What do you get when you have a dilapidated park, new development funds, and a vision? Well, let’s start from the beginning…
About the Space
This space, otherwise known as the “triangle grassy patch next to Redwood Roller Rink” was a small underused pocket park that was in dire need of a repurpose. Coupled with the need to renovate the adjacent street and dilapidated sidewalks, our department had a project on their hands. Simultaneously, we were searching for a space for dogs to play, as that has been a community request for quite some time. Since new open space is at a minimum for a project like this, these two issues seemed easy to marry into a solution.
Beech street dead-end
Crumbling Main Street curbs
Enter Landscape Architect, Claudia Olalla. Claudia wanted to create a usable space that would also breathe some life and color into this otherwise dreary location. After a number of meetings, it was decided that a dog agility park would be a fun way to liven up this space and clean up not only the park area, but the street and cul-de-sac as well. Several other projects surrounding street improvement and pedestrian safety were also addressed.
The newly renovated stretch of Main Street now boasts:
Two new crosswalks
New sidewalks, curb, gutter and plants
New pedestrian-scale street lights along the entire block, plus two in the park itself!
The Beech Street Dead End is now closed to vehicular traffic.
Street trees – where there were no trees prior.
New trees were planted inside the park to replace the sick Walnut trees that needed to be removed. In addition, the rare American Elm tree received some much-needed love and is accentuated with uplights to make it a specimen tree.
Snapshot of the new Park & Sidewalk
Plants beautify the newly renovated sidewalk
Graded area with drainage feeding into the plant area.
About the Dog Park
Due to the awkward nature of the park’s footprint and proximity to the railroad tracks, finding an appropriate use for this land was definitely a challenge. We needed to come up with a more creative way for dogs and their humans to enjoy the new park. The closing of the Beech Street cul-de-sac would provide an extension to the park and an additional place for folks to gather. Claudia envisioned a “living room” look and feel, and the street now features a hand painted dog-themed rug with industrial block seating surrounding it.
It was quickly realized that the shape and small square footage of the space were not conducive for a typical dog park. Unlike most dog parks that commonly function as large dog runs, this small triangular park will be utilized more for agility practice
and socialization of dogs (and their humans). Dogs will be challenged by the park agility course, which includes hurdles, weave poles, a tunnel, ramp and stepping pods- both which have been treated with a gritty seal.
It is also important to note that the surface of the play area consists entirely of decomposed granite as opposed to artificial turf or natural grass. Not only is the park drought tolerant, but we have greatly reduced the water usage in the area and graded the slope so that there is sufficient drainage from the flat area into the new plantings along the track line.
Claudia’s style inspiration was “Rustic Industrial meets Urban Philadelphia.” There is heavy duty hardware, thick slabs of honey colored wood, repurposed pipes and fittings as well as black accents surrounding the park. This attention to detail not only can hold up to a lot of wear and tear, but also contributes to a cool and modern vibe.
How did we pay for this?
We saved the best for last! This park has been entirely funded by developers through the City’s park impact fees! No City General Fund dollars were used. When a new residential development is built, a fee per unit is assessed to help pay for park and recreation area and amenities. This is the first of many new park improvements to be made throughout the City!
Address: 1295 Main Street, Redwood City
Hours: sunrise to 10:30pm, year-round
Agility Course: hurdles, weave poles, tunnel, ramp and stepping pods
This week we will be tackling one of the most common frustrations of gardening in our area… CLAY!
Q: My yard has clay in the soil and even though we have turned it over many, many times and have added bagged soil to it, the ground still hardens up. What can I do to improve the soil for my plants? – Carrie B.
Unfortunately for us and our gardens, the native soil in most of the SF Bay peninsula regions (bordering the bay) is very fine, bay-mud clay!
Proportionally, most ideal garden soils are made up of only a very small part clay. Good garden soil is mostly sand, silt, and organic material and only about 10 to 20% clay.
Continual “amendment” of your clay –that is, the addition of about 6 inches of organic materials (like composted Redwood Chips, Organic materials, etc.) tilled or turned into the top 8 inches of clay, will likely have to be done every spring for at least 3 years until you will begin to notice an improvement in the condition of your soil from year to year. You do not have to evenly distribute the organic material into the clay –in fact, most experts caution against that. You can use a motorized tiller the first year and turn the soil with a spading fork thereafter.
Another very important step that you can take is to keep a thick (3 to 4 inch) layer of mulch on the surface of your planting bed. The mulch aids in amending the soil by providing organic material for the worms and other insects to incorporate down into the soil profile. The insects and the organic material can help to change the texture of the soil –making even a clay-based soil drain better- by making it crumbly (friable), and allowing air into the root zone. The mulch also prevents the rain and irrigation water from pelting the surface of the soil and further compacting the surface layer. This layer of mulch also keeps the moisture in the soil, prevents weed seeds from germinating and makes your soil “healthy” by giving it the beneficial microorganisms that are so vital for plant nutrition and competition against plant pathogens.
