Striving to provide environmental and beautification benefits to the public by planting trees, shrubs and turfgrass on public properties.

The Plant Health Care Program is designed to maintain healthy and vigorous park plantings beneficial to the public.

Cultural Practices:

Turf:

1. Mow high – 3.5 to 4 inches. Mowing high chokes out weeds and reduces turf stress. Cut with a sharp blade to avoid disease.
2. Do not bag clippings. Recycled clippings return nutrients to the soil.
3. Aerate soil to improve movement of air, water, and nutrients in the turf root zone.
4. Reseed bare areas and overseed turf areas with certified weed-free seed. Select proper species for site and climate. Fall seeding is excellent for rebuilding turf.
5. Use natural slow-release fertilizers in high-use areas to sustain healthy turf on a consistent basis.

Landscape:

1. Select proper plants for the site and climate. Group plants based on water, fertilizer, and care requirements.
2. Prepare soil prior to planting to promote root growth.
3. Practice proper watering, mulching, fertilizing, and pruning techniques. This allows growing healthy, vigorous plants by reducing the environmental stress factors.
4. Monitor pests on susceptible host plants and adjust maintenance program to accommodate field conditions.
5. Remove plants with extensive insect and disease problems.

Evaluation:

1. Monitor effectiveness of cultural and chemical practices.
2. Field checks are regularly conducted to monitor pest problems.
3. Determine if the problem warrants treatment.
4. Establish sustainable and tolerable levels of undesirable pests and still maintain good health and appearance of the parks.
5. Understand Kansas is in a transitional climate zone and our plants may be exposed to additional stress. This requires more frequent monitoring of pests.

Education/licensing:

1. Staff receive continuing education to learn about plant selections.
2. Staff receive continuing education about current less-toxic products.
3. Staff are taught to properly identify pest problems.
4. All pesticides are applied under the direction of certified applicators.

Treatment program:

1. Pesticide application is used only when cultural practices are not adequate to control pests or disease problems.
2. Select least-toxic alternatives when chemicals are necessary for control.
3. Staff members are licensed applicators and responsibly follow label directions according to the law and EPA Guidelines.
4. Practice spot treatment – treating only affected areas and using strategies that are sensitive to the needs of the public and the environment.
5. Signs are posted when applications are being made to inform the public. Applications are also scheduled during non-peak times of park use.
6. The Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department follows a National Park Standard of Excellence. This means levels of tolerated damage to plants by pests are different in different parks. The level of horticulture or turf maintenance is adjusted accordingly and we do not spray every pest in every park.

What we are doing:

Minimizing the use of any toxic or hazardous materials in the maintenance and operation of parks to the extent possible, using the following methods.

1. Cultural practices to reduce necessity of chemical pest control.
2. Evaluation of current practices by using a results oriented process.
3. Continuing education for staff.
4. Selective treatment program.
5. Setting future goals for program and striving to achieve them.

Future Goals Include:

1. Reducing use of pesticides and any related costs without compromising the Plant Health Care Program, aesthetic quality, or recreational needs of our park system.
2. Seeking less hazardous alternatives to conventional synthetic pesticides to improve public benefits.
3. Periodic review of results and progress made by staff and others.

Please direct questions or informational requests to the Horticulture (785)832-7970 or Turf Management Divisions (785-832-7971) of the Parks and Recreation Department, parksrec@lawrenceks.org.