DO YOU KNOW YOUR BAL?
Do you know your BAL?
If you live in a rural and/or highly vegetated area you may well be aware of your BAL (Bushfire Attack Level).
If you are thinking of building in a vegetated area (including grassland) BAL needs to be one of your first considerations as to will it affect you and, if so, how will it affect you?
The Australian Building Standard AS3959-2018 uses a locations BAL to determine building requirements designed to improve a dwellings resistance to bushfire attack.
There are five categories of BAL from low to extreme risk and as the risk increases so do the building constraints.
AS3959-2018 deals (as you would expect) with BAL classification and the design, materials and construction for each classification.
Landscaping is not covered in the Standard.
But that’s not to say there aren’t decent guidelines that can’t be followed.
For instance, here in Queensland the Government in conjunction with CSIRO have produced an excellent publication titled ‘Bushfire Resilient Building Guidance for Queensland Homes’.
They devote a whole section to bushfire resilient landscaping and it’s way too comprehensive to go through in any detail here but they encourage people to use natives where possible and choose species with ‘favourable flammability characteristics’.
And at the very top of the list of preferred species of shrubs to plant is Aloes.
(Nb. This list is not alphabetical, just so you know!)
Why is that?
Because of the high water content contained in the leaves.
This makes Aloe-Aloe® hybrid Aloes (particularly the large varieties) excellent options for landscape planting in bushfire prone areas. The high water content makes the plants truly low-combustibility options.
The only proviso I would add is that consideration be given to winter temperatures.
Hybrid Aloe-Aloes® are born and bred at altitude in South Africa where light morning frosts occur and temperatures to -5C are experienced.
If your temperature lows in winter are in that range then we would recommend the larger* Aloe Aloe® varieties (refer Hybrid Aloe comparison chart under Hybrid Aloe section of website).
*as a generalisation, the larger varieties handle frost better than smaller