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Save trees, let the grass turn yellow
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There have been some calls lately to the Bulletin complaining about “dead grass” in landscaping maintenance districts and the prevalence of yellow and brown at a number of city parks.

When they are reminded that we are in a drought and the city is doing its fair share of cutbacks, the callers typically point to other valley cities such as Turlock that haven’t let their municipal grass go as far as Manteca.

But here’s the rub: Manteca is using a  strategy that keeps heavy use areas such as Woodward Park and Northgate Park green while letting lesser used parks go with proportionately less water. At the same time they have taken care to make sure trees and shrubs are still thriving.

There are two reasons for this. First and foremost, if trees get stressed it weakens their root system and makes them more susceptible to toppling during wet weather. It also takes years for trees and shrubs to mature. They also represent a significantly higher investment than grass.

Grass, if it “dies out” comes back.

 City Manager Karen McLaughlin said municipal staff opted to protect municipal “assets” in the most effective way while keeping parks functional and meeting the state mandate to reduce water use.

“We realize a lot of people like to look at green grass but our concern are the trees,” she said.

The strategy was devised and implemented by Parks and Recreation Director Ken Fant and his staff.