Summer is fast approaching, and it’s time to start enjoying ourselves in our neighborhood parks and gardens. But our outdoor public spaces need to be prepared to deal with the influx of users that the warmer months bring. So what happens behind the scenes to make sure they’re in top shape for summer?
Yale Jeffery, Public Works Supervisor – Parks at the City of Vista, is someone who knows. He said the unusually heavy rainfall at the start of 2023 has meant things are a bit different this year.
“Thanks to that rain, we didn’t need to irrigate during those months,” Yale said. “Now we’re coming out of that rainy season and we’re starting to turn all our controllers back on. We’re checking our irrigation systems, making sure that we don’t have any valves that are malfunctioning and that nothing is broken before we get into the midst of summer and can’t afford to have irrigation not running for a couple of days or a week.”
At this time of year, the days are getting warmer, but the nights are still cool. So, Yale and his team have to make sure they have their irrigation runtimes calibrated correctly to avoid over-watering. They are weeding landscaped areas and removing any invasive plants that have started growing.
“We’re making sure that we don’t have areas of turf or play areas that are oversaturated,” Yale said. “We need to avoid the potential for muddy messes where someone could get injured.
“We’re also trimming our tree canopies. We want people to be able to enjoy their recreation times underneath the trees without running into a branch or getting a headache from one falling from above.
“We’re clearing away any branches that have fallen on walking trails or paths. We’re removing the fruit from palm trees before it falls to the sidewalks and cleaning up fruit and blossoms that have fallen where people need to walk.”
Stormwater crews have been clearing storm channels of invasive plants and anything washed down by the rains. That way, if any more heavy rainfall occurs later in the year, they won’t be blocked.
Some visitors to Vista’s parks need to be handled with great care. “Sometimes in spring, as everything’s starting to bloom, we come across beehives or bee colonies that are migrating,” Yale said. “When that happens, we either close off the area to let them be, pardon the pun, or if it’s an actual hive, we work with a company that comes out and helps relocate the bees so that they aren’t in the park and potentially injuring someone.”
The summer months also bring large-scale community events to our public spaces, including Vista’s Strawberry Festival, and the picnics and festivities for the Fourth of July.
At Brengle Terrace Park, the Moonlight Amphitheatre season has started, so Yale’s team has been busy getting everything ready within the amphitheater – cleaning, mowing, and trimming branches to ensure clean sight lines for audiences – and avoiding heavy irrigation in surrounding areas so that the hundreds of visitors to the nightly shows are not trekking through churned up muddy fields.
“There are also Summer Day Camps and Sports Camps for kids,” Yale explained. “These take place mainly on artificial turf, and that needs to be inspected and repaired if required. The sites need to be safe and secure for the kids. All of this is a lot of work, but it’s so important for all of us to have these spaces ready for all to enjoy.”