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by Marguerite

Photo of local sunset

There is nothing prettier than a shady tree-lined driveway – unless you are trying to evacuate from your home during one of our wildfires! An old oak tree blew down across a neighbor’s drive during our October preparation to evacuate. However several of our wonderful neighbors came to her rescue with chain saws and strong muscles to clear the barrier. And luckily, we did’t have to leave our valley during this fire. Some planting and cultivation practices can give you and your home a better potential for surviving a fire.


If you want to plant a new tree next to your house or a driveway or roadway, think about the direction of the October Santa Ana winds. In Sherilton Valley, they blow toward my house and drive from the northeast. If you are new to the area, check with your neighbors to determine what happens in your neighborhood. Plant trees so they won’t blow across the driveway or fall on your house or outbuildings. Also, consider the tree’s potential height and provide enough "fall space" to get around a fallen tree in an emergency. Try to plant as far away from the roadway, driveway or building as the tree grows tall. If you plant them in rows, make sure the rows do not provide an easy path toward buildings or driveway exits. Planting trees in islands, with firebreak separations between trees or


Firesafe practices suggest that you prune trees up to six feet above the ground. Prune and remove dead wood regularly, and remove all dry growth underneath. Mow grass and weeds periodically, and especially just before our most hazardous October wildfire season. Some leaf litter is ok under our native oaks, but most should be removed. (it makes great compost for acid-loving plants!) If a tree overhangs a driveway or roadway, you are required by county fire regulations to prune away all growth up to fourteen feet

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