Landscapers Learn about Defensible Space at Local Conference - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Landscapers Learn about Defensible Space at Local Conference

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High winds and warmer temperatures can increase the chance for wildfires. But, imagine if your lawn service or landscape architect could help you figure out how to design and maintain a yard that is more resistant to wildfires. Monday the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension held a symposium to reach out to landscape professionals who are often on the front lines when it comes to creating defensible space.

Cooperative Extension Natural Resource Specialist Ed Smith said it's important to enlist landscape professionals in the fight against wildfires. "In my mind it's a no-brainer," said Smith. "If we can get the landscape industry up to speed on wildfire threat reduction, proper vegetation management and reduce the threat, we'll have a very powerful and valuable ally that'll help northern Nevada residents reduce the fire threat."

About 60 people attended the conference, including horticulture consultant Leslie Lyles. "One of the big things I've learned is how far the defensible space has to be. I've always used the 30 foot rule, but I'm learning now that on slopes it can be 150 - 200 feet depending on the steepness of the slope," she said.

Reno firefighter Ben Rupert was one of the speakers at the symposium. He talked about why it's important to first responders that the houses they protect have defensible space. "Fuel moisture content is one of the biggest things we look at. The amount of moisture in the plant is very important." He cited juniper bushes as an example of a plant that's highly flammable. Landscape professionals can suggest other materials that can help homeowners reduce the spread of fire. "You're looking at decking, the siding, we have all different types of fire resistant material they can use to assist us," said Rupert.

Experts hope that landscape professionals can spread the message about defensible space and help stop the spread of wildfires. Leslie Lyles will use this information as when she talks to clients about their plants. "We can't control the weather, and we can't control the topography of our lands, but we can control the fuel source," Lyles said.

Written by Jennifer Burton

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