Portion of Lords Park in Elgin designated as pesticide-free
Elgin has designated three acres of turf grass at Lords Park as herbicide- and pesticide-free.
The area, at the northeast corner of the park, will be maintained with natural lawn care management.
"Staff continually evaluates its ability to increase the number of pesticide-free zones in the city when department resources provide opportunities to do so," Parks and Facilities Superintendent Greg Hulke said.
Midwest Grows Green, a nonprofit, sustainable landscaping initiative, developed a three-year management plan after testing and assessing the property last fall. The plan to limit chemical exposure while maintaining weed control and aesthetic quality in high-visibility areas supports the city's goals outlined in its 2011 Sustainability Action Plan and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus' Greenest Region Compact 2, which was adopted in 2017.
"Our NLC approach 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 killing product," Ryan Anderson of Midwest Grows Green said in a news release.
To disrupt the life cycle of pests and weeds in the area, Elgin will raise its mowing height, do core aeration in the spring and fall and utilize a 100% organic fertilization program. Midwest Grows Green is arranging for 100 cubic yards of compost to be delivered this fall to improve soil quality.
The city plans to install new interpretive signage in the area that shares natural lawn care tips and resources. It also provided a series of steps residents can take to manage their lawn naturally.
• Water deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth, aiming for one inch per week.
• Mow your grass high (about three inches) to increase root strength and shade out weeds.
• Use organic fertilizer to deliver nutrients to the lawn throughout growing season. Commercial fertilizers can wash away, polluting nearby lakes and streams.
• Avoid using pesticides and instead pull weeds manually, filling the hole with soil and grass seed.
"We hope all Elgin residents learn about the benefits of natural lawn care techniques and find ways to implement them in their own yards to both promote healthy lawns and improve the quality of Elgin waterways," Mayor David Kaptain said in the release.