Maintaining Healthy Parks

As green refuges in urban landscapes, parks provide necessary places for children to play, athletic facilities for sports teams, spaces for bicyclists and runners, and gathering places for families. Parks should provide safe, healthy places; however, many parks use pesticides on playgrounds and sports fields, along fence lines, and even to create grass-free zones around trees.

Midwest Pesticide Action Center works to ensure safe and healthy parks for everyone. We engage with communities and park districts across the Midwest to reduce pesticide use and models in demonstrating how to manage green spaces in a healthy way for both people and the environment.

Continue reading for for: A Healthy Park is a Natural Park

A Healthy Park is a Natural Park

Healthy Parks Campaign ChicagoMidwest Pesticide Action Center created the A Healthy Park is a Natural Park campaign, an outreach initiative designed to help communities adopt sustainable landscape maintenance practices that do not rely on the use of toxic chemicals.

The campaign helps address aesthetic concerns by emphasizing that the presence of dandelions in a park does not mean neglect, but a healthier park and safer place to play.

  • The first A Healthy Park is a Natural Park campaign launched in Chicago during the spring of 2009 through a partnership with the largest municipal park manager in the country, the Chicago Park District.
  • The Chicago Park District refined their landscape-maintenance practices to prevent the use of chemicals in 90 percent of Chicago’s 570 parks, raise awareness about the dangers of pesticide use in public spaces, increase the demand from residents for sustainably maintained parks, and save money.
  • Over the last four years, the campaign prevented the use of 66,125 pounds of pesticide-active ingredients.
  • By not spraying weed killer, the City saves $1.4 million per application.
  • The campaign helped reduce community complaints about dandelions by 90 percent.

“The Park District strives to keep our Chicago parks a healthy place for everyone to enjoy. We are encouraging all Chicago residents to follow the Park District’s example and use more natural lawn care techniques that keeps your lawn safe and healthy.”

– Mike Kelly, Superintendent and CEO, Chicago Park District

In spring of 2012, the campaign expanded when Boulder, Colorado, adopted it to eliminate the use of synthetic chemicals on park property. In the last two years, the ongoing campaign, renamed as Healthy Parks = Healthy People continues to grow. View a video released in 2013 by the City of Boulder for details on the program, and download Boulder’s Healthy Park Flier.

“We all really love this idea for addressing complaints about dandelions. You can take your child to the park and let your baby crawl around on the grass and let your dog roll around on the grass and know that they are not going to be exposed to synthetic pesticides which studies have now shown are linked to cancer in children and dogs.”

– Rella Abernathy, Integrated Pest Management Coordinator, Community Planning & Sustainability, City of Boulder

For More Information

Contact: If interested in introducing the A Natural Park is a Healthy Park campaign to your community, contact us at

Activist’s Toolkit: For information on advocating for healthy spaces in your community. Learn More

Midwest Grows Green: For information on reducing the climate impacts associated with lawn and garden care. Learn More

What You Can Do: For tips on what you can do to promote healthy spaces in your community and home. Learn More

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