Organic battle planned against dandelions

The City of Red Deer is going organic in its fight to curb dandelions this year.

Politicians talk about a ban on 'cosmetic pesticides

Politicians talk about a ban on 'cosmetic pesticides

The City of Red Deer is going organic in its fight to curb dandelions this year.

Starting this summer, the city will embark on its $40,000 pilot project that tests the use of top dressing in its dandelion control measures.

City of Red Deer parks superintendent Trevor Poth said this year the city will spray pesticide and top dress over the treated areas.

“We will continue to use a certain amount of chemical treatment through the park system,” said Poth.

“They will spray some of the areas that have not been sprayed in a long time. Once they are sprayed, we will top dress over them and basically re-seed or strengthen the grass that is on those areas.”

Residents do not have to go far if they want to see what is possible with a pesticide free lawn.

City Hall Park is completely pesticide free.

The city has reduced its pesticide use over the last 20 years by 75 per cent under the Environmental Master Plan. The city has a target to reduce the use of pesticide by two per cent between 2010 and 2015; five per cent by 2020 and 10 per cent by 2035.

“Historically, what we have done is focused our chemical application on roadways and non-use public areas because we didn’t want to constantly use pesticides on areas that were frequented by children,” said Poth.

The trade-off, said Poth, is that some of the parks have been overrun with dandelions over the years. A new focus on turf health will help prevent dandelions growing back. The city believes it can meet these targets while improving service at the same time.

“We are expecting to reduce the dandelion population across the city and that would include playgrounds and areas where the public has voiced complaints over dandelions in previous years,” said Poth.

The early pilot spraying will get underway in either June or July. The majority of the spraying will be done in the fall.

The province removed dandelions from the Weed Act and Regulations, resulting in changes to city practices with respect to dandelion management.

Red Deer city council approved $40,000 — $20,000 in 2013 and $20,000 in 2014 — for the pilot last summer. Each year, the program will be evaluated.

Poth said if you were to take the total area of parks and calculate the use of pesticides, it converts to two tablespoons of pesticides for an average residential lot. He said the city would like to see residents reduce their pesticide use.

“If they are using less than two tablespoons of pesticides on their yard per year, that’s what we are able to do in the city’s park systems,” he said. “That’s a very good thing.”