Amid the catastrophic wildfire in Maui, one “miracle house” emerged unscathed thanks to an innovative design choice that made it resistant to flames.
In August, a rapidly moving fire engulfed the town of Lāhainā in Maui, Hawaiʻi, destroying as much as 80% of the buildings and causing countless unspeakable tragedies. One house, however, survived as a beacon of hope — and its lack of damage came from a particular landscaping and architectural design that protected it from the surrounding fire.
According to Popular Mechanics, the so-called “miracle house” was primarily protected by its three-foot-wide stretch of river rock that surrounds the building. The home’s owners supposedly installed the river rock to stop the foundation of the house from being affected by the wet runoff that comes with watering traditional landscaping.
Installing river rocks or other kinds of stones in a yard helps prevent plants from growing where homeowners don’t desire any flora, as the stones take up space that cannot be occupied by greenery.
For this reason, landscaping using rocks and stones is one of the primary ways that alternative landscapers control the growth in a garden, and thereby limit the amount of water a home needs to feed its plants by limiting the number of plants overall.
These stones also provided protection from the fire because stones cannot combust in the way that grass or other plants can. Popular Mechanics also noted that since watering grass is expensive, dried-out grass is becoming increasingly common — and it’s a massive fire hazard, as it’s easily combustible. Drought-tolerant plants that many people have used to replace their grass, on the other hand, cannot feed flames as easily.
As such, the combination of rock-heavy landscaping and drought-tolerant grass alternatives can help protect your property from wildfires by giving the flames less space and fuel to expand — and can also save homeowners on their monthly water bills by using less hydration to keep plants healthy.
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