The fall's wildfire season begins Oct. 15, and Virginia Cooperative Extension, in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Forestry and the U.S. National Park Service, is encouraging homeowners to practice firewise landscaping techniques to protect their homes and property from fire.

“Homes in a woodland setting are surrounded by flammable vegetation. Firewise landscaping can create a buffer zone around your home. This not only helps to keep fire from approaching your woodland home, but it also provides a safe space in which firefighters can work,” said David Close, Virginia Cooperative Extension State Master Gardener coordinator. “You want to create landscaping that will ‘break the chain’ of fuel between your home and natural vegetation. Examine your yard and determine what can catch fire and what can carry fire to the house.”

The Virginia Master Gardeners and Land Care Stewards will be sharing the message — “you can help protect your home from wildland fire” — during the State Fair of Virginia Sept. 25 through Oct. 5 at the Richmond Raceway Complex. They will demonstrate firewise techniques and have an exhibit in the Virginia Gardens and Crops Center.

Extension is urging homeowners to take a few simple steps to protect their homes and property from wildland fires:

  • Keep your gutters cleaned out.
  • Rake leaves away from all structures on your property, including the house, out buildings, and LP gas tanks.
  • Create a defensible space around your house.
  • Become familiar with debris burning laws and regulations.
  • Clearly mark your residence, particularly if you are in a rural area, to make it easier for fire fighters to find your property.
  • Learn when you’re most at risk from wildland fire in this part of the country and prepare for it.
  • The Virginia Firewise program was developed in partnership by Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Department of Forestry. Also, Virginia’s Master Gardener program has been working closely with the National Park Service in developing resources for Extension volunteers and homeowners alike.

    For more information about firewise landscaping and techniques, contact your local Extension office or additional information can be found in Virginia Firescapes Firewise Landscaping for Woodland Homes, Virginia Cooperative Extension publication 430-300, or on the Virginia Department of Forestry’s website.