The City of Evanston will launch its first pesticide-free parks pilot program with Adopt-a-Park partner and local business, Greenwise Organic Lawn Care. Five Evanston parks will be maintained without the use of pesticides during the one-year program: Ackerman (Central St. & McDaniel), Burnham Shores (between Dempster & Hamilton), Eiden, (Sherman & Custer) Perry (1741 Hovland Ct.) and Trahan (Ridge & Monroe).

Instead of using pesticide treatments, the City will work with alternative weed-control methods, such as mowing high to increase root strength and naturally shade out weeds, in addition to improving soil health for natural weed resistance.

“The City of Evanston strives to keep our parks a healthy place for all our residents and visitors to enjoy, and we are excited to launch this pesticide-free parks pilot program, which is our largest Adopt-a-Park partnership to date,” said the City’s Public Works Department Assistant Director Paul D’Agostino.

The overuse and misuse of pesticides is a significant reason why chemicals find their way into the region’s lakes, rivers, and streams. Evanston’s pesticide-free parks pilot program will mark the fifth anniversary of the City’s Pesticide Reduction Policy, which solidified Evanston’s commitment to protect the health of families and the environment by significantly decreasing the application of pesticides in public spaces.

If successful in its first year, the pilot program will be extended and could be expanded to include more parks in the future.

As the pilot program begins, Evanston residents are encouraged to follow the City’s example and try these four simple, cost-effective natural lawn care tips in their own yards (See sidebar):

Natural Lawn Care Tips

Water 1” Per Week: Water deeply no more than once a week. This practice encourages deep root growth. To measure, place an empty tuna or water chestnut can in your yard while watering. When your sprinkler fills it, your watering for the week is done. Water early in the morning to minimize disease problems.

Mow 3” High: Keep your lawn cut at three inches or higher to increase root strength and naturally shade out weeds. Don’t mow your lawn unless it needs it.Use Organic Fertilizers: Synthetic fertilizers easily wash away, polluting nearby lakes and streams. Many contain toxic weed killers. Choose an organic fertilizer like compost or alfalfa meal to capture and deliver nutrients in the lawn throughout the growing season. Take a soil test to know exactly what nutrients your lawn needs. Mulch and keep grass clippings on the lawn for an extra boost.

Weed Naturally: Proper lawn care maintenance naturally eliminates most weeds. Avoid using synthetic herbicides and pesticides, as they can harm other beneficial living things such as bees, birds, butterflies, and fish. The right tool makes quick work of weeding. After pulling weeds, use grass seed mixed with topsoil to fill in the hole.

For more information, please contact Paul D’Agostino at 847-448-8060.