Integrated Living Systems Design LLC
Soil to Soul

Beverly Glen, CA

In this case the site is located in a canyon outside of a large city. The ecology is Chaparral, a natural fire ecology. The current stewards of the land have been strategically planting trees in the bottom of the canyon. Terracing, check dams, swales and an acequia system help to capture nutrients and water, while minimizing erosion. The surrounding ridges are covered in fire-prone vegetation and ultimately inter-connected with a sprawling suburban neighborhood.

To address the situation, trees in the outer zones of the site are limbed up leaving a raised canopy of between 5-10'. The resulting woody debris was chipped and returned to the ground creating a sponge of woodchip mulch that retains moisture, and soil while also feeding the trees as it breaks down.

A fenced vegetable garden is situated on the southwest facing slope at the cusp of zones 2 & 3. The cactus barrier radiates out from here forming a barrier that runs perpendicular to the slope 3/4 of the way up from the bottom of the canyon. Many cacti and succulents were planted in this living fuel break. General it is observed that non-spiny cacti are the most functional succulent, vertical, element in the fuel break. Agaves and Aloes form a graduated formation towards the outer zones.

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