“Donate a Day” Campaign Transforms the Campus of a Non-Profit for Foster & At-Risk Youth

“Donate a Day” Campaign Transforms the Campus of a Non-Profit for Foster & At-Risk Youth BrightView Clears Overgrown and Dead Brush that Pose Safety Risk

The story of how BrightView crews descended upon the campus of California non-profit Casa Pacifica to restore the landscape began not with a phone call; but rather, an observation made from the window of a classic 1970 Chevy C20.

BrightView Business Developer Ryan Smith was participating in a drive-through car show to benefit the crisis-care and residential treatment facility, which serves foster and at-risk children in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. The car show took participants on a loop through Casa Pacifica’s Camarillo campus, the charity’s headquarters. Ryan was struck by what he saw.

“Driving through the parade I could see landscape areas in poor condition that needed attention, including water running down the parking lots which indicated potential irrigation leaks. I had an overwhelming feeling of wanting to help so I took mental notes of where BrightView could make the most impact,” Ryan said. He took the idea to Vice President and General Manager Scott Godfrey and it quickly took off.

“It only seemed logical to work with our teams and clients to help create a safe environment for the staff, children and young adults that Casa Pacifica serves,” Scott said.

Casa Pacifica Cleanup
BrightView crews cleared overgrown and dead brush filling two 40-yard dumpsters and two large tree trucks. 

And with that, they got to work, creating a coalition to make their vision a reality. BrightView’s Ventura and Conejo branches reached out to some of their clients to ask if they’d be willing to donate a day of service to enable crews to redirect to Casa Pacifica to tackle an overgrown area between the campus’s main driveway and housing for transitional-aged youth, also known as the TYS program. The scope would require several crews-- including maintenance, enhancement and tree crews-- for 2 full days of work. JLL of Thousand Oaks, City of Westlake Community Park, La Ventana HOA in Ventura, and Westlake Park Place were among the generous clients who agreed to donate a day.

“BrightView showed up with a team of six managers asking, ‘How can we help support you? We love what you do,’” Casa Pacifica Facility Manager Robert Van Gundy said. “We started our TYS dream in 2011 with some abandoned houses. To say they were in dire need would be an understatement. Ten years later and well over 100 youth served in just these houses and we still have the same issues with overgrowth… until now.”

Pearl Thanks Crew Members
Casa Pacifica’s resident therapy dog, a Newfoundland named Pearl, approved and rewarded crewmembers with snuggles.

When the crews arrived on a Thursday, they went to work targeting the area that posed the highest safety risk. They cleared dead debris and plants from the front entrance and tackled overgrown and dead brush, which represented a tremendous fire hazard. By the time the weekend arrived, the teams had filled two 40-yard dumpsters and two large tree trucks. Two Casa Pacifica employees remarked it was their first time seeing that part of the campus free of the overgrowth and were amazed at the result. Casa Pacifica’s resident therapy dog, a Newfoundland named Pearl, also approved and rewarded crewmembers with snuggles. 

“We can’t thank BrightView enough for believing in and supporting Casa Pacifica,” Robert said. 

Yet it’s BrightView that can’t thank Casa Pacific enough for the vital work it does. 

“Living in the area, I have passed by the Camarillo headquarters many times and often wondered how we could help,” Scott said. In their “donate a day” campaign, Ryan, Scott and their teams found a way. By restoring the landscape, Casa Pacifica’s team can continue to restore hope for so many children and families across California’s Central Coast.

Content Hero Image
Casa Pacifica

Getting Ready for Santa Ana Winds

Getting Ready for Santa Ana Winds This is Preparation You Should Never Blow Off

If you’re a Southern California resident, you’re all too familiar with Santa Ana winds. Every October, the infamous gusts blow into town, wreaking havoc with speeds up to 100mph. In the best-case scenario, they topple a sign, or part of your lunch. In the worst-case scenario, they cause severe damage or fuel fires that endanger the safety of people and property. The good news is, you don’t have to let those Santa Ana winds push you around. With these tips, you’ll be ready.

What Causes Santa Ana Winds?

We often think of Santa Ana winds as a local phenomenon, but they don’t actually start in our backyard. In fact, Santa Ana winds originate in the Great Basin, which spans the inland deserts, into Nevada and Utah. While the winds are hot and dry by the time they reach us, they actually form when cooler temperatures exist in the Great Basin. High pressure systems push the Santa Ana winds into Southern California. As the winds descend the Santa Anas and other mountain ranges, the air gets hotter and drier. 

Unfortunately, those hot, dry winds happen to coincide with Southern California’s fire season, exacerbating dry conditions and fanning flames. The timing only intensifies the need to make timely preparations. 

How to Prepare for Santa Ana Winds

Santa Ana winds generally peak in October, making September primetime to get your property ready. When it comes to preparing, your landscape partner should give your property a thorough once-over, looking top to bottom for potential risks.

