• The City of Elgin designates additional parks and green spaces as Pesticide Free Zones

    The City of Elgin designates additional parks and green spaces as Pesticide Free Zones

    Elgin triples its number of Pesticide Free Zones across the city

    Elgin, IL - The City of Elgin has expanded its number of sites designated as "Pesticide Free Zones." Synthetic pesticide applications have now been discontinued at total of approximately 26.45 acres of parkland and green space citywide. A site map is available at cityofelgin.org/pesticidefree.

    “We are always looking for opportunities to offer sustainable land management practices that limit or eliminate any herbicide-related chemical exposure while still maintaining weed control and aesthetic quality in our high-visibility areas," said Parks and Facilities Superintendent Greg Hulke. "This year we identified eight new sites to designate as Pesticide Free Zones, thanks to staff's collaboration with the Elgin Sustainability Commission and non-profit sustainable landscaping initiative Midwest Grows Green."

    The eight new sites designated as Pesticide Free Zones include:
    • Corley Dr. Park
    • Marie Grolich Park
    • Kirk and Kramer Park
    • Randall Ridge Park
    • Summerhill Park
    • Trillium Park
    • Willow Creek Park
    • Congdon and Blackhawk water tower site
    Until last year, Elgin had three Pesticide Free Zones including Central Park, the "old library lot" (near the southwest corner of Kimball and Grove) and the Douglas/Ann Park (Butterfly Garden).

    In 2021, Elgin worked with Midwest Grows Green’s (MGG) team to develop a three-year management plan for a large area of turf grass at Lords Park, which now refrains from using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. MGG and the City of Elgin arranged for the delivery of 120 cubic yards of compost to improve soil quality in the area of Lords Park prior to seeding. 
    “The high organic matter content of the compost improved turf grass and soil performance at Lords Park by reducing compaction, increasing the water holding capacity and, most importantly, eliminating chemical inputs,” said Ryan Anderson, MGG’s leader and the Community IPM Manager for the IPM Institute of North America.


    This work supports many goals and objectives outlined in the City’s Sustainability Action Plan adopted in 2011 as well as the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus’ Greenest Region Compact 2 (GRC2), adopted in 2017.

    The GRC2 provides environmental sustainability goals for the region and helps guide and support cities in achieving their own sustainability initiatives. One of GRC2’s land goals provides an advanced strategy to “manage lawns using natural products and low-impact practices.” Having these Pesticide Free Zones is one step toward achieving that goal here in Elgin.

    There are also a  number of “No Mow Zones” in Elgin. Over the years, the City has also worked to reduce the number of herbicide treatments on all its public properties, while maintaining its appearance and controlling costs. 

    MGG offers recommendations to manage your lawn naturally, effectively and safely include:
    • Water Deeply and Infrequently: This encourages deep root growth. Aim for one inch per week. You can easily measure that amount by placing a cup in your yard while watering. You’re done watering for the week when the cup fills one inch deep. Water early in the morning to minimize disease problems.
    • Mow High: Keep your lawn mowed at three inches or higher (but not higher than 8 inches per city code). This increases root strength and naturally shades out weeds, so your grass withstands drought and stays green longer. Don’t mow unless needed.
    • Use Organic Fertilizer: Commercial fertilizers easily wash away, polluting nearby lakes and streams. Many contain toxic weed killers. Choose an organic fertilizer to capture and deliver nutrients in the lawn throughout the growing season. Keep grass clippings on the lawn as they provide an excellent natural fertilizer.
    • Weed Naturally: Proper lawn care maintenance naturally eliminates most weeds. Annual reseeding gives grass an advantage over weeds. Avoid using pesticides, as they can harm other beneficial living things such as bees, worms, and birds. The right tool makes quick work of weeding. After pulling weeds, use grass seed and soil to fill in the hole. Your grass will grow strong and healthy as a result.
    To learn more about sustainable landscaping and apply these practices to your own lawn, please visit and take the MGG pledge at bit.ly/MGGpldg.