When fall arrives, you'll realize as you're raking leaves on your Sacramento property that nature is a part of where you live. But weather and nature have historically been important to Sacramento, too. The Sacramento River forms the city's western border. Floods, fires, and earthquakes have formed its landscapes over the years. What does that have to do with you? While you can't stop a natural event from hitting, you can take measures like planting wisely and removing leaves to control damage.
The First Floods
As Sacramento became more developed over the years, it became prone to destruction from natural events. The first major flood hit the city around 1850. Heavy rainfall from a coastal storm caused the Sacramento and American rivers to breach their banks. This caused widespread water damage to surrounding infrastructure. Especially hard hit was the Embarcadero, which was a significant center for business. Sadly, the storm took the district by surprise, destroying much of the merchandise that was not secured. This caused a tremendous economic setback. In light of this event, the city's first mayor (Hardin Bigelow) was elected based on his promise to build infrastructure such as dams and levees to avert future floods. This strategy worked, and an equally menacing rainstorm later that year left far less of an impact on the city. The minimal damage was credited to Bigelow's infrastructure development.
Then Came the Fires
Ironically, around the same time water threatened to destroy Sacramento, fire also posed a threat. The first fire hit the city around 1850. A series of successive fires plagued the city through the 1860s. In addition to the city itself, the fires moved into the Sacramento Valley. Due to the discovery of the city's fire department that vegetation could play a role in the fire's fate, the fire department soon implemented a plan to remove fire-prone vegetation and replace it with trees, flowers, and shrubs that were less likely to catch fire quickly.
The Great Earthquake
Another natural event that shaped the city and its history was the Great Earthquake of 1906. This earthquake, which struck on April 18, 1906, was one of the largest and most devastating on record. With a length of nearly 300 miles, it is one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded. The earthquake's aftershocks were felt as far away as San Francisco, where it caused structural damage and started a massive fire. In Sacramento, the devastating earthquake had a death toll of over 700 people. It caused insurmountable infrastructure damage too, leaving thousands of residents homeless and many businesses out of commission.
The city's climate was partially responsible for the fire outbreaks. Temporary weather systems caused its devastating flooding. Today, Sacramento has a relatively warm and dry climate. Its summers are warmer and drier than in most locations, which means there is still a risk of fire. The warmest month on average is July, which has an average high temperature of 92ºF in July. August is nearly as warm, with an average high temperature of 91ºF. These two months, along with September, also receive the lowest amounts of rain during the year. Winters, in contrast, are cooler and characterized by more precipitation. November gets about two inches of rain annually, while December has about three inches of rainfall. Although Sacramento's winters are generally cool and wet, temperatures rarely ever drop to the freezing level.
How Your Yard Can Help
Today, Sacramento is still prone to natural disasters such as fires. But as a conscientious homeowner, you can help mitigate damage by planting trees in your yard that are native, fire-resistant, and attractive. These are some of your best options.
Oak trees are one of the most common trees in California. They are hardy, adapted to the climate, and can grow to impressive heights. Three species are native to Sacramento: live oak, interior oak, and blue oak. Blue oaks are the largest of the three species. All types have a long lifespan, sometimes hundreds of years. A neat fact about blue oaks is that they tend to emerge in post-flood areas. This is because they enjoy the deep, wet, nutritious soils left by dried riverbeds. So if you live in a flood-prone area, this is an excellent tree to consider. Also notable is that oaks are deciduous and hold large volumes of water. Both qualities also make them fire-resistant.
California's redwood trees are an important part of its identity. They're also a top choice for creating a fire-resistant yard. Redwood trees are prominent in the coastal forests of Northern California. They can grow to great heights and live to be hundreds or thousands of years old. Redwoods are an excellent choice for a fire-resistant landscape plan because of their thick bark and high water content.
There are nearly 130 species of maple in North America. If you have one in your yard, you'll be able to identify it by the brilliant leaves it produces in the fall, which range in color from yellow and orange to bright red. Maple trees also have a distinct five-pronged leaf that looks like a human hand. Maple trees are deciduous, which means that they lose their leaves in the fall. While this means you'll have to remove leaves from your yard, it also means you'll be reducing the local fire risk.
Dogwood trees are also deciduous. They are relatively small, flowering trees, which makes them popular ornamental trees for decorative landscapes. The leaves of the dogwood tree also turn beautiful colors in autumn.
It might not seem like much, but the trees in your yard and the way you manage them can actually prevent fires from spreading. In addition to having fire-resistant species in your yard, be sure to remove leaves after the last ones fall. Removing excess debris from the yard, especially if it's dry, significantly reduces the risk of fires. Also, consider spreading mulch on dry patches to lower the risk of fire. If you need help with your leaf removal, Lawn Love can provide convenient, professional services at an affordable rate.