Benefits of sustainable landscapes for city parks
Tim Selke, park services manager for the city of Carlsbad Parks Department, said it was about two years ago when the city really started being more deliberate in its move toward sustainability. That decision, according to Selke, was “driven by a desire from the community and feedback from community members.”
The city issued an amendment to its integrated pest management plan called “organics first” that stated organics should be the first approach.
“We’ve not banned the use of chemicals, but we moved them to the far end of the spectrum,” he said.
However, Carlsbad has not had the need to use any Roundup or products containing glyphosate in parks, medians or parkways.
“Our goal was to minimize and reduce chemicals in the environment so we utilize organic products first, but if there is an infestation, we have the ability still to use the other,” he said.
Selke explained a lot of the organic herbicides are strong acids that burn the leaves off the plant, and without leaves, it lessens the weed’s ability to grow.
“There are challenges with this approach,” Selke admits. “It takes more—we have to do a few applications versus one with Roundup and it’s a little more expensive, but the general consensus is the benefits of reducing chemicals is superior to the extra cost.”
He said his department has played around with it and learned much better results could be accomplished when a weed was treated very young. Carlsbad’s landscape maintenance work is predominately done by contractors, and the city made the organics first requirement part of the bid specifications.
While the door was left open for workers to test this change and go back if they felt a need, Selke said, “There’s no desire to and no real need, so we’ll continue with the plan and it’ll be our standard.”
Other sustainable measures Carlsbad parks have taken include more string trimming, 3-inch layers of mulch in the planter beds to minimize weed growth and not over-watering.
The city has a couple of dozen parks, which entail a little over 1,000 acres of landscape to maintain. Despite the challenges mentioned, Selke highly recommends going the sustainable route.
“This is a trend of more cities and counties moving in that direction. I definitely don’t see a shift backward,” he said. “This is the direction a lot of folks are headed.”
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