Thursday, March 17, 2016

FIRE MITIGATION and LANDSCAPING – ZONE 1 ‘Steppables’, and VERY low growing perennial ground covers by Molly Niven

Ready for a wild fire?  Time to jump on this opportunity and add diversity and color to your landscaping.  Bottom line – we don’t want to put lives of any firefighters in danger saving our home nor do we want to endanger our neighbors’ lives or property.

ZONE 1:  0 – 15’ - 30’ outward from your home. Increase the distance on the downhill side.  Avoid planting anything in the 5 feet closest to your structure.  Think native rock covered with lichen!

Below are a few of my favorites for 8,800’, south-facing

PRIORITIES:  low to the ground (1”- 4”); a low sap resin content; drought tolerant at 8,800’; and easy to maintain once established.  These plants
·         are in full sun, some  partial shade;
·         are in decomposed granitic soil amended with a little compost (5%) – well drained soil, no fertilizer;
·         terrain is ‘sculpted’ so that water from gutters, roof and slope naturally irrigate plants needing a little more moisture
·         watered in until established;
·         not invasive at this altitude;
·         are transplants or purchased in small containers grown in nurseries or by Gilpin County Master Gardeners! 
·         flammable pine needle duff mulch is replaced with native gravels

Pussytoes  Antennaria parvifolia (Littleleaf),  and Antennaria rosea (Rosy)  Native; silvery green leaves form a dense mat 1” – 3” tall;  tiny white or rose rayless flowers soft to touch,  attracts butterflies and bees; sun/partial shade.

Sulphur flowered buckwheat erigonum umbellatum  Native; 4” – 12” tall;  grey green mat with yellow flowers are tinged with deep orange, copper or rusty red.; keep their color when dry;  great for flower arrangements!


Kinnikinnick (Bearberry)  Arctistaophylos uva-ursi  Native; spreading woody perennial; 3”-6” tall; waxy green evergreen leaves; little white flowers in spring and red berries in fall; attract birds, hummingbirds and small mammals; slow to get established; fabulous year round; remove dead branch tips in spring. 

Dwarf Mountain Fleabane  Erigeron compositus  Native; 3” tall; mounding plant; attracts butterflies;  pinkish purple ray flowers have yellow centers; blooms early throughout summer. 


Turkish Veronica Speedwell Veronica liwanensis Intense blue  flowers can last 6 weeks at this altitude; bright glossy green leaves year round; 2” high;  spreads to form dense mat, show stopper! 

Creeping Cinqfoil  Potentilla reptans   Small yellow flowers; spreads by underground runners; 2” –  5” high; spreads rapidly in some environments.

 My two favorite hardiest sedums:

Dragon’s Blood Sedum Sedum spurium  Succulent with bright green leaves about 2” tall that turn shades of maroon towards fall; pink, reddish flowers are small and star shaped.


Blue Spruce Sedum Sedum reflexum 'Blue Spruce' I like its spruce needle like leaves and yellow flowers; spreads slowly; evergreen.


3 hardy thymes:

 Creeping Thyme Thymus praecox Purple flowers are attractive to bees; spreads slowly as mat; deer resistant; edible; fragrant; steppable.

Elfin Thyme Thymus serpyllum  Forms very dense mat 1” high; aromatic; steppable; green to grayish foliage in summer; attracts bees. 

Woolly thyme Thymus. pseudolanuginosus  A little taller than creeping thyme 2” – 3”; tolerates light traffic;  aromatic , deer resistant; edible.
Irish Moss  Sagina  Dense, moss-green cushions that like shade; 1-2” tall; tiny white flowers in springtime; deer resistant.  I planted a few of these in our dry streambed, underneath the roofline to catch moisture on the north side of our house.  In 3 years they are filling in around the rocks nicely.




 Read more:
·  Webinar on fire wise landscaping by Gilpin County Extension Agent Irene Shonle
· Specifics on zones and creating defensible space
·  Overview of  slash burning, grants for fire mitigation, videos on ignition zones and landscaping
·  grass seed mixtures to reduce fire hazards
· - Colorado native Plant society has retail suggestions on where you can purchase container plants and native seeds

No comments:

Post a Comment