UNCE natural resource specialist Ed Smith found that shredded rubber, pine needles and shredded western red cedar demonstrated the “the most hazardous fire behavior,” while composted wood chips produced only incidental flaming and smoldering.
Mulches are used to conserve water and control weeds, Smith said, but certain types of mulch will endanger homes during a wildfire, when embers can travel great distances ahead of the main blaze.
A free publication detailing the results of the study, “The Combustibility of Landscape Mulches,” is now available through Cooperative Extension’s Living With Fire program. The new publication provides recommendations on how to safely use mulches in residential landscapes.
Researchers established plots of eight different mulch treatments, and after exposing them to summer weather for two and a half months, the plots were ignited and evaluated.
A free copy of the study is available by calling University of Nevada Cooperative Extension at 784-4848 or downloading it at LivingWithFire.info.