Sunday, July 7, 2013

I am SO not qualified for this challenge...

For the short of attention, span-wise:
Thinking about landscaping around our home,
which is on a 5 acre rural lot,
but now that our house came w/in
1 mi of burning down via Carstens Fire,
my husband's repeated desire to adhere to
Cal Fire's 100-foot-clearance-around-your-house thing
is no longer met with my bored sighs and rolling eyes.

Our backyard not long before we were evacuated.

Air quality in our yard:
(w/apologies to those who already saw this in the fire posts)


How do I landscape in a water-stingy
eco-friendly (conservation biologist, after all),
gets-mega-hot & is ALWAYS DRY all summer,
deer-and-rabid-gopher-proof kinda way,
when I canna plant anything w/in 100 ft of the house?

And I want intense colors, some wacky, variable forms,
and to attract all kindsa pollinators and birds and other creatures.
Except gophers and starving deer.

Been more into gardening, lately,
thanks in part to husband's successful elimination
of a Super Hero Garden Foe
(who last year ate my entire garden
so I stalked off and pouted until this spring).

Also, 'cause my life soundtrack lately is
with the fabulous duo, Jean Ann Van Krevelen and Amanda Thomsen.

They're just the entertaining, conversational, opinionated and funny,
smarty-pants, NON-PERFECTIONIST gurus I needed.

Helps me think things are possible.


I bought Amanda's CHARMING how-to book on
landscaping for beginners, Kiss My Aster (not a paid endorsement).
It's basically all cartoons, choose your own adventure,
WAY up my prone-to-get-overly-analytical-and-frozen-in-perfectionist-panic alley.

Tons of useful information,
but I've got a variable that is not addressed.
And I wouldn't expect it to be addressed.

Probably don't get to do much w/in 100 feet.
Might be able to sneak herbaceous and non-super-woody shrubs
after the first 30 feet, but even that isn't certain.

Don't think a distant skirt of vegetation
that I can barely see is the answer.

So, WHAT the heck to I DO?!?

You know you're in the sticks when...
One of Amanda's cool shortcuts is to go to Google Earth
and find and print your house/yard,
then trace that so you have a scale model of your space.
So, I thought, I can do that!
I use Google Earth all the time.


Apparently, we live so far out in the boonies,
they don't have decent resolution images of our house/yard/land.
House is just a vague, beige smear
in a vague, beige landscape,
dotted fuzzy green & blue-grey tree-blobs.

Adventures of Invisigirl!
Years ago I called a cable company
to see if it was possible to get cable here,
and he said, "You're not there."

Pause. Waiting for an explanation. None happening.

"Uh... what do you mean, we're not there?"
"You don't show up on our map."
Me: "I can SEE your company's cable 'cause it's strung through our yard,
to get to the next neighborhood."

"Oh. Well, sorry, you're just not on the map."

Makes a girl feel special.
Cable and cell-phone companies are blind to us,
Google Earth has a pretty serious astigmatism.

However, bonus to living in the boonies:
You can garden outside in your coolest summer pants,
even if those pants are technically pajamas.

Who are the jackrabbits gonna' tell?


p.s. If ANY of you have dealt with this 100 foot clear space issue
when thinking about landscaping, please let me know what you did/concluded.


  1. We don't have restrictions in place, but did make sure we had a metal roof. And of course, our stone house.
    I would suggest succulents. The varieties are amazing. I wish I could send you some pics I have in my "dream garden" folders of succulent gardens. No watering necessary, and I'm sure quite fireproof. Oh, the varieties available are astonishing.

    1. I realize this reply is a week late, but THAT is a GREAT idea. Been reading more re: CalFire requirements and they say only non-flammable plants near the house, w/o explaining what that is. I DO believe succulents would qualify, and I have had a LONG-term crush on any Dudleya (esp. pulverulenta, be STILL my beating heart!), so I may pick up that ball and run w/it. Thanks!!

  2. I saw a book by one of the Lake Tahoe agencies about 5 years ago that covered just that topic (and water quality) and it was really good. Passed it onto to someone in that biome so can't remember the name but might be worth checking that area. I have to maintain 30/100 foot clearances in my wildland area in central California. Have you checked CalFire's website and do you understand the requirements? They are NOT clearcut for 100 feet, you do have options. I have native grass stands and low native perennials that I either mow down in early summer and they come back or for plants like poppy, blue-eyed grass, they are spread apart enough and green if I water them so they are consistent with CalFire zones.

    1. Man, this is great. I'm literally going to copy and past your answer onto a file re: CalFire landscaping. Thanks!!

  3. yikes. be safe.

    these last couple of years, i've started to plant ONLY native plants. easy to care for & are used to the weather here. there are so many WEEDS...hardy & plentiful...that have colorful flowers & attract so many pollinators!! why i don't weed! ha. good excuse.

    hey, at least you're off BIG BROTHER's prying eyes...(another HA!)

    1. Great excuse. =) Yes, I've def. been thinking native, at least native to the REGION, etc., 'cause as you say, if you plant what's used to your conditions, life is JUST easier, and cheaper and more rewarding. Thanks!

  4. Biobabbler, add a small water feature/pond to the succulents, that will bring in wildlife and is fire resistant if you only have water plants in it?


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