Even in Drought, Girsh Park is Green
With the recent drought declarations by the County of Santa Barbara, and the State of California, Girsh Park remains focused on conserving our precious water resources. The idea of conserving water has been a major goal at Girsh Park since the park opened in 1999. All of the grass surfaces and landscaped areas are, and have been, irrigated with reclaimed water since the opening. This forward thinking has resulted in our fields remaining green, even through these harsh drought years. We have voluntarily taken several measures to continue to reduce the use of the reclaimed water. Not only does this help our local water supply, but it also helps the park save money each year. As a very unique 501 (c)(3) non-profit park, each and every dollar is precious to our operation.
In order to decrease water use and increase soccer at Girsh Park, we installed a state-of the-art synthetic turf soccer field in 2008. Girsh-Hochman Field, named after our generous benefactors, requires no water, no mowing, no pesticides or herbicides, and can be utilized 7 days a week 365 days a year. The water savings alone on this field made it worth the approximate $500,000 price of installation. More synthetic turf fields should be installed throughout the county to keep up with soccer demand, and to save on maintenance costs.
Additionally, we are constantly improving on our irrigation systems and drainage to function better, and to use less water. Kitson Landscape, Girsh Park’s landscape contractor, has been working diligently to fix broken sprinklers, capping sprinklers that are unnecessary, and has been reducing the amount of sprinkler run time over the last several years. The result has been less water use, less days of soggy or muddy fields, and better playing conditions for the Park’s 350,000 annual users.
Another water saving approach has been to embrace the once frowned upon kikuyu grass. Most lawn enthusiasts look down upon the use of kikuyu grass. Girsh Park has embraced it, because of its resiliency to high traffic, high growth rate during the warmest seasons, and most of all its need for less water compared to the more popular grass species. We have been periodically seeding fields with kikuyu over the last two years and have experienced much success. In addition to seed, we have also found that transplanting Kikuyu sod from unused patches in the park results in rapid growth, and spreading of the sod particularly in the summer months. We have discovered that we are our own small Kikuyu sod farm within the park, and we will continue to transplant this grass until each section of the park is dominated by kikuyu.
Finally, we have replaced all of our unreliable and inefficient spay irrigation in the perimeter landscaped areas with low emitting drip irrigation. The new drip systems have allowed our landscape irrigation to deliver water directly on the plants, where water is necessary. This increases efficiency and decreases the use of water in these planted areas. The perimeter is now thriving without the need for high volumes of water.
With all of these carefully thought out approaches, Girsh Park continues to be open to the public year round without sacrificing the quality of the facility. The fields will stay green, and the users will continue to experience the benefits of our water-wise approach to maintaining the fields at Girsh Park.