This garden keeps wildlife in, and wildfires out

Birds and chipmunks feel right at home in this miniature oasis amid the dry chaparral of the Santa Cruz Mountains. A natural-looking pond surrounded by granite boulders, a low wall, and pockets of native and Mediterranean plants create a lush sanctuary for the wildlife. The design also addresses a very practical issue: the threat of wildfires.

Landscape architect Steve Sutherland needed to maintain a vegetation-free, 75-foot buffer zone for fire safety, but the space was a potential eyesore from the house. His solution was to edge the garden area with a dual-purpose wall to obscure the buffer zone from the house and provide a spot to sit and enjoy the views. An arched opening at the base of one wall ensures that quail continue to stop by.

To encourage visits from a wide variety of birds, a large portion of the garden area surrounding the pond was left unpaved. The colored concrete in the pond complements the golden sandy soil. Jurors applauded Sutherland’s simple, yet highly creative design. “It’s very original,” remarked a juror.

DESIGNER: Steve Sutherland, SSA Landscape Architects, Santa Cruz, CA (831/459-0455)

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