Greenwise Pesticide-Free Parks Program

Written by Greenwise Team
Published on April 7, 2023

Greenwise loves its hometown! Evanston has been a great partner to us since we opened our doors back in 2007. To thank the community that has supported and grown with us, Greenwise partnered with the City of Evanston to launch the Pesticide-Free Parks Program (PFP Program) in 2014.

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“Greenwise loves this opportunity to give back to the community we call home and is thrilled to partner with the City of Evanston to promote organic land management. This is a great way to tell the folks of Evanston to get out and enjoy your parks!”

~Marc Wise, Greenwise founder

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The PFP pilot program began with Greenwise maintaining five Evanston parks without the use of pesticides during a one-year test season. The parks are Ackerman, Burnham Shores, Eiden, Perry, and Trahan. We are now looking for another park to add–if you have ideas, we’d love to hear from you.

According to city officials, the parks ended up looking fantastic.

“The City of Evanston strives to keep our parks a healthy place for all our residents and visitors to enjoy. We are excited to support this Pesticide-Free Parks Pilot Program, which is our largest partnership to date. We really appreciate Greenwise’s generosity.”

~ Paul D’Agostino, Evanston’s Public Works Department Director

The pilot program proved to be such a success that Evanston wants to expand the number of parks included. Also, the Parks & Recreation Department will be offering activities and programs at the pesticide-free park locations. In 2016, the city added the Evanston Animal Shelter to the PFP.

Here’s How the Pesticide-Free Parks Program Works:

Instead of using pesticide treatments, the City employs 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.

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The overuse and misuse of pesticides cause water pollution. Residential fertilizers are a major culprit in chemicals finding their way into the region’s lakes, rivers, and streams. Launching Evanston’s pesticide-free parks pilot program marked the 5th anniversary of the City’s Pesticide Reduction Policy. This policy solidified Evanston’s commitment to protecting the health of families and the environment by significantly decreasing the application of pesticides in public spaces.

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We encourage Evanston residents to follow the City’s example and try these four simple, cost-effective natural lawn care tips in their own yards:

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. Mowing high increases root strength and naturally shades 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 corn gluten meal. Organics work wonderfully to capture and deliver nutrients to 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. 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.

Find out why organic lawns matter!