Firewise Demonstration Garden

The MT City fire wise garden is an example of TCFSWG’s efforts to demonstrate methods to reduce risks to the home ignition zone. Fire wise 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 “fire wise” 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.

Site prior to construction.
Year-3 Summer 2023



A partnership germinates

In 2020 a partnership was established with the Montana City Volunteer Fire Department to construct a fire wise landscape garden at fire station 1, just north of the round-about at the Mt. City exit off I-15.  Start-up funding was provided by Jefferson County, the Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation (DNRC), and the US Forest Service (USFS).

Irrigation installation
Landscape fabric- weed barrier installation

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 site amenities were designed to be handicap accessible.  

Installing decomposed granite for walking path
Irritation and planting area preparation
Planting area preparation
Walking path and planting area


the garden takes root!

During the spring and summer of 2022 irrigation, landscaping and the first phase of planting was completed. 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 fire wise vegetation that is available to use in this region of Montana. The garden was designed and planted to demonstrate that an effective landscape design includes well-spaced plants with low-flammability characteristics, surrounded by a non-flammable material like stone mulch. 

Many hands make light work when community volunteers come together!
Community volunteers and representatives from the MT DNRC and US Forest Service assist with tree planting.
The trees were donated from the MT DNRC Urban Forestry Program


Spring kicked off a busy season at the garden. The final garden bed, was constructed. Native plants and rocks were used for the new crevice garden, demonstrating how non-irrigated, native plants can be very attractive. 

The summer months were spent weeding and replacing some plants that died over the winter.  Four interpretive signs were installed and garden brochures were made available for the public.  In September, construction on the Sonny Stiger Memorial Pavilion began through the generous volunteer efforts of Abraham Construction and a generous donation from the Wolf Creek Cattle Company and TrueNorth Steel. 

Construction of the pavilion is expected to be completed by winter.

                 Click Watch On YouTube                       below to access video.    

The pavilion utilizes ignition resistant materials, which help reduce a home’s chance of ignition from direct flame, firebrand showers, and radiant heat.

Crevice Garden construction

A special thank you to the Helena Central Lands Office DNRC and the USFS fire crews for lending their time and muscle to assist with moving gravel, rock and digging a ditch.

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)

Latex in leaves

Rabbitbrush (Ericameria)

Soap in leaves

Sweet William (Dianthus)