Santa Ana Wind Debris
Dead, diseased or unhealthy trees and branches can cause major damage to property and people.

Santa Ana Winds are a good impetus to keep up with routine tree care, including pruning. Dead, diseased, or unhealthy trees and branches create a high level of risk, and should be promptly removed. However, even healthy trees could use some care to ensure they’re well positioned to survive the winds. Structural pruning of the tree’s crown can decrease wind resistance, improve strength, and remove branches that are too close to structures or driveways.  Eucalyptus, coral, and melaleuca trees that haven’t been pruned within a year have a higher tendency to break or fail.  Similarly, drought tolerant trees that are irrigated and not deciduous are also at a higher risk of limb failure, underscoring the importance of regular, ongoing maintenance.

Trees aren’t the only ones that could use some attention. Bushes should also be regularly trimmed to eliminate unhealthy branches that could break off, while struggling plants that could uproot completely should be removed. The key is to focus on looking for potential projectiles. That includes eliminating loose debris that could be stirred up by the wind. 

The bottom line—Santa Ana winds can be a nuisance, but with some forethought, they’ll be much easier to endure. Lean on your landscape partner to make the process seamless. The fall season and back to school rush can make it easy to let your preparations get pushed to the back burner. It’s all the more reason to include regular tree care in your landscape contract. While Santa Ana winds can be unpredictable, the preparations that will keep you safe are not. 

Tree Care
Santa Ana Winds

Make Your Landscape Fire Resistant

Make Your Landscape Fire-Resistant These Plants Have Good Looks & Fire-Resistant Charm

When it comes to preparing your landscape for the threat of wildfire, there’s no such thing as a drill. Maintaining readiness through proper clearance of brush and plant material is a year-round task. But there is one long-term strategy that can help you grow your landscape’s fire resistance, and it involves the plant material you choose.

While there’s no such thing as a fire-proof plant, you can select varieties with qualities that mitigate the spread of fire, such as those with low-sap or resin content, high-moisture, or plants that grow close to the ground.  Here’s a look at some of the smartest choices for landscapes in fire-prone areas.

Get in the Zone

First up, let’s take a look at one the best practices of firescaping: zoning. Developed by the Los Angeles Arboretum, Zone Theory provides beneficial guidelines for creating a more fire-resistant landscape. Imagine drawing a bullseye around each structure on your property, with the structure at the center. Each of the surrounding circles represents a zone:

French Lavender
French Lavender is a fire resistant plant that thrives in dry growing conditions. 
  • Zone 1 extends 30 feet from a structure. This area should include fire-retardant plans unlikely to ignite.
  • Zone 2 comprises the area 30 - 70 feet from a structure. This area should include fire-resistant plants designed to prevent further spread to Zone 1. This is a great spot for shade trees, so long as canopies are not continuous.
  • Zone 3 consists of the area 70 – 120 feet from a structure. If the area is landscaped, fire-resistant plants similar to those in Zone 2 should be used, taking care to avoid dense plantings. Otherwise, the focus for Zone 3 and any remaining area up to the property line should be brush clearance.

Choose Your Landscaping Wisely

  • Create breaks in your landscaping with either rock walls or stone paths. 
  • Try using mulch or ground cover landscaping for bare spaces this will act as a fire break. 
  • Choose high moisture plants that grow close to the ground or try fire retardant plant species.

California's Fire Resistant Plants

Red Monkey Flower
The Red Monkey Flower is an Evergreen shrub that is also drought tolerant and a California native species. 
  • French Lavender
  • Red Monkey Flower
  • California Fuchsia
  • Sage
  • California Lilac
  • Society Garlic
  • Ornamental Strawberry
  • Coreopsis
  • California Red Bud

These are just a handful of species you might consider for your fire-resistant landscape. The lists here are far from exhaustive. Check with your local fire authority for a comprehensive list of plants well suited to your region. Or, talk to your landscape partner, who can help create a design that’s as beautiful as it is safe.


Fire Resistant Landscaping

Fuel Modification is Your Best Fire Defense

Fuel Modification is Your Best Fire Defense This Fire Season, Ensure Your Property Remains Safe & Sound

This past year was a devastating fire season for the state of California, underscoring the importance of a vigilant fuel modification program. Now is the time to create defensible space around your property to ensure you're well protected. Here's what you need to know.  

Clear Out the Risk

In Los Angeles County, and many surrounding counties, dry weeds, brush, or neglected vegetation within 100-200 feet from a structure, or within 10 feet of a road is considered a hazard and should be cleared. It’s important to note these guidelines aren’t just good practice

Dead or dying brush is a risk any time of the year.
Dead or dying brush is a risk at any time of the year. 

for fire season. Dead or dying vegetation is a risk at any time of the year, as are low hanging branches that reach within 6 feet of the ground or the plants below. A fire can quickly jump from the ground to the tree, facilitating easier spread to other structures.

