Caring for Plant Life During Drought and Fire


In times of drought, wildfires can happen anywhere. One of the most important and effective steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your home from a catastrophic wildfire is to create a “defensible space“. A defensible space is the area between a structure and an oncoming wildfire where nearby vegetation has been modified to reduce a wildfire’s intensity.

But your preparation work doesn’t stop there. According to the Colorado Mountain Gardeners, you should follow these additional steps to protect and maintain your property during a wildfire or drought.

Protecting your Home from a Wildfire

  • Plant firewise plants or plants that do not produce a lot of litter like Aspen trees near your home.
  • Remove any dead plants and remove flower stalks that are no longer blooming as often as they dry out. Deadheading perennials and shrubs will also help put more energy back in the root system instead of putting energy towards producing seeds.
  • Remove leaf litter that is close to the house or in the gutters. Fires easily start from just one ember falling in debris.
  • Use rock mulch, flagstone, paver stones, or other non-combustible materials closest to the house.
  • Keep wood piles and other wood products/furniture away from the house.
  • Keep high to moderate water-loving plants closer to your house, as long as it does not affect your foundation.

Maintaining your Gardens and Landscapes During a Drought

  • Water mature established trees out twice their height or spread, and give them a deep soak once a month to a depth of 12-18 inches. This process will keep them vigorous enough to help ward off insects like bark beetles and borers.
  • Remove trees with lower dead limbs to decrease fire ladder potential.
  • Prune evergreens when dormant to prevent attracting insects, like bark beetles and borers.
  • If the plants are diseased or insect infested, follow appropriate protocol to dispose of or prevent any spread.