Let’s Make Orinda Beautiful and Resilient by Removing Flammables

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(Courtesy Moraga-Orinda Fire Department)
Above is an example of a home with non-combustible ground cover and trimmed bushes.

    As spring pops up, many of us turn to our gardens, eagerly pulling weeds, planting and enjoying our yards. This is a perfect time to start thinking about how to implement the new fire code (www.mofd.org) into your landscaping.
    It can be daunting, but just starting with a few steps will go a long way to make your property better able to withstand a wildfire.
In the next few months, I will share ideas, and the Orinda Firewise Council will put together learning opportunities – working with the garden clubs and nurseries – to get the information to everyone. Be sure to get on their mailing list at www.orindafirewisecouncil.org.
    First, set yourself up to get rid of excess fuel. Republic Services can help you here. Upgrade your green waste bin to the largest size for free. You can schedule four free pickups each year for up to 14 big brown bags of yard waste. Just call 925.685-4711.
    Next, make the front of your property safe for evacuation. The new fire code wants everyone to clear vegetation back three feet from the edge of the road; limb trees that are within 10 feet of the edge of the road up to six feet, so they don’t hang out into the road; and make sure your trees that hang out over the road over six feet high, have a 15-foot clearance from the branch to the road. To visualize this better, imagine a fire engine that needs to pass in front to get through with no impediments.
    If you want to go to the next level, remove all those very flammable plants like juniper, broom (all varieties), bamboo and rosemary from your property and put in fire safe plantings. There are lots of resources to advise you about this. For the NO list of plants MOFD has for Orinda and Moraga, go to https://bit.ly/3k8VgH1. For YES plants recommended by the Diablo Firesafe Council, go to www.diablofiresafe.org/tolerance.html.
    To find out more about firescaping for our area, try these resources:
    A great, seven-minute, high level description with examples of fire smart landscaping do’s and don’ts by Marin Master Gardeners: “Fire Smart Landscaping,” youtu.be/kUI6hUY9Nq8.
    A longer, but excellent webinar by Contra Costa Master Gardeners Steve Danziger and Hedwig Van Den Broeck is “Firewise Landscaping: Preparing Your Home and Property for Wildfire,” available at https://bit.ly/3du8DQK.
    The Orinda Firewise Council has a good selection of additional resources posted at www.orindafirewisecouncil.org/landscaping.
    Finally, if you are pulling weeds and want to put down mulch, please do not use shredded redwood or cedar bark (gorilla hair). Here’s what FireSafe Marin

(www.firesafemarin.org/mulches) recommends: Within five feet of buildings or roads, use inorganic ground cover like pebbles, decomposed granite or gravel. Within five to 30 feet away from buildings, use composted wood chips.
    These tips and resources should get you out of the starting gate for your spring and summer gardening.

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