A side note: If you are attempting to grow plants that need “sharp” drainage (very fast draining soil) it will probably be necessary to plant them in a raised bed –with your root zone elevated above the natural grade.
This week we will be tackling a question regarding pests, that came to us via the Twittersphere!
Q: How do I keep those pesky RWC raccoons from ravaging my garden!?! – Bobbak S
There are far more Raccoons in the urban/suburban setting than there are in the wild!
Raccoons want what we offer them: food and shelter! It is easier to obtain these necessities of life from suburbia than it is from the wilderness!
Since it wasn’t specified what kind of damage the raccoons are doing, we’ll have to speculate. Are they digging up your lawn (sod), getting into your trash cans or stealing vegetables and fruit? Here are some common humane solutions to these types of problems.
Let’s start with the basic idea of a giant barrier. You cannot keep the raccoons out of your yard without fencing them out. The type of fence that you would need would be extremely cost-prohibitive!
So…try and figure out what they are after at your house and eliminate that attraction.
Digging up your lawn? –They usually do this in the late summer and fall when the white grubs are near the soil surface, eating the roots of your lawn and shrubs. The Grubs are a major food source for raccoons. You can discourage the raccoons by eliminating the soil insect pests.
Stealing your vegetables and fruit? Plant enough for them, too! …Or, once again, exclusionary fencing (chicken wire cages) around the veggie beds and netting around the fruit trees.
Are they getting into your trash cans? Use bungee cords to tie the trash can lids down.
Don’t leave dog or cat food where the raccoons have access to it.
Homeowners can have “some” luck with motion activated sprinkler systems and, occasionally, with chemical repellents or ammonia stations –but neither of these measures are 100%!
And lastly, some people attempt to trap and relocate the raccoons…this is not a good idea. There is always another raccoon ready and willing to take the place of the one you removed!
Welcome to our first installment of our gardening advice blog! Our Landscape Pros will be doing their best to demystify dirt, revive your roses and green-up your grass in our new blog series! Of course, we cannot guarantee your results, but hopefully we can put you on the right track and turn your thumb from black to green.
Q: Can Avocado trees be raised in containers? – Angel G.
A: Growing any type of fruit tree in a container is tough. The operative word here is “tree.” Trees generally need more root space than most containers can give them, but it can be done! I wouldn’t use a container smaller than a ½ wine barrel- a container with at least 2.5 ft width by about the same depth.
Choose a dwarf-type tree. If a fruit tree is to be kept in a container longer than a few years, it is usually only successful using a dwarf variety. ‘Wurst’ (also called ‘Little Cado’) is a dwarf variety and is sometimes recommended for container planting. This avocado is a hybrid type (a cross between Mexican and Guatemalan varieties) and it is not tolerant of temperatures below 30F. The one advantage to a container grown plant is that you do have the option to move the container to a protected place when the temperature plummets.
You could also consider a ‘Stewart’ avocado for this climate. It is not a dwarf, but it is a smaller, compact tree and tolerates colder temperatures better than the ‘Wurst’. I can speak from personal experience to the success of keeping a ‘Stewart’ in a container for a few years before it required root-pruning and re-potting.
Avocados like a planting medium similar to citrus. Make sure that it is slightly acidic and drains well.
Don’t expose your young tree to intense sun during the summer.
Avocados are very sensitive to salts accumulating in the planting medium, so be sure to flush the salts from the pot periodically.
Do NOT over-fertilize avocados –especially when planted in containers. Watch for leaf burn, both from intense sun and over fertilization.
Mulch the surface of the pot to keep the shallow roots cool, while allowing air circulation.
Don’t expect fruit too soon after planting! It can take 5 years or more before your tree may bear fruit.
Have you taken your walk today? I needed some fresh air and decided to step out of my office at the Community Activities Building. I was immediately captivated by all of the beautiful colors surrounding Red Morton Park, so much so, that I was compelled to snap some photos and share them with you!
These cheerful blooms are the work of our talented Landscape Team who continue to amaze us with their wonderful upkeep of our Parks, Planters, Medians, you name it! In addition to being great at what they do, they are more than happy to share their knowledge with you. If you have any questions about something they are working on, or are just wondering why your Rhododendrons are not flourishing like ours, just ask!
By the way, the Rose Garden adjacent to the Community Activities Building is about to explode with blooms! Make sure to add it to your walking route in the near future.
Lastly, are you snap-happy with your cell phone? Make sure to follow us on Instagram @rwcparks. Hashtag your shots with #rwcparks or mention us in your posts so we can see what you see.