Cities adopt mulch alternative to keep weeds out of gardens, parks

3:49 PM, Jun 18, 2012   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - The people in charge of pesticide use in California are pushing communities to go pesticide free.

In Davis, the city controls weeds in parks by prolonging the life of mulch. Newspapers and card board help keep the ground covered, which slows weeds from growing; heavy plastic is another option.

This process heats the ground and serves as the knockout punch for weed problems in parks.

"What this does, is it either outright kills it or debilitates them to the point where the germination is reduced and you have kind of a fumigation if you will- through a solar process," Integrated Pest Management Specialist Martin Guerena said.

Some communities are almost pesticide free like Marin County in the Bay Area.

The state monitors pesticide use and offers grants of up to $300,000 to help keep those efforts alive.

"The state actually goes and monitors the progress, works with the organization that wins the grant; and we can also use the results of their successes," Dept. of Pesticide Regulation spokesperson Paul Verke said. "So, we can use that as a model and adopt it in other areas."

Davis is also pushing growers in its community garden on 5th Street to become pesticide free.

The trade off is usually a few more weeds or a park that isn't perfectly green and even.

"People are very interested in that, they're very excited to learn the state is interested in their environment and are protecting their health," Verke said.

A growing number of California cities are taking advantage of the grant program including San Jose and Los Angeles.

In fact, last week the Bay Area city of Richmond took another step toward passing an ordinance that would ban the use of some pesticides and reduce the use of others.    

"You have children playing, people playing tennis and out here playing soccer; so where you have a high inner face with the public be it waterways or parks, the state is looking at those areas very closely," Verke said.

Certifications from the state are also proving valuable in some cities. It allows those cities to promote their parks as low pesticide or chemical free zones.


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