Jul 19

Help your trees avoid long-term drought damage

Posted on July 19, 2021 at 9:11 pm by Clay Curtin

You can help preserve Menlo Park’s Tree City USA heritage this summer by making sure your trees avoid long-term drought damage by following some simple tree care guidelines. Water mature trees once a month by irrigating near the edge of the tree canopy (drip line) at a low flow rate for a long duration to allow water to infiltrate down at least 18”-24” deep into the soil (Rule of thumb - use 10 gallons per 1 inch of trunk diameter). For young trees not yet established, water every 3-5 days within the drip line and check the moisture level of the soil at least 2” down to ensure you’re not overwatering.

The use of drip irrigation and bubblers can offer efficient watering; additionally a simple soaker hose found at any garden center can be just as effective and provide the extra flexibility of moving irrigation easily where it’s needed. Trees both young and old can benefit significantly from adding a thick (2”-4”) layer of wood chip mulch as ground cover in the area under the drip line. Mulch works to help conserve soil moisture, moderate temperatures, improve soil conditions, reduce the potential for surfacing roots and improve tree health.

Check out Cal Fire’s infographic for more detailed information on the importance of maintaining trees during a drought.


Jul 19

Stay one step ahead and know your zone

Posted on July 19, 2021 at 8:36 pm by Clay Curtin

In the midst of wildfire season, it is always good to be prepared of an evacuation or emergency and know your zone. In the event of an emergency, first responders will use Zonehaven to plan and execute evacuations both large and small. In order to understand whether your area is under an evacuation warning or order, you need to know your Zone Name. First responders will use the code to direct evacuations or issue shelter-in-place orders for specific zones across the Peninsula. 

Emergency managers have carved the Peninsula into more than 300 zones on an online, publicly available map supported by Zonehaven, a California-based company under contract with the County of San Mateo. Each zone is assigned a short code. Enter an address to look up a zone.

The zones may not follow traditional neighborhood or even city borders. Instead, the zones are optimized for best evacuation routes and other factors and eliminate confusion about arbitrary boundaries.

In an emergency, first responders will issue evacuation or other orders and advisories based on the zones. This information will be pushed out via the news media, social media such as Twitter, emergency alert notifications and other platforms.

Preparation steps:

  • To find out which zone you live in, enter your address into the interactive Zonehaven map
  • Write your Zone Name down and place it on your fridge
  • Assemble an emergency supply bag  

In the event of a wildfire or an emergency, law enforcement and fire agencies issue evacuation warnings or evacuation orders for impacted areas. These notices are issued for a zone with an evacuation status.

Residents are encouraged to receive emergency alerts at menlopark.org/SMCAlerts and choose “Register Now” or call the Office of Emergency Services at 650-363-4488 for recorded instructions about updating your SMC Alert account.


Jul 19

How you can conserve energy during a flex alert

Posted on July 19, 2021 at 8:11 pm by Clay Curtin

A Flex Alert is typically issued in the summer when extremely hot weather pushes up energy demand and the state electric grid reaches its capacity. It is a call to consumers to voluntarily cut back on electricity and shift electricity use to off-peak hours. This usually happens in the late in the day when solar energy supplies starts to decrease and people arrive home and switch on air conditioners, lights and appliances.

When a Flex Alert is called, residents are advised reduce their electricity use on the dates and times noted in the alert. Conservation is a vital tool in preventing local rotating power outages during heat waves. As we’ve already seen this summer, there have been heat waves and flex alerts so it’s important to sign up for Flex Alerts and be prepared.

In the morning before a Flex Alert:

  • Pre-cool their homes by lowering air conditioning thermostats to 72 degrees
  • Close blinds and drapes to keep the sun from heating up the home
  • Turn off unnecessary lights
  • Use dishwashers, washing machines and other major appliances
  • Set pool pumps to run early in the morning
  • Charge mobile devices and laptops
  • Charge electric vehicles

During a Flex Alert, when conservation is needed:

  • Set air conditioner thermostats to 78 degrees, if health permits
  • Avoid using dishwashers, washers, dryers, and ovens
  • Turn off unnecessary lights
  • Unplug or turn off electrical devices that you are not using
  • Keep blinds and drapes closed to prevent the sun from heating up the home
  • Use fans when possible

For more tips and ways you can conserve energy, visit the Flex Alert webpage.