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Wildfire-Proof Ornamentals

  • Because Michigan is surrounded by water and lacking the forest fire reputation and dry winds of western states, residents may not consider conditions within the state conducive to fire; however, according to a field assistant for the MSU Firewise program, "The presence of seasonally dry beach grasses, mature evergreens, upward sloping dunes and homes in secluded lakeshore areas are a volatile combination."

    The Michigan State University Extension notes that any plant can burn--even a fire-resistant plant--but selecting plants that lack resins and that feature foliage that hold onto moisture, such as maple trees and hostas, helps to reduce fire risks.

    Proper spacing of plants plays a vital role in fire prevention. The extension suggests locating all plants in relation to their estimated size at maturity, as this prevents fire from jumping as readily from plant to plant. Also, homeowners should keep a 3-foot zone between landscaping and their home and other structures and incorporate stone or other non-flammable mulch.

    Fire-resistant plants include the shrubs Michigan holly, shrubby cinquefoil and blackhawk viburnum, and helpful trees include the Kentucky coffee tree, the red maple (occasionally damaged by deer) and the flowering dogwood (seldom severely damaged by deer).

Read more: Popular Landscaping Ideas for Michigan |