Firewise Planning and Landscape Design

Wildfire burning into urban setting.

‘Firewise’ planning, landscape design, and maintenance is important in areas where fires frequently occur. Homes built on the wildland / urban interface are particularly susceptible to the destructive effects of wild fire.

Proper design firewise planning and design includes creating several landscape zones to create a defensible space around buildings and other structures.

Four basic zones are recommended for creating and planning a firewise landscape design:

Zone 1

  • Provide at least a 30’ buffer where tall plants are not grown on all sides of buildings and other structures
  • Mow tall dry grass
  • Provide enough space for fire suppression equipment to access the entire site
  • Use fire resistant plant species
  • Use proper irrigation close to building and structures

Zone 2

  • Use low growing fire resistant plant species
  • Use irrigation in this zone

Zone 3

  • Plant low growing fire resistant plants
  • Properly place trees away from structure and space them far apart
  • Fuel load (vegetation volume) should be low

Zone 4

  • Furthest zone from the building structure
  • Use natural plantings
  • Thin out highly flammable species

Although using fire resistant plants is important, appropriate planning and design is a large part of fire prevention.

Additional Resources:


Firewise Landscaping Part 1: Overview
Firewise Landscaping Part 2: Design and Installation
Firewise Landscaping Part 3: Maintenance
Firewise Foundation Plantings (Oklahoma)


Extension Disaster Education Network – Fire (Wildfire)
Wildfires – Utah State University Extension


Colorado – FireWise Plant Materials
Idaho – (Facebook)
Firewise Plants for Utah Landscapes
Fire Safety
Fire Safety/Wildland Urban Interface
Selecting Firewise Plants


Great Plains – Firescape – Firewise Landscape Design


Florida-Fire in the Wildland-Urban Interface: Selecting and Maintaining Firewise Plants for Landscaping
Wildfire risk assessment guide for homeowners in the Southern United States