Hedge Blaze highlights why homeowners want to remove cedars and junipers from their gardens – Kelowna News

Cindy White

It was a frightening sight, especially for the local residents.

A cedar hedge went up in flames in minutes on Monday at the corner of Highway 33 and Molnar Road.

You see similar noise barriers and hedges all over the city, but they just don’t fit in the hot, dry climate of Central Okanagan.

“They contain a lot of volatile oils, so they burn very hot,” says city ranger Tara Bergeson.

“Especially cedar and juniper, collect a lot of dead material inside. So that can essentially work like a match, where you have the oils on the outside for the starter and then burn very easily.”

She says it’s a great example of why you should proactively remove the plants, whenever possible to FireSmart your property.

Earlier this year, the City of Kelowna took a proactive approach on its own land by removing cedars, junipers and other shrubs and plants that pose a fire hazard. It also offered a free FireSmart community chipping trial program to homeowners in areas where crews were working to clear firewood.

“In the roughly two-and-a-half months that we’ve been running the program, we’ve collected just under 100 tons of hazardous material from homes,” Bergeson says.

Bergeson adds that a fire-rated privacy fence is the best option, but if you want to replace the cedars or junipers with other shrubs, consider something native to this part of North America.

“You can look at things like a native plant called Oregon grape. It can get quite high and get quite dense. Barberry family is another option, boxwood and California lilac are all options that can work within what we call our plant hardiness zone. So with our climate, with our weather,” she explains.

Bergeson hopes to relaunch the community chip program next year and expand it to even more communities in Kelowna.

Details of the program and other FireSmart tips can be found here.

Leave a Comment