Little green gas cans |

Little green gas cans

Ed Smith and Claudene Wharton
For the Nevada Appeal

Firefighters often refer to ornamental junipers as “little green gas cans.”

“During a wildfire, embers can smolder undetected within and underneath ornamental juniper shrubs,” explains Ed Smith, natural resource specialist, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. “The junipers then ignite and burn intensely, often after firefighters have already left the property.”

Smith says that planting junipers next to the house is never a good idea, and that they should be kept at least 30 feet away. If you have junipers near your house, Smith recommends replacing them with low-growing deciduous shrubs, herbaceous flowers, rock mulches, or hard surfaces.

Smith and colleague JoAnne Skelly, Carson City/Storey County extension educator, recently published, “Choosing the Right Plants for Northern Nevada’s High Fire Hazard Areas.” You can obtain a free copy of this guide containing good plant choices for high fire hazard areas at your local Cooperative Extension office.

You can also pull out your junipers and exchange them for a free 5-gallon replacement plant at Moana Nurseries in Reno (both the Moana Lane and S. Virginia locations), 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 20. There will be 50 free plants available at each location. Each household may receive one free plant.


To learn more about protecting your home from the threat of wildfire, visit or contact Smith at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, 782-9960 or e-mail Smith at:

Living With Fire is an interagency program coordinated by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.