You can have a beautiful garden whilst reducing the risk to your bushfire prone property …
So, maybe you’ve built or renovated your home to minimise the bushfire risk? If so, well done; that’s great. However, why stop there? Given that bushfires are part of our natural landscape, the most important design and construction stage to reduce your risk of bushfire attack is yet to be undertaken … your landscape! If your home is your castle then your garden is your moat!
After last year’s bushfire season, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that bushfires are becoming more frequent and with a higher intensity – Causing a greater amount of destruction and impact on many Australians. As the next fire season rolls around again this can understandably bring on anxious feelings and bad memories.
If you are rebuilding after a fire it can be challenging to find the motivation to plan a new garden. However, research shows that gardens have an important role to play. Why not, check out our Wellbeing blog to read more about gardens providing healing, respite and giving hope and optimism through new growth and rejuvenation.
This can be an opportunity to think about what worked in your old garden and what you would like to change. Nurseries, friends and family may be able to help you to regain some of your favourite plants lost to fire that held sentimental value to you.
The best news is that there is a lot of design tips I can share with you to get your landscape ready! But before you get your gardening tools out or head down to the plant nursery, we need consider the following factors:
- Do your homework – think site assessment and research
- Understanding how fire behaves
- Create defendable space around your home
- Garden Design
- Hardscape Materials
- Plant selection to improve your garden’s defence, and
- Ongoing garden maintenance
Understanding How Fire Behaves in the Landscape
By thinking about how fire behaves we can design to slow potential fire attack on our properties.
Topography or Slope
Are you close to bushland or grasslands, in a rural area or on a semi-suburban block? The steeper the hill, the faster the speed and the intensity of the fire. Flames and radiant heat dry out vegetation which then burns easily. For instance a mowed lawn or paved areas, terraced areas using retaining walls may be useful in creating defendable spaces.
Hot, dry and windy days create conditions that increase the possibility of fires starting and sustaining.
Vegetation = Fuel
When there is a lot of vegetation without spaces between this creates a continual path for fire to travel. Therefore, these factors should be considered in your garden design to reduce your risk. Consider the existing landscape fuel – this includes leaf litter, plants, mulch, fences, outdoor furniture, outdoor structures and how this fuel is likely to affect your dwelling and it’s defendability.
Landscape Design Constraints and Opportunities
This is where engaging a good Landscape Architect will be very beneficial. The right professional will carry out thorough research and conduct a site assessment of your individual property to bring together your dream garden incorporating all the essential elements in such a way as to minimise your bushfire prone risk, considering but not limited to:
- Site assessment and research
- Suitable hardscape materials
- Careful plant selection
- Future maintenance levels
Further Reading on Landscape Design for Bushfire Prone Areas
For further recommended reading, please visit the following informative sites.
The information on these sites has been applied and combined with my landscape design principles to help you maximise your garden design to minimise the risk. The following information sources have been chosen because they are a reliable, regularly updated and a trustworthy source of information :
- CFA Victoria
- RFS NSW
- Fire Protection Australia
- CFS South Australia
- Queensland RFS
- Tasmania Fire Service
EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org or ring ANGELA on 0416397258 to discuss your landscape and garden project incorporating BUSHFIRE RESISTANT strategies for your bushfire prone property design.Book a Consultation Now