Los Angeles Fire Department Station 74 sits at the epicenter of 2017’s La Tuna and Creek Fires, which sparked multiple resident and business evacuations. It sits in the heart of Sunland-Tujunga Foothill Boulevard business district, where it serves as a highly visible example of fire-wise landscaping.
A Community Unites to Support LAFD
Not long ago, the LAFD Station 74 garden was a barren 1,800 square foot planter at the front of the station. The department left the space unplanted for many years due to the extensive scope of work required to improve it.
While barren space may seem low maintenance, it can can attract invasive, flammable foliage. Obviously not a good look for a fire station! As a result, firefighters were spending time doing a great deal of weeding without getting the benefit of beauty for their work.
Travis Whitcomb, just 16 years old at the time, highly values the services LAFD provides ito the Sunland-Tujunga community. Noticing the barren space and the work it created, Travis saw the opportunity to show his gratitude by providing beauty while lessening the work it would take for the firefighters and paramedics to maintain it.
Whitcomb worked with landscaping experts, including his father and nearby businesses, to create a plan for a low to no maintenance garden. Nearby FormLA Landscaping created site plans nd a sustainable landscape design that reflected the nearby native mountain and slope vegetation. Special care was given to designing a garden that would need no overhead watering, little maintenance, and demonstrate fire wise plantings.
The team defined and refined a scope of work , and the Sunland-Tujunga community jumped in to support the project. For example:
Whitcomb was able to obtain financial donations to purchase more than 70 native plants, and on the day of the planting more than 50 volunteers from the local LDS church, dedicated scout supporters, and enthusiastic members of the community showed up to help.
Landscape and irrigation experts provided instruction and community volunteers installed the low-flow, subsurface drip irrigation line and planted the new, native foliage. All the irrigation lines and planting were topped with a thick thick layer of mulch. With this support from the Sunland-Tujunga community installation was completed in less than 5 hours!
LAFD Maintains a Lush, Low-Water, Fire-Wise Garden
Whitcomb’s work, and the ongoing work of LAFD Station 74, have created a head-turning garden of vibrant beauty in the middle of Foothill Boulevard’s most industrial stretch.
LAFD Station 74 now maintains this lush, leafy, red-white-and-blue blooming space. Three years in, the weeding work is minimal, as the garden is so full of beauty, weeds have a hard time finding their place! Each year, more and more of the work will be shaded as the oak tree’s canopy expands.