cover image Firescaping Your Home: A Manual for Readiness in Wildfire Country

Firescaping Your Home: A Manual for Readiness in Wildfire Country

Adrienne Edwards and Rachel Schleiger. Timber, $27.99 trade paper (264p) ISBN 978-1-64326-135-5

Ecologists Edwards and Schleiger debut with a solid manual on how California, Oregon, and Washington State residents can make their homes fire resistant and landscape responsibly. Noting that such invasive plant species as cheatgrass, broom shrubs, and yellow starthistle catch fire easily, the authors emphasize the importance of planting native flora in one’s yard. They spotlight dozens of trees, shrubs, and grasses indigenous to the West Coast, observing that red alder trees thrive in silty soil and that woolly milkweed requires little water. Edwards and Schleiger contend that while too much vegetation poses a fire hazard, too little does as well because “healthy green vegetation can capture, block, and/or slow windborne embers.” They recommend spacing out plants so that they decrease in density as one approaches the home. Solutions for protecting one’s house include installing clay or cement roofing tiles, noncombustible soffits, and double-pane windows for protection against the heat. It’s not always clear if certain suggestions stem from fire safety or tangential environmental concerns (the emphasis throughout on planting species “attractive to pollinators” doesn’t appear to offer any protective benefits), but the practical guidance on “hardening your home against fire” contains some useful tips. West Coast denizens will want to study up. (Aug.)