Use fire-resistant plants
Populating your landscape with plants that are resistant to fire can also be an important tactic. Look for low-growing plants that have thick leaves (a sign that they hold water), extensive root systems and the ability to withstand drought.
This isn't as limiting as it sounds. Commonly used hostas, butterfly bushes and roses are all good choices. And there are plenty of fire-resistant plant lists to give you ideas on what to pick.
Where and how you plant can also have a dramatic effect on fire behavior. The plants nearest your home should be smaller and more widely spaced than those farther away.
Be sure to use a variety of plant types, which reduces disease and keeps the landscape healthy and green. Plant in small clusters - create a garden island, for instance, by surrounding a group of plantings with a rock perimeter - and use rock mulch to conserve moisture.
Maintain accessible water sources
Wildfires present a special challenge to local fire departments, so it's in your interest to be able to access or maintain an emergency water supply - particularly if you're in a remote location.
At a minimum, keep 100 feet of garden hose attached to a spigot (if your water comes from a well, consider an emergency generator to operate the pump during a power failure). But better protection can come from the installation of a small pond, cistern or, if budget allows, a swimming pool.
Good planning and a bit of elbow grease have a big hand in wildfire safety. In a year with record heat and drought, looking over your landscape with a firefighter's eye can offer significant peace of mind.
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Guest blogger Pauline Hammerbeck is an editor for the Allstate Blog, which helps people prepare for the unpredictability of life.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.