Capitol in Carson City gets a new yard |

Capitol in Carson City gets a new yard

The Capitol grounds is receiving a new lawn.
Geoff Dornan / Nevada Appeal |

The Capitol has a new lawn.

Crews from Signature Landscapes and Western Turf put the finishing touches on some 50,000 square feet of sod Friday afternoon.

Grounds Supervisor Marty Phillips said after years of nursing the old grass and trying to prevent bare spots on what is arguably the prettiest square block in Carson City, it was finally necessary to just tear out the old lawn in front of the Capitol.

He said to do it right, that also meant removing and replacing all the sprinklers.

Signature Landscapes did the sod replacement for $79,000.

The work on the sprinklers was handled by Buildings and Grounds employees on Phillips’ crew.

Some of those old sprinklers were the original brass Rainbird heads attached to metal pipes and ancient valves that had likely been in the ground since the Capitol was completely remodeled in 1978-79. Altogether, Phillips said his Buildings and Grounds crew replaced nearly 250 sprinklers with new, high-efficiency heads.

While they were doing that, he said they put new conduit with electrical service in the ground so if the old electrical wiring fails, they don’t have to dig up the newly planted grounds to replace it.

But since it will take more than a month to adjust all those new sprinklers, passersby can expect to get a bit damp even though they’re on the sidewalks.

“We’re watering heavily now but we’ll probably cut back on times once it (the sod) takes,” said Clint Ricketts of Signature Landscapes.

He said to do the job right, his crew not only took out all the old grass but just about 300 cubic yards of bad soil. They replaced it with 290 cubic yards of premium topsoil as a bed for the new sod.

The old grass, Ricketts said, was mostly the type of grass that needs full sun. Under the thick canopy of 100-plus year-old trees, that wasn’t working. The new grass, he said, is “shade tolerant fescue” that should do much better.

“But it’s always tough to grow in the shade,” he said.

Ricketts said he’ll be back to make sure everything is doing well.

“I cannot lose this grass,” he said. “There’s no way I can have something go wrong.”

Ricketts said a number of passersby have commented on the project, telling him and his crew it’s good to see the state taking care of the Capitol grounds.

Phillips said the project isn’t done yet. He said next he will “take out” some of the plants that shouldn’t be on the grounds and in the flower beds surrounding the sandstone Capitol. Too many of them, he said, are “sun plants.”

“We’ll take out some of the sun plants and replace with shade plants.”

He said that means dogwood and other plants that don’t want full sun instead of the plum trees he had to remove from the south side of the building.

He said the goal is to put some thought into what should be where.

“I love this place,” said Phillips.

The new lawn is just the latest in a series of projects at the Capitol. Just a couple of weeks ago, Healthy Trees pruned and cleaned up more than 100 of the trees on the grounds, including the huge elms planted 141 years ago around the perimeter along the historic wrought iron fence.

Before that, the ADA wheelchair ramp behind the Capitol was replaced — a mandatory project since it didn’t come close to meeting federal legal requirements.

Also, the Blasdel building adjacent to the Capitol has gotten a new HVAC system and major electrical upgrades.

Next on the list is $1.875 million worth of work on the windows, doors and exterior of the Capitol. That project is funded in the Capital Improvement Projects list for the coming biennium. B&G officials say it’s badly needed since some of those historic windows are leaking, the doors won’t seal properly and the sandstone blocks that make up the Capitol’s walls need repainting.