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Hays City Hall goes water-wise





Orange cones and heavy equipment in front of Hays city offices signal the transition to improved water-efficiency as the building's frontage area is being prepped for a demonstration garden.

City crews this week poured concrete for a parking stall and curbing, with paint markings planned for today.

A significant difference in the design of the concrete, Assistant City Manager Paul Briseno said during a press briefing last week, will "ensure better flow for the citizens of Hays who come to city hall."

After the concrete work is complete, Assistant City Manager Paul Briseno said city park's department staff will begin prepping the ground for foliage.

Existing greenery has been torn out and will be replaced with drought-tolerant plants by Hays city employees in the summer and fall. The plan, designed by Jeff Boyle, city of Hays parks director, will contain plaques identifying the plants. Similar drought-tolerant plants will be available at local businesses, Briseno said.

"The purpose of this is to showcase to our citizens the various opportunities for landscaping that are available and can be successful within the environment Hays sees from year to year," Briseno said. "Anything we can do to save water ... understanding there will probably be another hot and dry one this year."

Other demonstration plots throughout Hays are being maintained by city staff to show a variety of warm season grasses. Sunrise Park, Hickok Park and a plot at 21st Street and Pershing Court display drought tolerant landscape options. In addition, the southeast corner of Aubel Bickle Park will be converted to buffalo grass this year.

To incentivize residents to transfer from cool to warm season grasses, the city will provide buffalo grass seed if requirements are met. Typically, Boyle said, water savings of 70 percent to 80 percent can be realized by making the change from a cool to a warm season grass.

A free Water Smart Landscape Series, sponsored by the city, K-State Research and Extension, Ellis County, Ellis County Extension Master Gardeners and the Big Creek Middle Smoky Hill River Watersheds will focus on several issues relating to efficient water usage.

Topics will include:

* Tuesday -- Right plants, right place.

* April 9 -- Water wise, stormwater runoff and private wells.

* April 23 -- Lawns: Turf cool season to warm season conversion and healthy lawn care tips.

For more information on the turf replacement program, call the city of Hays Parks Department (785) 628-7375.