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Protect your home from bushfires: Maintain vegetation

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Protect your home from bushfires: Maintain vegetation

by Megan Macpherson

Managing the vegetation around your home will reduce the path of the fire, and slow its progress towards your house. All vegetation and refuse are fuel for fire; therefore the maintenance of your yard is crucial.

Rake up fine fuels, such as leaves, twigs and bark, clean out gutters, and keep lawns short. Fine fuels will feed a fire more rapidly than other fuels. Lawns need not be shorter than 50 mm as this length will help retain some moisture in the ground. Move any wood piles away from the house, and make sure trees and shrubs are planted away from the house.

Keep plants well watered, and keep the ground moist with mulch. Cover mulch with dirt in fire season to prevent it from fuelling the fire.

The important thing to think about is the path the fire may take, and where it leads. Shrubs near the house or at windows can cause the fire to travel to the shrubs, crack the windows and fill the house with embers. Shrubs or long grasses at the bottom of trees will transfer the fire path to the tree tops which will provide more fuel for the fire and continue its spread. Trees are not as dangerous on their own however peeling bark, as well as long grasses and shrubs can give the fire a path. Tree branches hanging over the house are also a hazard; they will need to be cut back.

Trees may be planted as wind breaks in appropriate areas to prevent the spread of fire to your home by the wind. Planting trees away from your home is a good idea in any case, windbreaks should be far enough away from the house so that fire could not be transferred to the house should the windbreak catch alight.

When planning your garden, plant trees and shrubs which retain water, and which do not create excess refuse. Cultivate any plants near a stream or in a wet area, as these will provide a low fuel barrier in a fire.

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