Guest Commentary: Transforming N Street Park

By Wyatt Garrett, Cecilia Walsh, Torin Dunnavant, and Emily Griswold

This past weekend, Tree Davis and the Davis Manor Neighborhood Council co-hosted two volunteer work days at N Street Park, with over 75 community members coming out to get their hands dirty. Under expert guidance from Tree Davis, the group planted over 450 drought-tolerant, climate-ready plants throughout the park, including eight trees. In addition, staff and volunteers began the installation of a comprehensive drip irrigation system around the park, completed a natural log habitat feature and spread a fresh layer of mulch in the newly planted areas. All of this work is part of a larger, community-wide effort to transform N Street Park into a more engaging and inspiring public space.

N Street Park was built in 1960, and last renovated in 1996. Up until 2022 the park was limited to a basic open turf area with a small, aging play structure tucked out of view from the street. Over the last few years, the Davis Manor Neighborhood Council successfully advocated for the park to be renovated in order to make it more safe, welcoming, playful, and sustainable. Starting in 2018, the neighborhood planning committee worked closely with Davis Manor resident and landscape architecture student Tucker McPhaul to engage neighbors in re-envisioning the park. They ultimately submitted a conceptual design proposal to the City of Davis that featured an updated play structure, conversion of most of the turf into climate-ready planting sites, inclusion of a dry creek bed, and the installation of a log habitat feature. Many of these preliminary concepts were incorporated into the final design.

The N Street Park renovation project has proven to be a model of neighborhood advocacy and community engagement in park design and implementation. Initiated by the Davis Manor Neighborhood Council, the project has been made possible through collaboration with the City of Davis City Manager’s Office, Parks and Community Services Department, Public Works Department, numerous contractors, and Tree Davis.

Tree Davis’ role in the project was established in 2022 with a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Davis. The MOU stated that Tree Davis “will work with members of the Davis Manor neighborhood group and the City of Davis in the planning, implementation and long-term stewardship of the landscape installation at the N Street Park.” Drawing on previous experience revitalizing the Tree Davis Memorial Grove through climate-ready landscape installations, Tree Davis’ involvement with the N Street Park renovation project marks the organization’s first expansion of its “Climate-Ready Landscapes” program into the greater Davis community.

Designed by Tree Davis Board Member and Davis Manor resident Emily Griswold, the N Street Park planting plan features four different types of trees and around forty different types of plant species with over450 individual plants in all. As with Climate-Ready Landscape installations at the Tree Davis Memorial Grove, the planting palette chosen for N Street Park takes into consideration the high likelihood of a hotter, drier climate for the Sacramento Valley region in the future. Over half of the species planted in the park are California native, and all of them were selected for heat and drought-tolerance, year-round beauty and habitat value.

In addition to planting over 450 plants and trees, staff and volunteers installed over 300 feet of drip irrigation and spread 10 cubic yards of mulch, demonstrating sustainable best practices for creating drought-tolerant landscapes. The N Street Park Planting Party was an encouraging display of community partnership – neighbors from all corners of town came out to show their support for a more sustainable Davis.
Tree Davis will work with the neighborhood over the next year to ensure that the plants thrive. The park transformation is a strong example of the impact that comes from the nexus of community leadership, city support and sustainable design.

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