Things We Can Do – and Not Do – to Protect LA from the Second Punch
December 10, 2018. By Sam Souhrada: We hope you are fueled by the knowledge that we can expect resilience in the wild spaces and gardens impacted by November fires. While natural disasters can feel overwhelming, there are things we can do to protect one another from the second blow in California’s predictable one-two punch.
Whether impacted by fire or simply living near slopes, we recommend taking three actions now to ensure a safer rainy season.
Evaluate and Support Slopes
Dam with sandbags and/or add post and boards as needed on the slope. The intent is not to stop the erosion, but to slow it down. The speed of water and mud movement is what can be very dangerous. Simply slowing its flow can save a home or a life.
For those in areas impacted by fire, please note that re-seeding does not necessarily support slopes and should only be done with expert advice from landscape professionals with firewise landscaping know-how. Timing and species is key to getting this right. If we get it wrong, it can amplify flood danger and create more quick-to-ignite fuel for the following fire season.
Check Waterways and Irrigation
Fire can leave waterways from gutters to bioswales cluttered with debris. It is imperative these areas be cleared and monitored to allow the free flow of water post-fire, even if rain is not in the forecast.
Fire can also damage irrigation systems. Turn off irrigation. Check for leaks. While subsurface irrigation will not send up a geyser like an above-ground irrigation system, there are simple ways to detect subsurface leaks as well.
Creating topographical incentives for water to go in a direction that protects lives and property can be smart action – before rain falls. This can be particularly useful if your property has expansive hardscape, including landscapes of gravel and cacti. While dry rivers and bountiful bioswales can take time to construct, even petite divots can be of use in directing water flow.
While there are disasters that can overwhelm the best efforts, a great deal of trouble can be avoided by taking smart, proactive action. We hope this helps keep you safe and dry this holiday season!