Landscape appropriatelyLandscape appropriately

Landscape appropriately


Landscape appropriately to create a buffer zone around your house and allow fire truck access; choose fire-resistant plants.

Living in a bushland setting poses a risk from bushfire, no matter where you live in Australia. You might not be able to stop a bushfire, but you can make it harder for a fire to reach your home by creating barriers and buffer zones around your home, which could stop or slow progress and give you extra time to extinguish the fire. Where houses adjoin bushland, an inner and outer asset protection zone is recommended.

Development on bushfire prone land requires a set back distance known as an asset protection zone or fire protection zone, which is a buffer zone between a bushfire hazard and buildings. The aim of this buffer zone is to minimise available fuel, reduce radiant heat and prevent flame and ember contact, and therefore protect human life, property and valuable assets. The optimal width of asset protection zones depends on slope, surrounding vegetation, likely Fire Danger Index and construction level.  

Creating a buffer zone (ideally at least 10 metres) between strategically placed barriers, such as stone or brick walls or fire-resistant trees and shrubs, could give you additional time to deal with burning debris and advancing flames, which might destroy your home. This buffer zone also provides access for fire fighters, fire trucks and occupants, and a relatively safe area where property defence can be established or back burning can be commenced.

A green safety zone around your home can reduce fire risk by decreasing the fire's intensity, reducing wind speeds, and shielding your house from extreme beat. Trees and shrubs can also catch flying embers and sparks. Creating and maintaining a defendable space around your home increases the chances of a home surviving the fire front, by reducing the chance of direct flame contact and radiant heat igniting your home during the passage of the fire front. For example, fire does not spread easily over low-fuel areas such as driveways, pools, tennis courts, gravel, and mown lawns.

Using fire-retardant trees in areas prone to bushfires not only enhances the landscape, but when selected and placed appropriately they can assist in safeguarding homes in the event of a bushfire. Your decisions will impact how the fire moves, what actually burns, and how much flaming embers are blown about.

Vegetation can form part of a fire barrier if it holds moisture throughout summer or creates a continuous screen from understorey to canopy. Look for plants where the leaves have high moisture and mineral content, low oil levels, and fine form. Also, plants with limited foliage, low dead foliage, and foliage clear of the ground are preferred. Trees with tight-fitting, continuous bark can't 'catch' burning embers. Avoid planting trees that annually shed bark in long stands, such as Stringybark Eucalypts.

Talk to your local nursery about appropriate species for your particular location.