A fire rebuild is becoming a common occurrence these days in the wake of the fires of 2017 and 2019. We were referred to this project by one of our best customers, also a resident of the Fountaingrove development who was fortunate to escape the firestorms.

The homeowner called us in August 2019 as he was nearing completion of construction, and we discussed design ideas for the front and the back yard. No formal design was necessary, so we presented estimates based on our discussions and a rough sketch. He agreed to our proposals, but was experiencing construction delays, so asked us to postpone beginning our work. We moved on to another project for six weeks, and returned to find construction further along, but not fully completed. He also learned that the city of Santa Rosa would not issue a certificate of occupancy if the front yard was started but not completed. So he asked us to only do the back yard at this time.

This project presented a few issues and challenges. The first, a minor one, was the presence of deer, which we addressed by using deer resistant plants.

The second was the slope of the property and the proximity of the home to Fountaingrove parkway behind the backyard. The house now had a deck off the back door, and the view standing on the deck was over and beyond the property to the busy parkway traffic below. It was imperative that the narrow backyard included screening shrubs and trees to block out the view and the noise. So we installed a lineup of large 24” boxed shrubs and high-branching trees along the back property line. The backyard also needed drainage to carry water from one end of the yard to the other, so we cut a French drain the entire length of the yard and disguised it with a natural dry creek bed with various sized boulders and ornamental grasses.

The third, and major issue we faced was the presence of the construction crew and their vehicles and equipment. Although respectful, it was difficult for us to park, receive material deliveries, and store our tools securely. The entire street was full of construction crews, porta potties, delivery trucks – it was a mess. We swore we would not deal with that again. We told the homeowner we would not return to landscape his front yard until the house construction was 100% complete.

He called us again in February 2020. He was ready for the front yard. We were left with a yard that

was uneven and badly in need of grading. We spent several days spraying weeds and grading, leaving the general slope of the yard intact. The homeowner wanted instant maturity, and was willing to pay us for the largest plants and trees we could find. A fire rebuild leaves nothing but a blank slate, and with his new beautiful home he did not want to wait years for little plants to mature. So we installed four 24” boxed trees, and a tapestry of the largest deer-resistant plants we could find along with moss-covered boulders. Up along the sidewalk we prepared a small lawn, and he was a happy camper.

This fire rebuild in Fountaingrove was a successful project in spite of some challenging issues.