Fires aren’t the only safety concern excess brush creates. Excess brush can harbor unwanted pests like ticks and rodents, creating a threat to the health of those who enjoy your property.  In addition, excess brush can obscure line of sight on your property, creating blind spots and obstacles that increase the chance of accidents or injuries. Beyond these risks, excess brush is unsightly and can negatively impact your curb appeal. Regular management is an important tool in maintaining, and in some cases boosting, your property value.

Give Yourself a Buffer

The types of plants that line your perimeter and how they’re spaced makes all the difference in the world. Fire-resistant landscaping is recommended for areas within 30 feet of structures. Succulents, flower beds, and rocks are all good choices. A good rule of thumb is to provide a minimum spacing between vegetation that’s 3 times the size of the plant. 

No matter where you’re planting, be sure to give preference to native plants. Native species tend to be more fire-retardant and resilient than non-native invasive species. Plus, they’re better adapted to the Southern California climate, translating to a lower water bill over time. Manzanita, oaks, and yucca are just a few examples.

Know Your Options

There are a few ways to tackle fuel modification. Your landscape partner can help you evaluate your options and select a plan that best fits your needs and budget. Methods include:

  • Mechanical Removal: Brush is removed utilizing machinery such as chainsaws, brush mowers and trimmers. Large areas may require the use of bulldozers or front loaders. Because brush will eventually grow back following mechanical removal, it’s generally not recommended as a standalone remedy.  When used in conjunction with herbicides, however, it’s highly effective.
  • Herbicides: Non-selective herbicides, including chemical and organic solutions, make it easier to remove unwanted brush. Apply during the growing season (spring and summer) for best results. 
  • Culture Methods: For those looking to avoid the risk of soil disruption inherent to heavy equipment, or who prefer not to use herbicides, consider enlisting some furry friends. Goats and livestock have been successfully used to control brush, especially in wildfire-prone areas. It’s important to work with a provider who is experienced in this method, especially because containment is key. Otherwise, you may have an animal who takes the initiative to eat through areas where its services were not needed.

There are many ways to control brush and create a landscape that is as safe as it is beautiful. If you need help with your fire prevention plans, including vegetation management or fire-resistant landscape design, contact us. We’d be happy to help.

Fuel Modification is Your Best Fire Defense

The Importance of Fence Clearing

More than Aesthetics, Fence Clearing Enhances Safety An Unkempt Fence Line Can Be Risky Business

Chances are the landscape around your entrances is well-maintained. But what about the perimeter of your property, specifically along your fence line? While the outer edges of your property might not need as much attention, overgrown brush, weeds, and bushes can quickly create unforeseen problems that can compromise safety and your budget.  Here’s the scoop on fence clearing.

An Unkempt Fence is Risky Business

Overgrown Fence Line899417-5986-4533-9f27-921036c6a94c" height="250" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Fence%20Line.png" width="196" loading="lazy">
Unkempt fence lines pose as a risk to both your property and budget.

When plant material along your fence line gets out of control, so too does your exposure to risk. An unkempt fence line can provide fuel for a fire, making it easier for flames to spread across or to your property. It also makes it difficult for firefighters to have a clear access path around your entire property should they need to contain a fire.

While the consequences of overgrown brush aren’t always catastrophic, it can still hit you where it hurts—right in the budget. Fence clearing helps extend the life your fence; without it, branches can apply pressure that compromises the integrity of your fence, necessitating repairs or replacement. This presents a security issue as well, should any damage create openings that allow unwanted guests access to your property.

Finally, don’t forget about visibility. Maintaining good line of sight is important for the safety of all who frequent your property. Overgrown areas provide hiding spots for unwanted guests and serve as a collection spot for loose debris and litter. Removing excess brush helps prevent blind spots and obstacles that could cause vehicle accidents or pedestrian injuries.

How to Tame the Beast

Thankfully, there’s more than one way to tackle the problem. Here’s what you need to know to choose the right one for you:

Mechanical Methods

Among the most common methods are chainsaws, bulldozers, brush mowers and trimmers. Chainsaws, brush mowers and trimmers make the most sense when you want to selectively clear the fence—for instance, you wish to leave certain trees intact. When the job calls for a clean slate over a large area, bulldozers or front-end loaders may be required. The downside, however, is that heavy equipment like these can increase your chances of soil erosion, a risk your landscape provider can help assess. The other important pitfall to mechanical removal is that it’s not permanent. Eventually, whatever was removed will grow back. That’s where herbicides can come in handy.


Non-selective herbicides can be used to kill brush, making it easier to keep your fence line tidy. Options include both chemical and organic solutions. Apply during the active growing season (spring and summer), to make removing the dead brush a snap. Once your fence line is clear, the soil can be lined with landscape fabric to help keep weeds from growing in the future.

Whatever route you go, remember that fence clearing is not a one-and-done process. Your landscape provider can help create a vegetation management plan that makes the task more manageable—both in time and budget.

Clear Fence Line
Subscribe to Fire Abatement