Plants not only make your compound attractive but also bring in fresh air and amazing scents. While choosing plants for your compound, make sure you have those that not only withstand the weather but also other hazards such as fire.
With the weather patterns changing each day, we are witnessing longer dry periods. Therefore, you must act by creating defensible space around your home and property.
According to the spruce.com, an online portal, defensible space refers to those areas between your home and other structures such as accessory buildings or neighbouring houses) where potential sources of fuel (vegetation or materials) have been redesigned, modified or eliminated.
This can be achieved by clearing out dry or overgrown vegetation and replacing existing landscaping with fire-safe plants that might slow the spread of wildfire toward your home or create a barrier. “A well-designed defensible space also allows space for firefighters to safely get to the flames and do their jobs,” the site states.
Catherine Ahebwa, a landscaper at Beautiful Homes, says it is not guaranteed that plants will be saved when fire guts your landscape but the nature and the art used to plant them could save some of them from burning.
She advises you to learn the art of spacing your plants and also mix them with the low flammable ones to make sure there is a minimal fire in case of an outbreak.
She says if one does not know what to do, it is better to seek assistance from an expert who will help in designing the landscape and decide where each plant will be placed.
Boniface Wanja, a landscaper at Bonre Consultancy in Bweyogerere, says shrubs such as hibiscus, roses, raspberries and lilac among others others will keep the fire away since they are thick and cannot let the fire easily penetrate to other plants.
On the other hand, he says, although they may prevent fire from easily gutting to other areas, when dry, they can easily spread the fire. This is the reason you are advised to plant them a distance from the house and other plants.
Ahebwa says most succulent species such as agaves, aloe vera (kigaji), crassulas, cactus, jade, and some ice plants are fire resistant because they store water in their leaves. “With the moisture that they retain, the fire cannot easily burn them and even if it does, they can easily grow again,” she says.
Apart from being fire resistant, she says, they also beautiful your compound and purify the air.
Wanyama says creeping plants have small leaves and they do not completely dry up. They grow at a low level which makes it hard for fire to destroy them. “Most of them are found on walls, walkways, rocks and these do not let the fire easily burn them since they are not flammable,” says Wanyama.
They include the sweet acacia, willow acacia, shoestring acacia, citrus and olive.
Precautions to take
Wanja advises you to always remove the dead leaves and branches as soon as the start manifesting because pruning dead limbs is a good way of preventing fires.
“With the dead leaves and hanging branches left on the trees, the fire will easily be ignited because those will act as fuel for the fire,” says Wanja.
Compound grass should also be mowed immediately it grows so that it can give room for fresh grass to grow.
He advises you to plant more succulent plants because they retain moisture, are less likely to ignite a fire and do not burn readily.
While gardens in most parts of Uganda are not as susceptible to fires, employing defensive practices and design principles can lessen the possibility of a fire destroying a property.
There is no such thing as a completely “fire-proof” plant. Most specimens will ignite if exposed to flames. Select high-moisture plants that grow close to the ground and have a low sap or resin content. An added bonus for those in dry areas: some fire-resistant plants are also drought-tolerant.
Do your research and you will find that there are actually hundreds of fire-resistant plants from which to choose.