Home Food & Cooking Fire-safe landscaping lessons from a garden destroyed by wildfires

Fire-safe landscaping lessons from a garden destroyed by wildfires


After a wildfire wiped out much of the protective madrones in the forest below this stunning Mork Ulnes–designed property—and charred much of the garden and main residence—Surfacedesign came in to assess the damage and replant. “The pool area mostly survived the fire, since the concrete walls acted as a firebreak,” says principal Michal Kapitulnik. The landscaping is a mixture of pink muhly and deergrass, which captures light and moves with the wind. They’re accented with more structural agave groupings. A sound and wind barrier became a priority because many of the large trees and shrubs that surrounded the home had been lost.

Marion Brenner

“Salvaged olive trees and newly added Arbutus x ‘Marina’ [strawberry trees] provided shade and scale to the newly exposed hillside post-fire,” Kapitulnik says. Acacias were taking over the driveway entrance. “After we eradicated the invasives, we established a palette of native shrubs including manzanitas and ‘Davis Gold’ toyon with oak trees,” she adds. With the newly exposed slope, erosion control was also an issue. Surfacedesign’s team used native grasses, flowers and plants to help secure the hillside ….

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