Hardscaping -- the inorganic elements in your yard -- is an important part of most landscaping plans. However, few rural homeowners think of how it can help increase the home's safety. If you are at any risk of wildfires, your hardscaping can be a last defense for your home. So, how can you use hardscaping to protect yourself during the coming fire season? Here is a handy guide anyone can implement.

Hardscape Around the Base. The area immediately around your home and outbuildings (such as the garage, barn or sheds) is the final protection against a wildfire. So, it should be made as fire resistant as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to use hardscaping rather than flammable plants, shrubs and trees. Visualize a line about 20 to 30 feet from all sides of the house, then plan how you can minimize greenery in this 'safety zone.' Working with a professional landscaping service with experience in hardscaping, you can come up with many beautiful and low-maintenance ways to use this hardscape space. It can include such things as:

  • Patios and decks
  • Pools and hot tubs
  • Outdoor rooms
  • Sidewalks and walkways
  • Gravel, pavers and flagstone
  • Rock gardens
  • Expanded porches

Consider the Materials. Of course, hardscaping only works as a defensive measure if you choose fire resistant materials. Tile, gravel, brick, flagstone, pavers and concrete are all excellent choices for improving fire safety. If you want to use wood, be sure that it is comprised of exterior-grade, fire-retardant-treated lumber. And if adding a roof to outbuildings, decks or patios, use ignition resistant materials such as composition, metal or tile. 

Thin Greenery Around Hardscaping. Most homeowners want to add some kind of landscaping to areas with a lot of harsh, inorganic elements. And if you choose your greenery wisely, you can have both the beauty of plants and flowers as well as protection from flames. Start by avoiding large, lush plantings in this area. Space out your shrubs and trees, ensuring that they don't touch each other (even in the canopy above) so that flames can't jump easily. Use mulch or stones in garden beds to help add space around low plantings. And opt for landscaping that doesn't ignite easily, such as sage, California fuchsia, hardwood trees, sumac and aloe. 

By knowing how to design your hardscaping so that it can be both attractive and practical, you can create a yard that brings the satisfaction of adding to your family's safety. Learn more about hardscaping here.