Defensible space is the buffer zone created between a building or structure on your property and the trees, bushes, tall grasses, and any other wildland area that may surround it. This space is necessary to slow and obstruct the spread of wildfire. The implementation of defensible space is calculated and purposeful in protecting your home and property from unrepairable damage.

Identifying Fire Risk

Our certified arborists can assist you with distinguishing problem areas that may be susceptible to fire.

Fire Fuel Reduction:

  • Prune low hanging tree branches
  • Thin overgrown hedges, shrubs, & grasses
  • Remove dead plant material
  • Clear out roof & gutter hazards

Distressed trees:

  • Excessive leaf loss
  • Frail bark
  • Dry or brittle limbs
  • Noticeable rot or fungus growth

Proper Tree Spacing

Providing appropriate spacing between tall grasses, bushes, and trees is vital to slowing the spread of wildfire. Our arborists can inform you of best practices and help your property be both fire ready and looking beautiful.

Vertical Spacing: The removal of branches and vegetation (also known as “Ladder Fuels”) that can create a link between the ground and the treetops. It is recommended to remove all tree branches at least 6 feet off of the ground for individual trees and to allow more space if there are nearby shrubs or bushes. By trimming branches to provide clearance that is 3 times the height of nearby shrubs or bushes you may greatly reduce the chances of a wildfire ascending from the ground to the treetops.

  • Remove tree branches 6 feet from the ground
  • Provide extra vertical space between shrubs & trees
  • Lack of vertical space creates an upward path for wildfire

Horizontal Spacing: Where multiple trees are located near one another, it is recommended there be a minimum of 10ft of horizontal clearance between the branches of other trees or structures (house/garage/deck).

For bushes or shrubs, the horizontal spacing should be at least 2 times the height of the plant itself.

Horizontal spacing is increased for plants and trees on sloped terrain:

  • Flat or mild (less than 20%): 10 feet
  • Moderate (20%-40%): 20 feet
  • Steep (Greater than 40%): 30 feet

Defensible Space Zones

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) have recommended guidelines in place for safeguarding property against wildfire. Not only does this “Defensible Space” create a fire block on your property, but also provides a safe zone from which firefighters can defend your home. Two primary zones make up a region extending 100ft from your home and other property structures.

Zone 1: 30 feet from structures

  • Regularly trim trees keeping branches 10 feet away from other trees/structures
  • Remove all dead or dry vegetation
  • Provide clear space between trees, bushes, and other flammable items (patio furniture, sheds, swing sets)

Zone 2: 30 to 100 feet from structures

  • Create horizontal spacing between trees and bushes
  • Create vertical spacing between trees and ground
  • Cut grass to a maximum height of 4 inches

Fire needs fuel in order to continue burning. Dead and dry vegetation will allow a fire to sustain itself and travel easily from one location to the next. At Vintage Tree Care, we are experts in our field and can assist in the pruning of overgrown trees and vegetation as well as the removal of tree liabilities.

Minimize Your Fire Risk

Santa Rosa residents know all too well the dangers unkempt trees pose during wildfire season. The establishment and maintenance of defensible spaces around Sonoma County homes and businesses plays a critical role in minimizing the risk of spreading and damage caused by fire. Our arborists will provide a detailed assessment of your property and best practices as well as help your property be ready for wildfire season.