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Landscaping more water efficient

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POSTED April 28, 2014 1:06 a.m.

There’s a State Farm commercial where  Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood, upon checking the ivy at Wrigley Field, finds a cell phone, a French horn and former outfielder and Cub great Andre Dawson. 

Cody Ross and his crew of parks maintenance workers never pulled any major league baseball greats out of the ivy that used to line the walkway outside of the Manteca Public Library. But during the years that the neighboring park became a transient haven, they did find some interesting items stashed under the surface. 

He didn’t care to elaborate when out observing the same patch of ground – sans ivy – Friday morning. 

And thanks to donations from the Manteca Garden Club, the maintenance on that section of ground will be much easier moving forward – a transition from a dense grove of low-lying ivy into a clean, open stand that includes a Japanese and Sunset Maple trees and Oklahoma Redbuds and several agapanthus plants that will flower in-season. 

And in a day and age when municipal staffing is tight, easy maintenance is the key for somebody like Ross. 

Friday was unique in several aspects the City of Manteca’s parks maintenance division. First, it was Arbor Day and that meant a planting project that they do every year with the Manteca Garden Club. It also meant refocusing on the Tree City USA designation – the 23rd straight year that the city has been bestowed that honor. 

A few more trees definitely doesn’t hurt. And by the time that workers finished shoveling four yards of shredded bark, the entire area had been completely transformed. 

The project will also be water-efficient. 

All landscape projects undertaken by the city have to be compliant with the 2006 California State Assembly bill that thrust water-efficient landscape maintenance ordinances into the forefront of local municipalities. 

According to Ross, Manteca’s Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Fant is the one tasked with making sure that all of the projects are compliant and within those designated guidelines. He noted that the maintenance aspect is another large factor that plays into how landscape projects are planned and developed. 

Manteca City Manager Karen McLaughlin said the same thing, essentially, when she spoke to the Manteca Historical Society two weeks ago. 

When addressing the issue of budgeting and the cutbacks that the city had to make in staff, McLaughlin said that she’s had several friends in the private sector note that they’ve had to cut back positions as well. The only catch is that Manteca had to cut staff as the workload increased. The city lost a quarter of its workforce while actually gaining almost 4,000 residents during the same timeframe. 

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