The threat of wildfire is never far from our thoughts these days. We Californians know all too well the damage that years of extreme drought have done to our natural landscapes. Residential areas, too. Trees and smaller plants are literally tinder dry from ongoing lack of water, and in poor health as a result of the constant stress. How can you protect your event venue from the threat of fire?
Plant artificial grass.
No kidding. Artificial grass can help save your event venue in the event of a wildfire. Let us explain.
Natural Lawn Grass Can Catch Fire
A big lawn is often a focal point at event venues, perhaps the “main event” when it comes to square footage for the activities you host. You spend a mint keeping it green and seemingly healthy, assuming it will naturally keep fire at bay. Unfortunately, a hot wildfire can ignite your lawn even if it is green. It will take a little longer than igniting dry grass, because the heat from the fire first has to dry the moisture within the blades. But it doesn’t take long, then whoosh – off and running!
Another factor? Clippings from mowing that aren’t captured by the bagging process settle at the base of the grass, forming thatch. We all know that, but most of us don’t automatically associate thatch with fuel. In fact, as the thatch decomposes, it becomes an even greater fuel source.
Fire officials around the state have been begging property owners to create a “defensible space” around structures. That includes keeping tall trees or other combustibles a certain distance away. Lawn is a good choice for that space instead, because it hugs the ground rather than giving fire a chance to shoot upward. But not just any lawn. One of the key official recommendations is to replace any existing turf with fire-resistant ground cover.
Artificial Grass Does Not Burn
Top quality fake grass is made from synthetic polymers – a type of plastic. If the grass gets hot enough, it will melt, but it cannot flame up or actively burn. Infill that is composed of sand or other inert materials increases the turf’s fire-resistance and can even help snuff out a fire.
For hosting fire-smart events as well as protecting your artificial grass, you’ll want to keep grills and firepits away from the turf, on or surrounded by a hardscape surface. You should also forbid smoking on your faux grass, although these days, most venue managers no longer allow smoking anywhere outdoors because of the extreme environmental fire risk.
Artificial Grass Helps Increase Soil Moisture
Fake grass is actually much more efficient than the real thing when it comes to water retention. Rainfall is directed into the soil, not down the road or into some storm drain as runoff that travels away from the area. Retaining moisture replenishes the soil and refills aquifers needed to sustain healthy, moist plant life. It also supports the diverse nutrients present in healthy soil. Plants with optimal water content make poor fuels compared to their water-starved cousins.
Artificial turf also prevents erosion. Erosion not only carries away needed water, it carries away topsoil, which acts as a sort of natural mulch for underlying soil layers. Preventing erosion can significantly reduce the risk of post-fire flooding – something else we’ve seen time and time again here in northern (and southern) California.
Surround Your Faux Grass with a Fully Firewise Landscape
Have you reviewed your entire property with an eye toward fire-resistance? No plant is fireproof, but some varieties of trees, shrubs, and perennials have adapted so they can thrive on minimal moisture and efficiently retain the moisture they do get. They are naturally drought-tolerant and better able to fend off fire. Using these plants in your landscape can significantly lower your water usage as well as help protect your event venue.