Midwest Grows Green: Pesticide-Free Parks

The Pesticide-Free Parks program helps park managersDandelion Headband 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, MPAC launched the first pesticide-free park program with the with the designation of five parks as pesticide-free. MPAC created posters and other information materials distributed throughout Evanston’s parks to promote the program.  In addition, MPAC drafted a press release that was picked up by over 18 media outlets, providing the program with exposure and positive feedback. Our hope is to grow the Pesticide-Free Parks (PFP) program in 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:African girl play crawling through tube in park

    • 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 MWGG Pesticide-Free Park?

vacker_sign_image1. 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.

Return to the Midwest Grows Green homepage to learn more about how reducing the use of pesticides by adopting natural lawn care can benefit the health of your community and the environment.


Guide to a Pesticide-Free Park

This guide provides information on how to participate in the Midwest Grows Green Pesticide-Free Parks program.

Guide to a Pesticide-Free Park cover image

Click to view the Guide.














For more information about this and other Midwest Grows Green programs, contact Ryan Anderson at randerson@pesticideaction.org and “Midwest Grows Green” as the subject.  Or, call us at (773) 878-7378.