Back Yard Bliss

The backyard of this house was a no-man’s land when the owners moved in. With little more than a few established trees and a big, noisy air-conditioning unit, the yard was an almost open canvas bordering the Los Padres National Forest in a high-fire zone. We installed a large infiltration swale to capture as much rainfall as possible from the house rain gutters, so the water can be stored in the soil where plants can access it, reducing the amount of irrigation this landscape needs. Plantings obscure the air-conditioning unit, and a water feature was installed so the sound of trickling water would drown-out its sound. The plants we chose are drought tolerant and attractive to native birds and insects. We paid special attention to the plantings nearest to the house, keeping them fairly low growing as to not create a fire ladder beneath the eves. The plants also hold a good deal of moisture in their stems and leaves and are easily kept free of desiccated material, making them fire-wise plants that can actually reduce the chances of the property burning in the event of a nearby wildfire.