Fire, Flood, Slides – Not All Disasters Are Natural
Think the fire, flood, slide cycles of LA are inevitable? There is much we can do to keep our homes and wild spaces safe by landscaping to avoid “natural” disasters.
Here is a quick checklist to help you keep your property safe, stable and lovely:
- Evaluate the plant life on your slope now, identify slope savers and bolster their chances for survival.
- Prune to keep fire-safe distances between large shrubs and plants – the ideal is 15 to 20′ apart.
- Be vigilant with weeding.
- Remove non-natives, especially invasive plants like Pampas, Fountain and Mexican Feather grasses – they are troublemakers that can intensify the heat and speed of fires.
- Use fire features responsibly.
- Consider removing large succulents like agave, while fire-protective, their roots retain water that can destabilize slopes. Yucca Whipplei is a fire-fighting, edible alternative.
- Add fire-fighting and slope-saving native foliage to barren areas.
- Plant native wildflower seeds in the fall to beautifully support slope stabilization (We like Theodore Payne Foundation Seeds.)
- Check drains, gutters and all water flow on the property, ensuring all is functioning properly. Do not aggravate a sensitive slope by allowing irrigation leaks or overwatering.
- Give water a place to go. If you’ve hardened your property with gravelscaping, cement, or synthetic turf, it may be worth creating a rain garden, bioswale, dry river, and/or infiltration site to direct water away from structures.
- Consider some minor damming or post and boards as needed on the slope, not to stop the erosion, but to slow it down. The speed of water and mud movement can be very dangerous. Simply slowing its flow can save a home or a life.
- Consider sand bags now – this strategy is less effective once a slope begins to move.
- Educate your neighbors to protect them and yourself from erosion and fire hazards. Look for ways you to work together to enhance the safety of your neighborhood.
- Allow nature to take its course after fires.
- Be smart with any necessary redesign. Immediately planting annuals will only lead to an encore of fires and slides.
Updated September 2017.