Protecting Your Home From Mudslides

When mudslides happen, they cause a trail of destruction. This natural phenomenon causes loss of property and sometimes life. Even though it’s pretty much impossible to prevent mudslides, there are measures and precautions you can take to reduce the chances of damage.


Proper vegetation is one of the best ways to prevent the occurrence of mudslides. Especially strong-rooted trees because the roots tend to hold loose soil together, helping to reduce the chances of it being swept away. The downside to using trees as your mechanism for defense is that if the rushing water is strong enough, it could sweep the trees up and make them incredibly dangerous debris.

It’s also important to remember that this vegetation must be alive and healthy to provide you with any assistance, dead plants and trees will be swept up in the rush of water.

Retaining Walls

A humanmade solution to mudslides is retaining walls. These constructed walls will help to stop water from entering your property and then divert it out and away from your land. You can make a retaining wall out of brick, stone, concrete or steel and you can find these materials at almost any home improvement store.

Make sure that when building your wall you have a clear path cut out for the water to flow otherwise the water will build up and flow over your wall, possibly bringing other debris with it.


As a more temporary solution to stop water flow and mudslides, you can use sandbags. Sandbags are what you would expect, a burlap bag filled with sand to block and to divert water flow. Try placing them in front of doorways, garages, or driveways as a last resort to keep water from getting into your home. Sandbags can be found at your local home improvement store or local fire station.


Another method for preventing unwanted water flow is by digging channels around your property for the water to flow through. However, be careful of where you are directing the water because if the water is directed at a neighbors property and this causes damage, you could be found liable for it.

Warning signs

One of the best ways to keep your home safe is to educate yourself on the warning signs of a mudslide. If notice any of the following then take action to prevent your home from being damaged.

  • If a fire has recently impacted you-you're at a much greater risk for mudslides or landslides

  • Changes in water drainage on slopes

  • Cracks appearing in brick or foundation

  • Tilting in fences, retaining walls, utility poles or trees

  • Prediction of heavy storms

One of the most vulnerable areas are typically the ones that have recently been affected by wildfires. Fires kill all of the vegetation, which as we stated earlier, makes the plant useless as a defense mechanism.

Wildfires also leave behind what’s known as a “burn scar.” This is a layer of land that is charred by the flames; this “scar” prevents water from being able to make it’s way into the soil, so the water has nowhere to flow except downhill.

Areas affected by fires can sometimes feel these repercussions for years to come while the vegetation grows back. In cases like these, it’s important for homeowners in the affected areas to remain on high alert whenever there is a rain prediction.

If you live in one of the areas that were recently impacted by a wildfire contact your local fire department for sandbags and other resources and information on how to prepare your home and property for mudslides.

While we don’t get too much rain in Southern California it can cause severe damage to hillsides and homes, so be alert and prepare your home for the rush of water. Contact the Los Angeles County Fire Department by phone or visit our website for more information.