Chicago Park District Continues to Limit Use of Pesticides in Parks for 8th Year


Each spring, park patrons may see dandelions growing in their neighborhood parks throughout Chicago, signifying a chemical free park safe for play. For the eighth year, the Chicago Park District will partner with the Midwest Pesticide Action Center (MPAC) to limit its use of pesticides and offer park visitors safer and healthier parks.


In an effort to minimize impact on health and the environment, close to 90 percent of Chicago parks avoid spraying weed control chemicals. The 198.98 acre Calumet Park, one of the hundreds of Chicago parks not using herbicides on its lawn, will feature signs describing the natural lawn care approach. The three signs designed and installed as part of MPAC’s Midwest Grows Green (MGG) initiative list natural lawn care practices used by the Chicago Park District and directs park users to more natural lawn care resources.   


“The Park District strives to keep our parks a healthy place for everyone to enjoy,” said Mike Kelly, Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO. “We hope all Chicago residents follow the Park District’s example, using natural lawn care techniques in an effort to keep their lawn safe and healthy.”


Following natural lawn care basics, the Park District keeps the grass three inches high. This allows the roots to grow strong and access water deep in the ground. As a result, the taller grass naturally shades out some weeds. The Park District manages pesky dandelions naturally using scheduled mowing and reminds the public that the sight of dandelions indicates a safe space for all park patrons to play.


Multiple Chicago parks serve as examples for natural and proper lawn care. This includes Gompers Park, where MPAC alongside the North Mayfair Improvement Association and the Friends of Chicago River hosted a MGG Kickoff Event last November that covered different aspects of natural lawn care in interactive, educational games. Keep track of future MGG Kickoff events hosted at Chicago Park District locations by following MPAC’s Facebook page or Twitter account.  


“Midwest Pesticide Action Center is thrilled to include the Chicago Park District as part of our Midwest Grows Green network showing the district’s commitment to limit the use of pesticides to create healthy places to play,” said Ruth Kerzee, Executive Director of MPAC. “Follow these four simple and cost-effective tips, and you too can enjoy a beautiful yard safe for children, pets, and the environment.”


Four Natural Lawn Care Tips

·         Water Deeply and Infrequently: This encourages deep root growth. Aim for one inch per week. You can easily measure that amount by placing a cup in your yard while watering. You’re done watering for the week when the cup fills one inch deep. Water early in the morning to minimize disease problems.

·         Mow High: Keep your lawn mowed at three inches or higher. This increases root strength and naturally shades out weeds, so your grass withstands drought and stays green longer. Don’t mow unless needed.

·         Use Organic Fertilizer: Commercial fertilizers easily wash away, polluting nearby lakes and streams. Many contain toxic weed killers. Choose an organic fertilizer to capture and deliver nutrients in the lawn throughout the growing season. Keep grass clippings on the lawn as they provide an excellent natural fertilizer.  

·         Weed Naturally: Proper lawn care maintenance naturally eliminates most weeds. Annual reseeding gives grass an advantage over weeds. Avoid using pesticides, as they can harm other beneficial living things such as bees, birds, and fish. The right tool makes quick work of weeding. After pulling weeds, use grass seed and soil to fill in the hole. Your grass will grow strong and healthy as a result.


Interested in more ways to keep your lawn and home landscape healthy and safe for children, pets, and wildlife? Take MPAC’s Midwest Grows Green pledge and receive up-to-date natural lawn care tips, resources, and updates. For more information, visit:​y-engagement/take-the-pledge/


Midwest Pesticide Action Center

Midwest Pesticide Action Center is the only Midwest organization dedicated to protecting people and the environment from the serious impacts of pesticides. Based in Chicago, Midwest Pesticide Action Center works to implement long-term policy changes and to develop innovative, model programs for indoor and outdoor pesticide use reduction.


For more information about Midwest Pesticide Action Center and Midwest Grows Green please visit


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