1. K-State home
  2. »Research and Extension
  3. »Ford
  4. »News
  5. »Creating Defensible Space in the Landscape

Ford County

Creating Defensible Space in the Landscape

With the recent wildfires that have affected much of Western Kansas and the threat of more unless Mother Nature gives us some much-needed moisture, homeowners might want to consider ways to 'harden their home" or make it more fire resistant.

A defensible space is the space between a structure and the wildland area that, under normal conditions, creates a sufficient buffer to slow or halt the spread of fire to a structure. It helps to protect the home from igniting due to direct flame or radiant heat.

The homeowner can create defensible space by removing weeds, brush and other vegetation from around the property. This space is made up of three zones. K-State Research and Extension, the State Fire Marshal's Office and Kansas Forestry Service recommend the following to protect your home:

Zone 1 (0-30 feet around your home or property line)

  • Use hard surfaces such as concrete or noncombustible rock mulch, 0-5 feet around your home.
  • Use non-woody, low growing herbaceous vegetation. Succulent plants and ground cover are great choices.
  • Store firewood and other combustible material at least 30 feet away from your home, garage or attached deck.

Zone 2 (30-100 feet around your home or property line)

  • Create vegetation groups, "islands" to break up continuous fuels around your home.
  • Remove ladder fuels to create a separation between low-level vegetation and tree branches to keep fire from climbing up trees.
  • Remove leaf and needle debris from the yard.

Zone 3 (100-200 feet around your home or property line)

  • Keep grass and wildflowers to 8 inches in height.
  • Create and maintain a minimum of 10 feet between the tops of trees.
  • Remove ladder fuels to create a separation between low-level vegetation and tree branches to keep fire from climbing up trees.
  • Remove dead trees and shrubs.

Other things to consider are construction and quality of the defensible space surrounding your home such as balconies, decks, walls and fencing. Be sure these items are constructed of non-combustible materials and are checked on a regular basis.

While these recommendations are not practical for everyone, even doing what you can in your own space can help to prevent or minimize losses due to fire. For more information on defensible spaces around your home, contact the Ford County  Extension Office at 620-227-4542 or contact Andrea at aburns@ksu.edu.