LAFD Station 74 Garden

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:

  • A local business donated services & excavation equipment was used to grade the slope, remove old tree stumps and roots and dig a large hole for a new tree.
  • Local hardware stores and landscape supply houses onated of copper & pvc piping and plumbing supplies and the labor to install piping and plumbing systems.
  • A local tree company donated a 36” box native oak was donated from a local tree company.
  • The Fire Heavy Rescue Truck & Crew also volunteered time – they lifted the tree into the new location.
  • Several tons of 18” and 6” granite landscape cobbles, used to edge the slope, create a dry river, and retain the soil, were donated and delivered to the site from a local masonry yard.
    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.

    LA Fire Wise Gardens

    The Sunland-Tujunga community at the far north east of the San Fernando Valley experiences high, dry heat and is wrapped in fire-prone foothills. The community has taken steps to mitigate its fire danger.

    In addition to the rewilding of the Sunland Welcome Nature Garden, the garden at Los Angeles Fire Department Station 74 models an optimally fire-wise landscape aesthetic and beautifies an industrial segment of Foothill Boulevard. The highly sloped garden includes a young native oak, a dry river to direct water, and a mix of low-maintenance, fire-wise native foliage.

    The garden was then-sixteen year old Travis Whitcomb’s Eagle Scout project. Whitcomb noticed the barren area and committed to providing the fire fighters with a beautiful, easy to maintain space. He also aimed to provide the Sunland-Tujunga community with a model for fire-wise landscaping. Whitcomb harnessed the goodwill of community members from throughout Sunland-Tujunga, including FormLA Landscaping, to design and install the garden.

    Follow FormLA Landscaping’s board Fire-Wise Plant Palette on Pinterest.

    Spring 2017

    In the spring of 2017, with two years of growth and a year of adequate rain, the New Look for LA is really strutting its stuff!


    Photos by Lesly Hall Photography

    Winter 2016 in the Center Circle

    The New Look for LA stays lush, leafy and vibrant year round. As the foliage chosen is authentic to the area or from one of the five LA-climate compatible regions of the country, the garden established quickly. These photos were taken during the winter of 2015-2016, less than one year after installation.

    Photos by Orly Olivier

    Installation April 2015

    See photos of the garden at the time of its installation in the Los Angeles Times, the La Canada Valley SunPasadena Star News, MSN. See in-garden interviews with Descanso Gardens leaders and FormLA Landscaping designers on ABC and CBS.


    See more photos on the New Look for LA Pinterest Board.