If your property is in Southern California, particularly in a fire-prone area, brush clearance is crucial for compliance with codes and reducing the risk of brush fires. The first step to clearing your property is determining what areas need to be cleared. However, determining what is required isn’t always clear.

The best thing to do is hire a professional landscaping company like Elite Tree Care, Los Angeles. We have years of experience providing comprehensive brush clearance services in Southern California and can help you get your property cleared up of brush quickly and affordably.

Clearing brush from around a house is usually the first thing that comes to mind when people think of brush clearance. This is one aspect of clearing your property for brush clearance for fire regulation near me. However, there is more to it than that. We will go over what is involved in brush clearance me for fire regulations and why it could be important to your home.

Video 1 – Brush Inspection Training – Target Hazards

Video 2 – Brush Clearance Training – On Site Inspections

Brush Clearance Requirements – Los Angeles Fire Department

Owners of property located in the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (VHFHSZ) shall maintain their property in accordance with the Fire Code (L.A.M.C. 57.322). Year-round compliance shall be maintained as described below on all native brush, weeds, grass, trees and hazardous vegetation within 200 feet of any structures/buildings, whether those structures are on the owner’s property or adjoining properties, and within 10 feet of any combustible fence or roadway/driveway used for vehicular travel.

  1. Maintain all weeds and grasses at a maximum height of 3 inches.

NOTE: Due to soil erosion, your Brush Clearance Unit does not require neither recommend the removal of roots nor the practice of raking the soil (cutting the vegetation down below the soil surface). The requirement is to maintain hazardous vegetation (brush/grass/weeds) at a maximum height of 3 inches.  

  1. Maintain the lower 1/3rd of trees and shrubs by removing all leafy foliage, twigs, and branches up to a maximum of 6 feet from the ground (i.e., any tree 18 feet or higher requires only 6 feet of clearance).

NOTE: This requirement does not apply to fruit trees, privacy hedges, and ornamental shrubbery (e.g., Italian cypress trees) provided they are well maintained and free of all dead and dry material.  

  1. Remove all dead trees and shrubs.
  2. Maintain 5 feet of vertical clearance between roof surfaces and portions of overhanging trees and shrubs (i.e., any overhanging foliage must be at least 5 feet above the roof).
  3. Remove any portion of a tree or shrub within 10-foot radius of a chimney outlet.
  4. Maintain the roofs of all structures free of leaves, needles, twigs and other combustible matter.
  5. Remove all dead/dry undergrowth and material within trees and shrubs to include all dead or dry palm fronds/branches.
  6. Once brush clearance is conducted, remove and safely dispose of all cut or bagged vegetation, all dead trees and all debris. This includes all combustible junk, trash or debris that may be on your property, regardless of how it got there. Combustible debris may include, but is not limited to, paper trash, cardboard boxes, household trash, fabric/clothing, plastic, rubber/tires, or piles of yard waste. 
  7. Cut vegetation may be machine processed (chipped) and spread as ground cover (mulch) so it does not exceed 3 inches in depth within 30 feet of structures and no more than 6 inches in depth 30+ feet from structures/buildings. Machine processed/chipped material shall not be placed within 10 feet of combustible fences or road surfaces.
  8. Trim Native shrubs/brush so foliage is removed from lower third up to a maximum of 6 feet. Native shrubs shall not exceed 216 cubic feet in volume and shall be spaced not less than 3 times its maximum height but not less than 18 feet from other native shrubs, structures, and combustible material.

NOTE: Native Shrubs/Brush are indigenous plants that mostly grow wild without any watering or care. High Energy Release Shrubs/Brush include, but are not limited to, Junipers, Spanish or Scotch Broom, Manzanita, Service Berry, Mountain Mahogany/Whitethorn, Sage, and Rabbit Brush, and as determined by the Fire Chief.  

  1. Maintain all other landscape vegetation, including, but not limited to, conifers (e.g., cedar, cypress, fir, juniper, and pine), eucalyptus, acacia, palm and pampas grass in such a condition as not to provide an available fuel supply to augment the spread or intensity of a fire or impede egress of emergency vehicles. This includes trimming up and removing all dead and dry material as required above.
  2. Firewood shall be located 30 feet away from any structure or shall be completely enclosed within a fire resistive closed container (L.A.M.C. Sec. 4906.3.3).
  3. Trim back vegetation and maintain 3 feet radius clearance around fire hydrants (L.A.M.C. Sec. 57.507.5).
  4. Vegetation/branches extending past curb and over the street shall be trimmed back to the curb line and up a minimum of 14 feet vertically from the roadway surface to the lowest overhanging branch to provide clearance for emergency vehicles (L.A.M.C. Sec. 57.503.1). 

NOTE: Vegetation/branches extending over the sidewalk shall also be trimmed up a minimum of 9 feet vertically from the sidewalk surface to the lowest overhanging branch so as not to obstruct or interfere with the free passage of pedestrians (L.A.M.C. Sec. 56.08).  

Source – Clearance Requirements, Los Angeles Fire Department  https://vms3.lafd.org/ 

If you own or operate a business in Southern California you may be required to comply with these brush clearance rules as part of your city’s fire prevention program. Failure to comply could result in fines and even loss of insurance coverage if your home or business suffers damage due to fire hazards near it. To protect your home or business from the threat of wildfires, you need to comply with the brush clearance requirements.
If you’re looking for quality brush clearance services in Southern California, look no further than our team of landscape experts. We offer a variety of services, including tree removal and brush clearance. We at Elite Tree Care are one of the leading landscape contractors in Southern California. Contact us today to schedule an inspection of your property.