Put the Right Mulch in the Right Places

If you have lined the perimeter of your house with any kind of wood mulch, especially within the five feet “ignition zone” next to exterior walls, it’s time to take it out.

Oakmont residents increased drought-tolerant, low-water use landscaping over the past few years. One of the unfortunate consequences of this well-intended movement has been the extensive placement of wood mulches.

With our growing awareness of the need to improve our fire-resistant landscaping, we need to evaluate the kinds of mulches and in particular, their placement around our houses. Several universities and fire associations have conducted flammability tests on a variety of mulches, looking at flame height, rate of fire spread, and temperature. They have determined that any kind of wood mulch – chips, shredded bark—and rubber mulch, are highly flammable and should not be placed next to houses.

Specifically, FIRESafe Marin recommends that only inorganic mulch (brick, rock, pavers) or fire-resistant, well-watered, low-growing plant materials be placed in the five-foot perimeter adjacent to houses. Bark chips, rubber, and shredded redwood or cedar bark should not be used within 15’ of any structure or combustible accessories like fences or outdoor furniture. Also, any wood mulch that surrounds shrubs or trees that can become ladder fuels during a fire needs to be removed and replaced.

Please help make Oakmont a more fire-resistant community by putting the right mulch in the right place. Fire safety here depends on all of us.


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