10-feet of structures.

  • Minimize combustible mulches under plants and within 5-30-feet of structures.

  • Consider using very fine compost if inorganic mulching is not an option.

  • Avoid mass plantings and isolate planted areas by outlining with non-combustibles. 

  • Focus on keeping the soil and plants vigorous and healthy throughout fire season.

  • When selecting landscaping plants, make an informed choice. 


Select plants that:

  • Are well-adapted to local, and anticipated warmer and drier climatic conditions;

  • Do not usually retain dead leaves, except when in the process of shedding leaves;

  • Do not accumulate dead twigs and branches;

  • Do not have waxy, oily, resinous, or odorous leaves;

  • Have high salt, soap, or latex content and high-water content throughout fire season;

  • Are not prone to disease and do not have invasive qualities.

Do not plant in an urban environment: Pampas grass, bamboo, broom, sagebrush, rabbitbrush, arborvitae, juniper, cedar, or cypress—even dwarf varieties can be highly flammable and are not recommended. Do not plant invasive plants such as Himalayan blackberry, ivy, tree of heaven, mullein, or butterfly bush.


Landscape design considerations:

  • Develop landscaping plans based on the shape of the land and plant flammability.

  • Select plants that require little water to survive in a Mediterranean climate.

  • Maintain plants that provide habitat or food for pollinators and birds.

  • Practice gardening techniques that add nutrients to the soil and are good for wildlife.

  • Produce edibles for humans and wildlife.


Cautionary Notes:

  • “Where plants are placed and how they are maintained are more important than the type of plant selected.” (Valachovic et al. 2021) Proper plant care and maintenance is critical to mitigate wildfire risk! 

  • Species within the same genus DO NOT necessarily have equivalent fire-resistance. Assess each species individually. Plant size and growth form can make a difference.


Siting and Maintenance Best Practices

  • Siting recommendations are usually for flat terrain. The distance between shrubs should be 2 times the height of the shrub on a slope of 0-20%. On a 20-40% slope the distance should be 4 times greater and, on a 40+ % slope the distance should be 6 times greater.


Coniferous Trees

  • During fire season, regularly remove needles from roofs, gutters, other landscape plants, and around the ground near structures. This is most critical in late summer and early fall.

  • Don’t plant any coniferous tree or shrub within 30-feet of structures.

  • Eliminate all junipers/arborvitae regardless of location in higher density housing areas.

  • Prune out dead tree branches regularly and keep lower branches at least 10-feet above ground level and canopies 10-feet apart.

  • Do not prune up more than 1/3 the height of smaller trees, but prune some--1 to 2-feet off the ground is better than none!

  • Plant only short (<2.5-feet tall) low flammability plants under conifer trees.


Deciduous Trees

  • Plant trees so that at maturity their branches will not overhang a roof or touch structures.

  • Avoid planting trees that have papery bark or loose materials within 30-feet of structures.

  • Regularly remove accumulations of leaves from gutters and within 10-feet of structures.

  • Compost dead leaves rapidly or remove from the property.


Shrubs/Small Trees

  • Within 30-feet of structures, take care to isolate every shrub/tree and remove dead materials frequently if the plant is: (a) moderately to highly flammable, (b) more than 2.5-feet tall, or (c) could serve as a ladder fuel to a structure or taller plant.

  • In the 30-100/200-foot hazard ignition zone, ensure that shrubs and trees are well spaced, no ladder fuels are present, and highly flammable species are absent or isolated.


Graminoids/Ground Covers/Perennials

  • Within 30-feet of structures and other plants, do not mass plant ornamental grasses. Maintain lawns and massed grass heights at 4-inches or less from June-November.

  • Plants are not growing over combustible mulch; are watered properly, dead materials regularly removed, and plants are confined within identified areas to prevent spread.

 
Key References:
Univ of Nevada, Reno and US Dept of Agriculture.  2017. Choosing the right plants for Northern Nevada high fire hazard areas. Lake Tahoe Basin. University of Nevada Extension. Univ Nev Cooperative Extension. SP-17-01. Choosing the Right Plants - Lake Tahoe Basin (unr.edu)
Valachovic, Y., Quarles, S.l., Swain, S.V. July 2021. Reducing the vulnerabilities of buildings to wildfire: vegetation and landscaping guidance. UC ANR Pub 8695. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/5z80w412


The Firewise Plant List was developed in collaboration with Ashland Fire & Rescue, the Wildfire Safety Commission, Ashland's Water Conservation Specialist and Ashland's Bee City USA.The Fire Resistant Landscaping Best Practices were developed by Wildfire Safety Commissioner Charisse Sydoriak & Fire Adapted Ashland, in collaboration with the Wildfire Safety Commission and Ashland Fire & Rescue. 

©2022 - Fire Adapted Ashland - All Rights Reserved | Site Handcrafted in Ashland, Oregon by Project A

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