Midwest Grows Green: Pesticide-Free Parks

The Pesticide-Free Parks program helps park managers implement sustainable turf management practices, thereby reducing the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers to lessen their impact on the health of people, pets, and the environment. The Pesticide-Free Parks program works as an educational tool to inform the community about natural lawn care and highlight the park management’s commitment to healthful and environmentally responsible gathering spaces for the community.

Through a public/private partnership with Greenwise and the City of Evanston,  MGG launched the first pesticide-free park program with the designation of five parks as pesticide-free. MGG created  and distributed posters and other information materials throughout Evanston’s parks to promote the program.  In addition, MGG drafted a press release that was picked up by over 18 media outlets, providing the program with exposure and positive feedback. Since, thhe Pesticide-Free Parks program has spread to other communities across the Midwest.

What is a pesticide-free park?

We define a pesticide-free park as one that is maintained under the principals of natural lawn care. Natural lawn care uses a combination of sustainable practices and natural products to promote an optimal relationship between plants and soil, making lawns naturally more resistant to weeds, insects and diseases without the use of synthetic chemicals or fertilizers.

The basics of natural lawn care include:

  • Mowing high to shade out weeds.
  • Choosing the right species with characteristics designed to adapt to the current climate and conditions of the planting area.
  • Using natural fertilizers for slower nutrient release, which feeds the soil and helps prevent runoff.
  • Watering correctly at 1 inch per week to encourage strong deep roots and discourage pests.

What are the components of a MGG Pesticide-Free Park?

1. A park maintained without the use of synthetic pesticides for at least one year through collaboration with a local landscaping company, or by training park management personnel and purchasing products for natural lawn care maintenance.

2. A press release covered by local media outlets to draw community attention to the initiative. Spreading the word about your pesticide-free park can raise awareness in your community and inspire homeowners to go pesticide-free on their own lawns, multiplying the positive effects on health and the environment.

3. Long-term signage to let the community know that the park is being managed without the use of harmful chemicals.

Receive Technical Assistance

Our Technical Assistance Program has helped many Midwest parks, schools and greenspaces transition away from synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

For more information about this and other Midwest Grows Green programs, contact Ryan Anderson at randerson@ipminstitute.org and “Midwest Grows Green” as the subject.  Or, call us at (773) 878-8245.

Play at our Pesticide- Free Parks

We have implemented more than 20 Pesticide-Free Parks across the Midwest. Visit one of the parks in this map, take off your shoes and play a while!