As California faces the prospect of a fourth consecutive dry year, the City of Sacramento’s Department of Public Works is actively exploring new landscape projects at medians and other streetscapes across Sacramento.
These projects will prioritize drought-tolerant retrofits of ornamental turf that will allow for reduced irrigation and maintenance in the future.
“The effects of climate change, including frequent droughts in the western United States, require us to reevaluate the way we use our water resources,” said Jennifer Venema, the City’s climate action lead.
State emergency regulations mandate that local governments limit or eliminate the watering of ornamental turf landscaping.
The City’s Streetscape Maintenance section oversees more than 565 acres of landscaping, which includes hundreds of medians, street corridors and pedestrian islands in the city.
“These projects will allow Public Works to further stretch funding for public landscaping maintenance and help reduce our overall water use in ongoing drought conditions,” said Public Works Director Ryan Moore.
One area staff are exploring as an opportunity to upgrade is the 21st Avenue median from Stockton Boulevard to 79th Street. The median is one of the largest in the city and has high maintenance costs and irrigation requirements.
Staff are preparing to submit a grant application to the California Department of Water Resources for the 2022 Urban Community Drought Relief Funding program to support the 21st Avenue Median project.
The Department of Youth, Parks, and Community Enrichment (YPCE) also received a Community Development Block Grant to design a park within the median. Public Works staff will work with YPCE and a landscape architect to produce design concepts and request community feedback next year.
“The grant will allow us to explore converting a portion of the median into parkland,” said Jason Wiesemann, senior landscape architect for YPCE. “We will work with the community to determine the exact location and to select potential park amenities.”
The move to introduce drought-tolerant landscaping in streetscapes aligns with drought regulations from local and state emergency drought regulations that prohibit the watering of ornamental turf.
The Public Works Urban Forestry section will be heavily involved to ensure there are no adverse effects to existing trees during the projects. Trees are not part of the City’s watering restrictions.