Defensible Space is the area around a structure where combustible vegetation that can fuel wildfire has been cleared, reduced or replaced. This space acts as a barrier between a structure and an advancing fire.

 In January 2005, California State law extended the defensible space clearance around homes and structures from 30 feet to 100 feet, which substantially increases the chance of your property surviving a wildfire. This law requires the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to develop the regulation for a new ember-resistant zone (Zone 0) within 0 to 5 feet of the home by January 1, 2023. This practice also increases firefighter safety during wildland fires.

In order to successfully create defensible space around your property you need to learn about the three different zones that measure from 0 feet out to the 100 feet from any building.

Zone 0 – Ember Resistant Zone

Zone 0 is defined as the first five feet around your home. The strategy in this zone is to reduce the chance of wind-blown embers igniting materials near your home.  Choosing products like rock, gravel and concrete and not storing firewood/lumber or combustibles is critical.


Zone 1 – Lean, Clean and Green Zone

Zone 1 is five to thirty feet from your home, and the strategy is to create a landscape that will not readily transmit fire to the home.  In this zone there should not be any shrubs under trees, trees need to be pruned and remove dead vegetation.  Trailers/RV’s and combustible structures should be removed from this zone or have a defensible space for several feet surrounding.

Zone 2 – Reduce Fuel Zone

In Zone 2, the thirty to one hundred feet surrounding your home, the goal is to reduce the energy and speed of wildfire. You must remove dead plant materials and tree branches, thin and separate trees and shrubs, limb up trees and remove shrubs that can serve as ladder fuel.

Understanding the three zones is extremely important for making sure you are prepared and is why our Defensible Space teams are here to assist in protecting your investment property. With a combination of 40+ years living and working in the High Sierras, Elements is a D-49* licensed contractor with a team of professional Firewise landscape, Defensible Space and Tree Service experts ready to keep wildfire damage to a minimum.


For more information on creating defensible space contact us today to set up a consultation.


TAHOE LIVING WITH FIRE is a collaborative education and outreach program, founded in 1997 by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and supported by members of the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team. This website is managed cooperatively by the Tahoe Resource Conservation District and University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Learn more about us and this collaborative program.