Ladder fuels are the vegetation that allows fire to spread up from the landscape into a tree. Common ladder fuels include tall grasses, shrubs, and tree branches, both living and dead. The removal of fire ladders and fuels is part of creating defensible space around your home.
At a minimum, tree limbs should be pruned up to 6 feet, and potentially as high as 10 feet. Trees on slopes require the limbs to be pruned higher and trees should be separated. Care should also be taken to ensure you don’t limb up trees more than ⅓ the height of the tree. Consult an arborist, tree farm/nursery or landscape professional with question on removing limbs and the best time of the year to remove them for the health of the tree.
Ladder fuels come in many shapes and sizes including woodpiles, wooden fences, and outdoor structures. Efforts should be made to ensure they’re separated, and clearance is maintained around them to prevent the spread of fire to your home.
The spacing between grass, shrubs, and trees is crucial to reduce the spread of wildfires. The spacing needed is determined by the type and size of brush and trees, as well as the slope of the land. For example, a property on a steep slope with larger vegetation requires greater spacing between trees and shrubs than a level property that has small, sparse vegetation.
Learn more by visiting our Property Owners Resource Library at srcity.org/WildfireReady and click on Ready Set Go, Home Owners Guide to Fire Safe Landscaping and other useful documents.