CAL FIRE recommends reducing wildfire risk by hardening structures with fire resistant building materials and creating Defensible Space. Properly spaced and well-maintained landscaping are important components of defensible space.

However, if landscaping within a defensible space cannot be reliably watered – due to conditions such as extreme drought – then dead and dying vegetation should be removed to reduce fire risk. The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and CAL FIRE would like to reinforce the importance of California residents implementing a fuel management program to protect property from catching fire due to embers, direct flame, or radiant heat.

Through proper planning and routine maintenance, you can conserve water and create a beautiful landscape, while maintaining your defensible space efforts. It is important to only use water when necessary to properly preserve and ensure the conservation of our sensitive resources. Educating the public about the importance of fire smart landscaping, selecting drought tolerant plants, and proper plant placement and maintenance is essential.

Remove Dead and Dying Vegetation

  • Examples of vegetation that should be removed to enhance defensible space efforts are dying weeds, grass, plants, shrubs, trees, branches and vegetative debris (leaves, needles, cones, bark, etc.). Check your roofs, gutters, decks, porches, and stairways for vegetative debris and remove if necessary.
  • Remove vegetation and items that could catch fire from around and under decks, balconies and stairs.

Utilize Fire Smart Landscaping

  • Proper landscaping for wildfire isn’t necessarily the same thing as a well-maintained yard. This type of landscaping focuses on plant characteristics, properties and maintenance to resist the spread of fire to your home. Through proper planning and routine maintenance, you can conserve water and create a beautiful landscape.
  • Trim trees regularly to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees.
  • Examples of fire smart landscaping can be found below. For more information, visit our Fire Smart Landscaping page.


Use hardscape like gravel, pavers, concrete and other noncombustible mulch materials, especially within the first five feet of your home.

  • No combustible bark or mulch.

For more information on how to properly maintain your landscape while conserving water resources, visit: