According to WX Shift, “since 1970 the annual average number of wildfires larger than 1,000 acres has more than double in the western U.S. The typical wildfire season has also stretched by about two and a half months longer over that time.” With years of drought and hotter temperatures stretching into the fall months throughout most of the western U.S., vegetation flammability has increased making wildfires a concern for many municipalities, HOAs and commercial properties. To help curb these concerns, brush management should be an integral part of every landscaping plan.
The USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service defines brush management as “the management or removal of woody (non herbaceous or succulent) plants including those that are invasive or noxious.” Brush management is applied to accomplish many results including reducing fire hazards around structures, helping firefights protect life and property when fires breakout, restoring natural vegetation cover to protect from erosion and more. In the west, many cities, municipalities and counties have established guidelines and rules for managing brush and reducing fire risk. Here are steps to follow when examining and executing brush management:
Step 1: Plan and identify what plants, trees and areas need brush management.
Step 2: Clear as much loose dead wood and invasive species as you can within the area. This will help you see what other plants and trees need care and pruning.
Step 3: Thin the plants and trees in the area. Start by trimming down plants over two feet in height to a height of six inches. This ensures two aspects: the roots remain intact to help minimize soil erosion. Depending on where you are in the country, thinning can be prioritized differently so check with your local county to learn what thinning should be done.
Step 4: Prune all plants or groups of plants that remain after the thinning process. Depending on the type of plant, the “umbrella” shape should be applied where possible. This means pruning lower branches to create umbrella-shaped canopies.
Step 5: Dispose of the cuttings and dead wood properly by either chipping wood to return to your property or by carting it to a landfill.
Step 6: Continue to monitor plants, thinning and pruning annually since plants grow back.
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