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Fire-resistant & Water-Wise

integrated design

Ready To Design for Firewise,
Water-Wise and Native?

Protect your home and neighborhood from wildfire threats with fire-resistant landscapes that are easy to maintain, reduce water use, enhance safety and look amazing.

Learn how water-wise solutions can help you conserve water, reduce your bills, and sustain your landscaping – and keep your yard looking well-loved – even in drought conditions. ​


Integrated Guidelines

Not sure where to start? Outlined below are the clearly established firewise guidelines that also incorporate water-wise, native and sustainable design elements.

Establish or evaluate your landscaping through the lens of the Home Ignition Zone (HIZ), the area around your property, divided up into three zones, including any structures, vegetation, and flammable material that can cause your home to ignite during a fire.

integrated guidelines

Firewise, Water-Wise and Native

Create a defensible, firewise space by exclusively using non-combustible materials like rock, gravel, concrete, or brick in this space.

Landscape with low-growing, well-spaced native and drought-tolerant plants that are regularly pruned to remain lean and green.

Choose native species that are both beautiful and offer an array of benefits including being crucial for ecological health, enhancing property values and reducing maintenance costs. They also enhance biodiversity, improve air quality, and combat pollution in our water sources.

Avoid unnecessary disturbance to soils to minimize weed germination.

Add additional hardscape elements like patios and boulders, and break up slopes with rock terrace gardens.

Minimize lawn areas to reduce water usage, and limit lawns to flat areas for efficient irrigation.

Try native shrub borders for hard-to-irrigate or narrow areas.

Add mulch to provide a protective cover that moderates soil temperature, and holds in moisture and prevents weeds from reaching the surface.

Remove all dead plant material and thin vegetation to reduce density, and ensure adequate space between all shrubs and trees to mitigate spreading and crown fires.

Choose native vegetation in this zone that’s low or moderately flammable.

Consistently check your property to catch and manage new weed growth.

3 easy ways to reduce fire hazards

Looking for more info on Firewise safety? Check out Big Sky Fire’s website.

consider your plant spacing

Maintain Spaces Between Plants

Proper plant spacing is imperative to designing a landscape that is fire-resistant, water-efficient and ecosystem-friendly. Consider the following for spacing within your landscape:

Tree Spacing

Leave 10-15 feet between tree crowns with increased spacing on slopes or areas with high winds to reduce the chance of fire jumping from one tree to another. 

Shrub Spacing

Keep a minimum of 5 feet between shrub clusters. Adjust distance based on height and growth habits of shrubs.

Vertical Spacing

Prune tree branches to create a clearance of 6 to 8 feet from the ground to prevent ground fires from climbing into tree canopies.


Group plants with similar water needs to create hydrozones for watering that meets the specific needs of each plant group.

For details on specific spacing between plants, download the Alpenscapes Landscaping Guidelines.

big sky water

5 Water Supply Drivers​

The water supply in Big Sky is influenced by a variety of interdependent factors. Each component plays a critical role in water availability and the quality of our drinking water. 

1.) Climate Variability
2.) Seasonal Snowpack
3.) Geographical Features
4.) Population Growth
5.) Agricultural Demand

Understanding these influences is essential for developing effective water management and sustainable landscaping strategies.

For more information on how to design and maintain a water efficient lawn, review the extensive Big Sky Water Wise Landscape Guide created by Gallatin River Task Force.

big sky soils

Understanding Soil Types

A healthy soil base is a key to a water-wise landscape. Two important factors that influence how soils store water are soil texture and organic matter. Learn more about how water naturally moves through your soil to help you improve soils and support plant growth.

Want more information on Big Sky soils? Download the Alpenscapes Landscaping Guidelines below.

ready to dig in?

The alpenscapes landscaping guidelines

Detailed information on everything from how to get started to how to maintain a thriving fire-safe, water-wise and ecosystem-friendly Big Sky landscape.

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