Firewise Demonstration Garden

In 2020, TCFSWG broke ground on an exciting project! In partnership with the Montana City Volunteer Fire Department, TCFSWG began construction of a Firewise landscape demonstration garden at fire station 1, just north of the round-about. This garden showcases plant and landscape designs that can be used to lessen wildfire damage to properties in fire-prone areas.

Start-up grant funding was provided by Jefferson County, the Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation, and the US Forest Service (USFS).

Firewise practices include the use of construction materials, landscape design and vegetation that lower wildfire risk around a home. The plants selected for this project are “Firewise” or fire resistant, meaning they are less flammable than others and just happen to be drought tolerant and deer resistant! The primary goal of the project is to demonstrate that less flammable vegetation can create attractive landscaping and inspire the property owners to consider fire and drought mitigation at their homes.

In 2021, the approximately one-half acre of land west of the fire station was prepped by removing the existing crested wheatgrass and reworking the soil. Irrigation, a concrete border, landscaping fabric, decorative rock and a decomposed granite pathway were installed. The pathway and future site amenities are designed to be handicap accessible. Future amenities will include building a pavilion, installation of interpretive signs and benches, plant identification markers, and on-going maintenance. As funds and labor become available, trees and shrubs will be planted outside the concrete barrier and irrigation will be extended to the outlying plants. We will be relying on volunteers and donors to help with these future improvements.

During the spring and summer of 2022 planting, irrigation, and landscaping was completed, demonstrating that an effective landscape design includes well-spaced plants with low-flammability characteristics, surrounded by a non-flammable material like stone mulch. Over 52 flowering plants, 21 shrubs, and 10 trees were planted. A large variety of plants were planted to better demonstrate the wide range of firewise vegetation that is available to use in this region of Montana.

Photos Caption: Volunteers and agency partners assisted in planting efforts. In the spring, Helena’s DNRC’s Last Chance Helitack Crew and the DNRC Urban Forestry & Assistance program manager assisted with the donation and planting of 13 trees.

Firewise plants often

  • Have a higher moisture content during summer
  • Have little seasonal buildup of dead vegetation
  • Have little seasonal buildup of dead vegetation
  • Are high in soap, pectin, and/or latex
  • Have a low, compact growth form
  • Are low in volatile oils and resins
  • Are drought tolerant

Keep It Lean & Green

  • Choose plants that use less water.
  • Choose plants that are naturally smaller in size.
  • Keep grasses well-watered and mowed.
  • Remove dead branches and weeds, thin trees, and prune perennials.
  • Choose plants that do not drop a lot


Low growing groundcover

Ice plant (Delosperma)

Soap in leaves

Sweet William (Dianthus)

Latex in leaves

Rabbitbrush (Ericameria)