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California Casuals

by Stephen Kelly, regional editor

Before and After: The rough framework of the 20x40-foot free form pool with attached 8-foot diameter spa is constructed with metal lath over rebar and plaster over concrete. The worker (left) is cutting flagstone, the worker (right) is painting the faux rock to match the flagstone. The faux rock is a "positive" carved concrete, not fiber-reinforced concrete. The "positive" method is a free-form sculptural hand carving of wet concrete to replicate the look of natural rock, requiring an artistic touch--talent doesn't hurt, either.

Tri-Valley Landscape Management, Inc. (TVLM) was established 17 years ago in Westlake Village, Calif. (L.A. County) as a landscape contracting company that has evolved to offer general contracting, landscape design/installation, swimming pool construction, landscape maintenance, horticultural consulting and pest control.

The entry to the Ellis residence is through a mahogany gate with hammered iron accents. Note the detailed and precise battered stacked Three Rivers Stone columns at the entry and further along the sand-blasted concrete walk. The tree towering above the entry is a 96" olive; against the wall are fern pines (Podocarpus gracilior).

Just to orient you, Westlake Village is a planned community (pop. 8,368) that began construction in 1966 around a manmade lake in Los Angeles County. The name "Westlake" has created some confusing in southern Calif., as Westlake Village is often mistaken for the Westlake District of L.A. Westlake Village, however, straddles the L.A.-Ventura county line, with much of the original community lying with the city of Thousand Oaks in Ventura County. The city is affluent and secluded. Commercially, it is the headquarters of the Dole Food Co., J.D. Power and Associates and Guitar Center.

The Tri-Valley Landscape Management, Inc. (TVLM) team, from left: Mike Sexton, GM and manager of landscape division; Craig Kircher, president and owner; Scott Bucy, maintenance division manager. The photo was taken at the Decaussin residence, a property for which TVLM received first place in residential estate installation at the 2004 Calif. Landscape Contractors Association awards. TVLM also garnered an "Achievement Award" for large residential landscape maintenance that year.

Craig Kircher, the company president, oversees daily operations and lends a design hand, drawing from over 20 years in estate work. Kircher, right out of high school, went to work for contractor Mike Dubreuil. Dubreuil bought another company and merged the companies in the early 1980s. Kircher bought Dubreuil out in 1991, with Dubreuil venturing into the restaurant business (today he is CEO of Chuy's). Kircher told me, among other projects, he is doing a design/install for the Dubreuil residence.

The crew installs an 84-inch coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) and specimen palms (Phoenix dactylifera).

Kircher is a licensed California general, landscape and swimming pool contractor, a board certified arborist and holds a Calif. qualified applicator license (pest control). The firm is design/build, although Kircher told me the landscape maintenance side of the business is the largest sector of his business.

The Ellis residence in Simi Valley, what contractor Kircher calls a "Calif. casual" design, has an entertainment patio complete with a stacked Three Rivers Stone fire pit and BBQ enclosure with granite top, housing a 54" BBQ with side burner and refrigerator, all stainless steel. The patio and cabana are constructed of Douglas fir and painted grey to match the house color. The sanded-blasted concrete is accented with flagstone.

A relatively new service is plant health care through TVL&G, the company's pest control consulting division. "We provide in-nursery and in-field horticulture services by diagnosing, reporting and treating via the latest application methods available," Kircher explains.

Two views of the Ellis pool, with flagstone sides and finished in Pebble Tech with a custom Tahoe blue mix and 1x1 inch hand-cut glass tiles (Oceanside Glasstile). This property was flat. The soil dug to form the pool now makes a 6-foot rise in elevation above the pool for the Melaleuca (myrtle), live oak and Mondell pine (Pinus eldarica) trees, keeping company with geraniums, nesophila, purple leaf plum and nandina shrubs. Access to the 30-foot pool slide (Natural Structures) is via a wrought-iron spiral staircase (not seen). The slide has a 30-inch. I.D. polyethylene flume requiring a water flow of 14-20 gpm via a 1 hp pump. The pool fence is wrought iron and the concrete entry is sand-blasted concrete with flagstone trim.

And Kircher keeps abreast of the latest technology and incorporates it. TVLM has a CAD studio in office with its own plotter, large format printer and specialized computer software is employed to track customer accounts. On the maintenance side, the company is using Hydrocomm controllers to save clients money on their water bills.

The pool-side hardscape left is stamped concrete, acid-stained and grouted; the walkway is exposed aggregate with sand finished steps.

"The reduced water runoff benefits of the controllers and our Green Waste Recycling program show our dedication to being environmentally friendly," says Kircher.

The Kircher residence shows off a hand-seeded exposed aggregate entry. The flagstone walls on both sides of the walkway with pin-placed concrete cap stones integrate with the steps. A large pepper tree (right), a sago palm, Pittosporum, impatiens, iceberg roses (center), crape myrtles (left and by pepper tree) and an euyonimous hedge make up the flora.

"From design to implementation Tri-Valley is recognized as an industry leader in our field," says Kircher. He attributes this to experienced production crews and an up-to-date equipment inventory to assure projects can be properly completed. Once the job is completed, the goal is to be the client's maintenance company and to control the direction of landscape as it matures.

Delivering customer satisfaction is paramount. One way Tri-Valley does this is by maintaining excellent relations with local suppliers so that all the required materials are readably available, avoiding the kind of delays that can be particularly aggravating to the client and put projects on hold.

The entire approach and driveway for the Malic residence was torn up. The hardscape is Three Rivers Flagstone, a hard quartz sandstone formed in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho know for its swirling patterns of gold, tans, beige and plum colors. Dwarf date palms flank the steps up to the sand-blasted concrete driveway.

Speaking about his company, he notes a low employee turnover and employees who like their work and feel secure in their jobs. "Our employees wear company uniforms, use two-way radios, drive vehicles from a late-model fleet and take advantage of other company benefits like health insurance and investment programs," Kircher adds.

The company promotes from within whenever possible. Toward the aim, TVLM encourages and offers employees the opportunity to advance by attending training seminars and classes to boost their knowledge and expertise.

The Macik property in Moorpark Country Estates boarders the golf course. A sand-finished concrete walk (left) ramps up to a vine-like hand-twisted wrought-iron arbor. The flagstone water feature, seen from the side and front, is a fully-automated 12x16-foot spa incorporating a hot and cold water pond above it. Two 400 BTU pool and spa heaters requlate the temperature. The pool is designed with beach entry of flagstone for wheel chair access, and the walk ways around the house are wheel chair accessible. Plantings here include red kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos), begonias, daisies and bronze flax.

Management Team

  • Craig Kircher, president
  • Mike Sexton, general manager and landscape operations
  • Scott Bucy, maintenance division manager
  • Carlos Hernandez, landscape division supervisor
  • Marco Hernandez, maintenance division supervisor
  • Gary Moraga, service division supervisor

Staff's Licenses and Designations

  • general contractor
  • landscape contractor
  • swimming pool contractor
  • qualified applicator license (pest control)
  • pest control advisor (PCA)
  • certified crop advisor (CCA)
  • 2 ISA board certified arborist

California Service Area

Santa Barbara to Pasadena / Santa Clarita to Santa Monica

Specializing service area: Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, Camarillo, North Ranch, Calabasas, Malibu, Encino, Beverly Hills, Pacific Palisades and the West Los Angeles.

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June 18, 2019, 6:38 pm PDT

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