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City Unveils Fire Safety Demo Garden

A garden full of fire-resistant plants and groundcover, including a stand-in art house, aims to demonstrate what residential fire-safe landscaping should look like.

The ’s latest venture to educate residents about making their homes more fire safe gets its coming-out party Wednesday.

The city’s demonstration garden, which is located on a plot of land near the southern end of the Public Safety Building on Hamilton Drive, is the brainchild of Battalion Chief Scott Barnes, who has spearheaded a to .

“This is just one more way for us to educate residents about the need to prepare for the event of a wildland fire in our area,” Barnes said.

The 1,100-square-foot garden, which cost the city approximately $10.500, includes a number of fire-resistant, drought tolerant and deer-resistive plants, as well as different types of mulches. The garden features “islands” of plantings with space between them and is scaled to indicate the need for a 30-foot “clean and green zone” between the garden and the home.

The home itself is the creation of local photographer and owner Stuart Schwartz, who made the house as part of the in 2010. The houses were auctioned off to raise money for the center’s efforts to combat homelessness, and the center donated the house to Barnes for this project.

A National Park Service-style interpretive signpost has been installed with an educational illustration explaining the need for fire-resistant plants and explains what defensible space looks like and how to create it at home. The sign also lists the names of the plants and flowers used in the garden. The garden is irrigated with a battery-operated system that does not require electric service to the site.

The 411: The city of Mill Valley hosts a celebration of the new fire resistive demonstration garden at 1 Hamilton Drive on Wednesday, June 6 at 1 p.m. Mayor Garry Lion, City Councilmembers, City Manager Jim McCann and Battalion Chief Scott Barnes will speak. Marin County Fire Department Forester Kent Julin will give a presentation on creating a fire-safe landscape.

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