Chicago Park District Continues to Limit Use of Pesticides in Parks

5/11/2015

Each spring, park patrons may see dandelions growing in their neighborhood parks throughout Chicago, signifying a chemical free park that’s safe for play.  The Chicago Park District for a sixth year is partnering with Midwest Pesticide Action Center to offer park visitors a safer and healthier park by limiting the use of pesticides throughout the district.

Close to 90 percent of Chicago parks avoid the use of chemicals that are sprayed to control weeds.  This is done in an effort to minimize the impact on our environment.

"The Park District strives to keep our Chicago parks a healthy place for everyone to enjoy," said Mike Kelly, Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO. "We use natural lawn care techniques that helps keep the parks safe and healthy."

The Chicago Park District mows turf grass to keep weeds down.  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.  Even after being cut, dandelion flowers are persistent and sometimes grow back overnight.  However, the sight of dandelions indicates the grass is safe for all park patrons to play on!

"Midwest Pesticide Action Center applauds the Chicago Park District’s commitment to limit the use of pesticides in order to create healthy places to play," says Ruth Kerzee, Executive Director of Midwest Pesticide Action Center.  "Follow these four simple and cost-effective tips, and you too can enjoy a beautiful yard that is safe for children, pets, and the environment."

Four Natural Lawn Care Tips

  • Water Deeply and Infrequently: This encourages deep root growth. One inch per week is ideal. You can easily measure that amount by placing a cup in your yard while watering. When your sprinkler fills it one inch deep, your watering for the week is done.  Water early in the morning to minimize disease problems.
  • Mow High: Keep your lawn mowed at three inches or higher.  This will increase the root strength and naturally shade out weeds.  Don’t mow your lawn unless it needs it.  This creates healthy grass that can withstand drought and stay green longer.
  • 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 are 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 lawn will be strong and healthy as a result.

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 its 20th anniversary celebration this year, please visit midwestpesticideaction.org.

 

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