The Bay Area is in the midst of another severe drought and warnings are being issued about limiting water consumption and usage. One of the biggest areas where residents and businesses can limit their water usage is when watering gardens and landscaping. To both reduce water consumption and set an example for the rest of the community, San Mateo City Hall has revamped its surrounding landscaping with sustainable plants and watering systems to create sustainable landscaping, and added a new decorative wall to emphasize the natural look and feel of the building.
City Hall is situated in the center of San Mateo on West 20th Avenue and has an understated presence. Its new sustainable landscaping and decorative wall create a welcoming entry to an approachable facility that fully complements its location within the community.
Enhancing Sustainability with Plants
The landscaping features an environmentally sound collection of Mediterranean and California native plants. Special attention was given to the selection of each plant regarding their ecological functions and their architectural design. “The plantings were selected to thrive together,” said Elga Perez-Rubio, Senior Parks and Landscape Maintenance Worker. Gardens and landscapes are expected to be resource efficient and use reduced amounts of water, fertilizer, pesticides, labor and energy. “All of these elements were taken into consideration, and the landscaping is having less of an impact on the environment,” Perez-Rubio stated.
The new landscaping is a serene habitat and is creating an ecological system that is inviting to a variety of wildlife such as bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, sparrows, lady bugs, and earthworms. The selection of landscaping was made with this in mind. Everything from the colors of the plants to their scent and flower production attracts and retains them.
In total, landscapers placed 1,500 plants throughout the grounds of City Hall ranging from non-fruit bearing olive trees, coastal Redwoods, and Maples. Lavender, rosemary, carpet roses and an assortment of salvia, sage, star jasmine and California poppies provide an array of color ranging from white to yellow, orange, blue and purple. Hydrangeas and leaf foliage in shade zones were added for interest.
The majority of the plants require moderate amounts of water to thrive, and an upgraded irrigation system helps to meet state and local water efficiency goals and mandates. Landscapers installed a drip tubing irrigation system called Netafim, developed in Israel, to apply water at the root zone where it is most needed; smart controllers adjust the irrigation amounts, and mulch throughout the grounds retains soil moisture in the roots. The three components of the irrigation system successfully conserve water and manage its usage.
A Lab for the Community
City staff hopes that San Mateo residents can come and learn from the new landscaping and incorporate some of its features into their landscaping at home.
“Think of the new landscaping as a lab,” said Parks and Recreation Director, Sheila Canzian. “Many of these plants are easy to incorporate into home gardens and the community is welcome to visit the grounds to learn about the varieties planted.”
To encourage residents and community members to come visit the new landscaping, and City Hall, the new display wall was designed to “grow” out of the landscape and flow around the building. Staff wanted the environment to be welcoming as well as properly detailed so anyone walking by will know they arrived at City Hall.
The wall is capped with a natural flagstone selected to blend the elements together. It provides an appealing transition from the building to the landscape with its subtle curves and complementary colors. The wall on the east side gives a predominant place for the friendship olive tree from Toyonaka, the Sister City of San Mateo.
The new landscaping and entry feature create a stronger sense of place and enhances City Hall’s presence in the neighborhood. “The grounds are beautiful, and City Hall is such an inviting place to visit,” says Mayor Goethals. “I encourage community members to visit City Hall and wander the grounds. It’s peaceful and relaxing, and this project represents one small fraction of all San Mateo is doing to create a more sustainable environment.”
City Council’s Recognition
Last Monday, July 18th, the City of San Mateo formally recognized the completion of the new City Hall Landscaping Project. The new landscaping creates a serene environment and the recently constructed entry feature identifies the building as a civic facility in the neighborhood. Mayor Joe Goethals and San Mateo City Manager, Larry Patterson welcomed the community at the ceremony, acknowledged city staff that led and contributed to the project, and recognized the benefits this landscaping brings to the community and the environment.
“It’s a tremendous improvement from what used to be here,” Patterson said. “The wall facing 20th Avenue lets visitors know they’ve arrived at City Hall, and the new landscaping is a complete transformation of the grounds. City staff designed and installed the landscaping and city staff also designed the wall. I’m proud of the attention and ingenuity given to the project. They’ve done a remarkable job.”
At the following City Council meeting, Council presented a proclamation to recognize July as Parks and Recreation Month. The City wanted to acknowledge all of the hard work that Parks employees put into completing the project. This project was important because it makes San Mateo an even more sustainable city. For more information about upcoming Council meetings and City events, please visit cityofsanmateo.org.