How to Create a Fire-Resistant Garden

Published February 12, 2021
Flowering Magnolia Tree Branch

If you live in a bushfire zone, a fire-resistant garden can create a safety zone around your home. Using moisture-rich ground covers, including on-trend succulents, as well as striking evergreens are just a couple of the ways you can start to build a stunning, bushfire-resistant space.

Create a Bushfire-Resistant Garden With Low-Flammability Plants

Plants with broad, fleshy leaves will not burn as easily as plants with finer, harder leaves. Planting in bulk will also create the best green barrier to slow the speed of bushfire.

Best Choices of Plants for a Fire-Resistant Garden

These are some of the best choices for a bushfire-resistant garden.

  • Bear's paw
  • Finger jade
  • All varieties of succulents like echeveria and agave, as well as easy-care favourites like agapanthus and canna lily
  • An all-rounder like aloe vera that you can grow a fire break and use, by breaking off the leaves and accessing the gel inside, to soothe scratches or sunburn
  • Shrubs such as camellia, lilli pilly, strelitzia (bird of paradise), and oleander to add a little colour, as well as fire-resistance
Succulent plants

Plant Bushfire-Resistant Trees

Consider also planting trees that resist fire to add interest and height to your fire-resistant garden.

Smooth Bark Evergreens

Choose trees that have a smooth bark and are in leaf all-year round (evergreens) or, at least, in summer (deciduous). An evergreen like magnolia little gem or magnolia grandiflora adds magnificent visual appeal and can help trap flying embers and sparks.

Ornamental Trees

Other good ornamental choices are native frangipani, water gum, Chinese elm, and ornamental pear.

Productive Trees

Productive trees do double duty; they produce food and help protect your home from bushfire. Fruit trees like feijoa and citrus including orange, lemon, and even kaffir lime leaf, are easy to grow and produce delicious fruit. A deciduous tree like a mulberry is a popular choice for a fire-resistant garden, supplying plenty of brilliant, purple berries for desserts or jam.

Feijoa sellowiana

Place Trees 10 Meters From Your Home

In bushfire zones, all trees should be placed at least 10 metres from your home, or no closer than their maximum height so that, if they do catch alight and fall, they won't create a danger to your home.

Add Vegetables to Reduce Bushfire Risk

Vegetables do more than provide food for your family. They can also help reduce the risk from a rapidly spreading bushfire. A moisture-rich, green patch of edible plants can further reduce the bushfire risk to your garden when combined with other plantings.

Easiest Veggies to Grow

If you're not a natural gardener, you can choose easy veggie species.

  • Lettuces
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Cabbages
  • Mint
  • Basil

Warrigal greens, often called New Zealand spinach, is also fast-growing, heat-tolerant, and delicious raw or cooked.

Don't Give Bushfire a Chance

Maintaining your garden will help keep fires at bay.

  • Rake up plant debris regularly, especially if you live in a bushfire zone.
  • Reduce grass, that can easily catch alight, or keep it trimmed to less than 10cm.
  • Use bushfire-resistant hardscapes for outdoor furniture, potted plants, pathways, or as a decorative feature.
  • Water plants regularly to keep their moisture content high.
  • Mulch with stones and pebbles, not wood chips and strip trees of loose bark.
  • A water feature, like a pond or swimming pool, can create a barrier between bushland and your home.
Landscaped Koi Pond

Protect Your Home From Bushfire

Choosing the right plants can help protect your home from the risk of bushfire, as well as create a beautiful garden.

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How to Create a Fire-Resistant Garden