As the horror summer of bushfires finally comes to an end and the process of rebuilding begins, there are a lot of questions being asked about how best to prepare for the next event. Bushfires are a normal part of the Australian landscape, and while they can be incredibly challenging, there are steps you can take to prepare for future events. In this post, we’ll look at how clever design and strategic plant selection can protect your home if you live in a bushfire prone area.
Basic Bushfire Landscaping Principles
Landscaping for bushfire involves careful planning and an investment of both time and money. It is not a one-off job. Rather, bushfire landscaping should be thought of as an ongoing project, one that will help protect your home should a bushfire start in your area.
There is much to consider including:
- The behaviour of a bushfire
- Understanding what a defendable space is
- Placement of plants around your home
- Flammability of the plants you have in your garden
- Ongoing maintenance requirements
Proper design and plant selection reduce the amount of flammable material which in turn reduces the amount of radiant heat your home is exposed to. These measures can also help deflect and filter embers, reducing the chances of direct flames reaching your house.
Ideally, homeowners in high bushfire danger risk areas should consult with a professional landscape gardener on how best to design their gardens and grounds for a bushfire.
Landscaping For Bushfire Resources
One of the most comprehensive resources on the subject is Landscaping for Bushfire: Garden Design and Plant Selection by the Country Fire Authority, Victoria. This publication was produced in the aftermath of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires and is free to download. It focuses on garden design and plant selection with detailed information on plant flammability, environmental weeds and garden maintenance.
The RFS publication, Bush Fire Provisions – Landscaping and Property Maintenance, provides the homeowner with useful information about property and vegetation maintenance so they can prepare their homes for the bushfire season.
Landscaping for bushfire prone areas is a specialist publication produced by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development for schools and education centres. It explains how to balance the need for shade, shelter and aesthetics with reducing fire risk, as well as what the best surfaces for playgrounds are.