Sonoma County Water-Wise Gardening & Firescaping, designing home landscape to reduce vulnerability to fire

5 October 2020

As we experience the “new normal” of destructive wildfires paired with recent record-breaking temperatures over the past few years in California, it’s easy to feel hopeless about the effects of climate change. According to Climate Ready Sonoma County: Climate Hazards and Vulnerabilities, a report prepared by North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative for the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority, climate change will affect Sonoma County by bringing higher average temperatures, more extreme heat events, more frequent and intense droughts, and more variable rain. This water year, Sonoma County only received one-third of our average annual rainfall, making it the third driest year on record for the last 127 years.

One small way to help our community mitigate and adapt to climate change is through gardening. Our residential landscapes are an opportunity to plant beautiful, low water use plants that attract bees and butterflies, and provide food and shelter for local birds. Our gardens are also an opportunity to slow, sink and spread rainwater offsetting water quality impacts to our creeks, and to provide shade for our sidewalks and houses to reduce high temperatures. Residential landscapes can also help reduce a property’s vulnerability to fire. Firescaping, the idea of designing a home landscape in such a way to reduce vulnerability to fire, can benefit the whole community.

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