The City of Urbana and Urbana Park District to pilot a chemical free lawn program!

No pesticides, no “Keep off the Grass” signs, and no environmental and health risks.  That’s what the future will look like with the new Midwest Grows Green natural lawn care initiative adopted by both the City of Urbana and Urbana Park District this fall.

“The City of Urbana strives to keep our community a healthy place for everyone to enjoy,” said Mayor Diane Marlin. “Helping residents reduce use of synthetic lawn pesticides and fertilizers provides a safer environment for people, pets, and our rivers and streams.”

Starting in the spring of 2018, the City of Urbana will eliminate use of all synthetic pesticides and fertilizers on the City Building’s South Lawn.  The Urbana Park District will join the City by continuing to limit their synthetic chemical use at all parks and sharing the natural gardening message at the Meadowbrook Park Organic Garden and other parks.

“The Urbana Park District uses an integrated approach to pest management for its flower beds and sports fields. And we have a long history of promoting sustainability through our natural areas and our organic gardening program,” said Tim Bartlett, Urbana Parks District Executive Director. “We encourage the use of natural control methods whenever possible and support growing that effort in Urbana.”

Both the City and Park District implemented this program in collaboration with the environmental non-profit Midwest Pesticide Action Center (MPAC) due to rising concerns of pesticide use in urban and residential areas. Scientific studies have linked pesticides to various behavioral, reproductive, immune, and nervous system disorders.

“These risks are most dangerous for our children, who are still developing and exhibit behaviors, such as putting grass in their mouths, that make them susceptible to exposure,” said Ruth Kerzee, Executive Director of MPAC.

Natural lawn care practices applied at the City Building and Urbana parks focus on disrupting the life cycle of pests and weeds and restoring rich, vibrant soil, the essential building block for healthy grass.

“The natural lawn care approach stresses and addresses the root causes of weed and pest problems such as poor soil drainage, nutrient deficiency, or soil compaction, as opposed to the symptoms of just applying a weed or pest product,” said Kerzee.

Together, the City, Park District, and MPAC will demonstrate the natural lawn care approach on Saturday, September 16th at the City Building’s south lawn across the street from Urbana’s Market at the Square (400 S Vine St.).  From 10 am to 11:45 am, experts from MPAC will host interactive, informative games covering different aspects of the natural lawn care approach. Following the games at 11:45 am, both Mayor Marlin and Director Bartlett will kickoff the natural lawn care programs of the City and Park District with short presentations and a raffle for Patagonia outdoor clothing and gear.

Visit MPAC’s Midwest Grows Green website (see to learn more about the natural lawn care approach and make an actionable commitment to reduce your own synthetic lawn pesticide and fertilizer use by taking the MGG pledge (visit


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