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Avoiding invasive plant species, removing dead leaves and branches, and planting native plants can protect your landscape and home from wildfires. Photo: azboomer/Pixabay

Firefighting with Plants

Wildfire is a constant threat in Southern California. But there are ways you can protect your landscape and home using native, fire-resistant plants.

Plan your landscaping in three zones

Zone 1: Help your landscape resist fires by choosing smart designs and fire-resistant plants. The first zone should provide 35 feet of defensible space around structures and access areas. This maximizes fire prevention and allows fire crews to access your property if needed.

Zone 2: Your landscape should reduce the chances of airborne embers from catching fire. Thin vegetation for at least 65 additional feet in the second zone. That makes for a total of 100 feet of defensible space.

Zone 3: Many of San Diego County’s native, fire-resistant plants can survive and recover from infrequent fires. Some plants even use fire as a signal to begin growing.

However, when fires occur too frequently, survival is tough for even the most well-adapted plants. Invasive, non-native plant species make fires more frequent, longer in duration, and hotter. That’s why it’s important to remove invasive plants in fire-prone areas.

Crassula is a diverse and extensive genus of succulent plants, with about 350 species.

Crassula is a diverse and extensive genus of succulent plants, with about 350 species. Photo: Pixabay

Use fire-resistant plants

Some native plants with high salt or water content can themselves from airborne embers. For instance, agave, aloe, crassula, and other succulents store extra water in their fleshy leaves. These plants also usually have a low volatile oil content.

Five fire-resistant plant choices include:

  • Daylily hybrids
  • Coral Aloe
  • Indian Mallow
  • Bush Morning Glory
  • California Sycamore trees

Avoid plants that fuel wildfires

Messy, oily trees and shrubs, such as eucalyptus and junipers, fuel fires. They ignite quickly, burn hot and long, and release embers into the air. Because of those factors, they contribute to the spread of wildfire.

Preventative landscape maintenance includes regularly removing dry grass, thatch, brush, weeds, litter, waste, and dead and dying vegetation. Trees should be properly pruned. Similarly, shrubs should be thinned. Remove any dead branches or leaves. Leave root structures intact to avoid erosion. Dead leaves and branches are especially flammable on evergreen shrubs, so avoid planting these close to homes or structures.

This article was inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook available at The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at

A Giant Mass of Warm Water off the Pacific Coast Could Rival ‘The Blob’ of 2014-15

A large and unusually warm mass of water is threatening to disturb the marine ecosystem along the Pacific Coast from Southern California to Alaska, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.

They call it the Northeast Pacific Marine Heatwave of 2019, and if it doesn’t dissipate soon, researchers said it could be as destructive as the infamous “blob” of warm water that caused massive toxic algae blooms along the coast and wreaked havoc on whales, salmon, baby sea lions and other marine life in 2014 and 2015.

Fleet Science Center Selected to Join National Effort to Train More STEM Teachers

A national organization dedicated to addressing the STEM teacher shortage, 100Kin10, announced that a SanDiego museum will join 40 other new partners this year. In addition to the Fleet Science Center, the partners include the Chicago Public Schools and National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

A Look Inside Ventura’s Wastewater Operations. What’s The Future of its Estuary Discharge?

There’s a lot of confusion and concern about what will happen once the city of Ventura no longer discharges millions of gallons of water into the Santa Clara River Estuary.

There are questions over what will happen to the birds, fish, turtles, ducks and other critters once their environment dramatically changes.

OPINION: Valley Voice: Regional Effort Puts Water Solutions in Place for the Coachella Valley

Behind the scenes, the valley’s public water agencies have been working together to earn grants and improve water management for our entire region.

In 2008, they formed the Coachella Valley Regional Water Management Group (Regional Group) to:

  • reduce water demand;
  • increase our region’s water supply;
  • improve regional water quality;
  • serve as stewards of our shared water resource, and;
  • improve efficiency and flexibility.

Possible Lightning Strike Sets Brush Ablaze Near Murrieta, Schools Closed

A wind-driven wildfire that may have been started by a lightning strike had scorched nearly 1,400 acres just west of Murrietta, prompted evacuations and the closure of schools and was 7% contained Thursday morning.

The blaze was first reported about 3:55 p.m. Wednesday in the area of Clinton Keith and Tenaja roads, in the unincorporated community of La Cresta, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

In the course of an hour Wednesday night, the fire exploded from 250 acres burned to nearly 1,000 acres, the fire department said.

Calexico Mayor Has ‘Productive’ Inaugural Meetings on Census, Homeless

Calexico city officials and homeless advocates set a proposed short-term agenda that includes focusing efforts to expand and renovate the Catholic Charities men’s shelter in the city and establishing a combination homeless shelter and cooling center downtown, Mayor Bill Hodge said.

Progress Made on Calexico Sewer and Water Plant Upgrades

Although preliminary work and the replacement of aging water lines are already underway, the bulk of about $40 million in upgrades to Calexico’s water and wastewater treatment plants won’t start until 2020, a city official explained. The process to reach the point of construction is a lengthy one, but the city is making steady progress, Assistant City Manager Miguel Figueroa said.

Local coalition plans town hall to discuss possible West Basin desalination plant

A coalition of local conservation groups is hosting a town hall about a proposed desalination plant in El Segundo that has garnered controversy since it was first proposed more than a decade ago.

West Basin Municipal Water District plans to vote on the $400 million project by the end of this year, according to the Bruce Reznik, executive director of Los Angeles Waterkeeper – part of a coalition that includes Heal the Bay, Desal Response Group, Southbay Surfrider Foundation – that comprises Smarter Water LA.

The ‘Dog Days Of Summer’ Will Afflict San Diego Until Friday

Feeling cranky? Blame it on the monsoon.

Moist, unstable air from northern Mexico is flowing into San Diego County, raising the heat and humidity to uncomfortable levels and sparking a few spectacular thunderstorms.

One of those cells unexpectedly pushed into downtown San Diego shortly before 3 p.m. on Wednesday, producing big booms, bright bolts and enough rain to briefly slow traffic on city streets.