City parks attract visitors looking for grass and a playground, maybe a water fountain or shade. When the City is doing its job, visitors will almost never think about what it takes to keep grass healthy and green, litter off the grounds and out of receptacles, trees in good health and functioning amenities.
The City of Las Cruces has 90 parks. Not all the parks are the same – some are small spaces called pocket parks, others are large with a lot of features and are called regional or destination parks. Many are neighborhood parks that are enjoyed in residential areas.
In all, the City has almost 1,500 acres of parkland, 282 acres of maintained landscaped area, more than 100 acres of athletic fields and 37 miles of multipurpose trails, not to mention many other fields, courts, gardens, and facilities.
Here's a behind-the-scenes snapshot of the work that is done by the Parks and Recreation Department to keep city parks looking great for the community.
- Annual fertilization and aeration –
- Two to three fertilization applications and aeration per park.
- Possibly up to seven applications in high use, high visibility parks.
- Uniform irrigation –
- Daily routine irrigation checks (running systems in all parks).
- Uniform mowing -
- Weekly (and more often as needed) uniform mowing.
Bermuda grass needs air, sunlight, and enjoys heat. During the summer months, the city has an abundance of all three. Ideal conditions for turf to look its best normally line up between the months of June and September. This is due to high night time temperatures that keep Bermuda grass popping. During this time, the monsoon season also begins bringing more rainfall to the area. When all conditions combine, it results in healthy, quick growing turf.
During this "rapid growth" season, the mowing schedule is assessed daily to determine the level of care needed in which area on any given day. At times, Parks staff needs to stagger mowing to keep from shocking the turf.
When grass grows rapidly, it is common to mow and leave grass clumps behind. These clumps are then picked up using turf vacuuming equipment. Because equipment is shared with the sports field staff, who are maintaining turf on the athletic fields at the same time, mowing schedules must be synchronized so mowers can be followed by vacuums in a continuous cycle throughout the city.
Other factors that may impact turf care include:
- Equipment downtime – no back ups
- Rain events
- Staff on leave – no back ups
- Amount of new acreage added yearly
Parks is lucky to have a community forester on staff. The community forester works closely with Parks staff to identify and resolve irrigation issues, possible damages from equipment, bad tree planting practices from years past and biological dangers such as mites, bores and beetles. The community forester also develops Parks' tree and shrub maintenance plan which includes planting, removal and pruning.
Parks created a litter removal schedule years ago that has evolved over the years. The designated litter crew routinely remove trash from roughly 170 acres of property. Public areas are on a schedule of one to two visits per week depending on the size, type of use and weather events in each park. This crew also services hundreds of receptacles city wide. High use, high visibility areas (i.e. Downtown, Young Park, City Hall) are serviced through Zone Management schedules.
This service is provided by two different sections. Construction maintenance (one person assigned) inspects, cleans and repairs city playgrounds. The amount of playground sites (60) and driving time does not allow for consistent weed care. Parks will assist by hand removal of weeds because the City does not use post emergent chemical treatments in playground areas.
Restrooms are all unlocked and cleaned quickly first thing every morning. Once all have been unlocked, the restroom crew (two people) go back to the beginning of the route and give a thorough cleaning. They do this up to three times daily, all year long, Sunday - Saturday.
Parks staff operate under 13 different schedules. This does not include Sports Fields, Construction Maintenance or Right of Way (ROW)/Medians.