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‘Fire-safe Landscaping’

‘Fire-safe Landscaping’, to quote the Western Cape Disaster Management, is the new buzzword, for creating defensible space between your home and flammable vegetation. Should a fire reach your property within 3 -10 m of your house, due to prevailing winds or the height of the flames? You could inevitably, lose your property. One of the benefits of aloes, planted in your garden, and acts as a barrier. All aloes hold moisture in their fleshy leaves, enabling them to resist the flames and slow down the spreading of fires, due to their fire-resistant qualities. As they do not contain any resin or produce any oils, as some trees and other plants do.

Your first line of defense against a fire is your boundary. Planting rambling/multi-stemmed aloes such as ‘Lady Pink’, ‘Topaz’ or ‘Vinkel’, as they have the dense compact growth habit, slowing down the fire, or can stop spreading grass fires.

  • Plant your chosen aloes on mass, a minimum of 0.5 m wide, along your boundary, to create a barrier slowing down the fire.

  • Secondly, by planting different aloe beds between your boundary and your house. You are creating an effective breakup of your lawn. Slowing down the spreading of the fire.

  • Thirdly, planting aloes within 1.5 -3 m around your house, act as a second barrier, slowing down any fire that has jumped. Here you can create a berm, layering the different aloes in accordance you’re your own personal style and choice. Adding stones/rocks, into your berm and landscape design. Instead of using bark mulch or dried leaves, as these are combustible, and will only fuel the fire. Using a selection of different sizes aloes, as if you would be layering a cake.

PHOTO Courtesy of Aloe-Aloe – aloes acting as a fire barrier.

The Sunbird Aloes range offers different stemless aloes, of a similar growth form. And can be used for dense planting of a firebreak. The leaf rosettes are borne close to the ground so that the stems are short or absent. Forming dense clusters in mature specimens, that are very distinctive and showy. The aloes below, when planted on mass, as a firebreak, on a berm, or as an individual bed. Break up the flammable area of your lawn and slow the fire down.

Aloe ‘Apricot’

Pinkish-orange-colored flowers are carried on upright racemes and branched inflorescences, sometimes as many as 7 during the flower season, which centers on the colder months.

The plant is renowned for its long flower period and will have its first flower as a very young plant. It will reach its full flowering potential about 5 years after the first flower, by which time it can already have grown a short stem.

(‘Apricot’, planted on the left of this firebreak)