Videos from February workshop now available*

SPCP is happy to announce that we now have web videos available from the first day of our Natural Lawn Care for Turf Professionals and Landscapers workshop that was held this past February. Whether you need a refresher about the basics of natural lawn care, or are discovering the benefits of a natural lawn for the first time, these videos have something for everybody.

Morning: Video 1 , Video 2 , Video 3 , and Video 4 .

Afternoon: Video 5 , Video 6 , and Video 7 .

* Please note that due to the formatting constraints of this content, an individual speaker’s presentation may appear over several videos. Speakers appear in chronological order. The video content remains the property of the speakers and is not available for download. Video is offered here for educational purposes only and may only be viewed through this website.


Spring Workshops Scheduled Across Chicagoland Region

Just in time for the spring green, Safer Pet Control Project is conducting a series of workshops on natural lawn care in May and June. These workshops are designed to introduce homeowners to the key concepts and terms in natural lawn care. Participants will gain a better understanding about the hazards of traditional lawn care and how going natural is a better choice for the environment, public health and the lawn itself. Natural lawn care creates healthy soil that leads to healthy turf, requiring less maintenance and inputs over time.

Questions will be answered. Catch us at any of these events:

May 31st
Chicago Center for Green Technology, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 445 N. Sacramento, Chicago, IL 60612. To register call 312-746-9642. Visit Chicago’s Department of Environment website.

June 7th
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. McCormick Room, 2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL 60614. To register call 773-755-5191, ext. 1 or e-mail [email protected]


Sold out workshop highlights basics for creating naturally healthy turf

Safer Pest Control Project held Illinois’ first ever Natural Lawn Care for Professional Turf Managers and Landscapers, on February 20th and 21st, 2008. The sold-out workshop featured turf experts from across the country speaking about their experiences using a natural lawn care approach. Speakers included Chip Osborne of Osborne Organics and Doug Wood of Grassroots Healthy Lawn Program. The workshop was split into two sections—Business and Municipal—with informative sessions on athletic turf, marketing a natural lawn care business and native landscaping.

Part of the workshop was video taped and will shortly be available to the public on this website. In addition, SPCP will be visiting areas across the Great Lakes region, to educate homeowners and government officials about the benefits of natural lawn care and how to get started. If you are interested in learning more please contact Steve Pincuspy, Senior Program Associate, at 773-878-7378 x. 203.


Pesticides kill indiscriminately, killing pests along with their natural insect predators. This leads to the irony of pesticide use: once insect predators are eliminated, pest populations grow unchecked – leading to ever-greater pesticide applications. Utilizing the basic principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), you can take charge of your home and garden without the use of pesticides and inspire others to do the same.

The facts of pesticide use in the home and garden are very surprising:
Each year 67 million pounds of pesticides are applied to lawns.

Suburban lawns and gardens receive far heavier pesticide applications per acre than most agricultural areas.

Most consumers don’t realize how potentially harmful they can be:
Children are particularly vulnerable to pesticides, and the most likely to be exposed to lawn pesticides. Children living in homes using pesticides (indoor or outdoor) are at higher risk for developing brain cancer, childhood leukemia, lymphoma, and asthma.

Pesticides are easily tracked indoors — an EPA study found 23 pesticides in dust and air inside homes.

Lawn chemicals can harm pets. Dog owners who use the herbicide 2,4,-D four or more times per season, double their dog’s risk of developing lymphoma.

Garden chemicals harm the environment. The U.S. Geological Survey routinely finds every type of garden chemical – particularly weed killers – in the streams and rivers around urban centers.

Safer Pest Control Project (SPCP) offers alternatives to pesticides and maintains lists of lawn care professionals who can provide non-toxic lawn care.

National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, Urban Pest Management, 1980
Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 83 (17): 1226, 1991
Beyond Pesticides, Health Effects of 36 Commonly Used Lawn Pesticides, updated 2002.
Green, Emily “Bees are Paying Price for our Perfect Roses, Chicago Tribune, (August 1, 2004)
Daniels, Julie L. et al. “Pesticides and Childhood Cancers.” Environmental Health Perspectives 105 (1997): 1068-1077.


A Simple Guide to Creating a Healthy Lawn

Download this new fact sheet created by the National Coalition for Pesticide Free Lawns. Weeds can tell you a lot about the conditio of your lawn and indicate what you need in order to grow a healthy organic lawn. Read Your Weeds-A Simple Guide to Creating a Healthy Lawn


Let everyone know that your yard is pesticide free and pet and child friendly by posting a pesticide free zone sign. You can post these signs at schools, parks, and businesses.

Ideally, pesticide free means that no chemical pest controls at all are used. However, we consider the use of organically certified materials and EPA-exempt pesticides to be compatible with our philosophy because we want to encourage manufacturers to develop safer products. If the sign accurately reflects your practices, you can purchase it from SPCP.

The signs are eight-inch diameter aluminum signs that will last through harsh winters and hot summers. Each sign costs $10.00 which includes shipping and instructions for posting. Use our order form (at right) to place your order. Call about discounts for larger orders.

This sign comes with two factsheets: Talking to Your Neighbors About Pesticides and Pesticide Free Zone Yard Sign, including display instructions.



2 Day Workshop for Turf Pros in February

SPCP is pleased to announce Natural Lawn Care for Professional Turf Managers and Landscapers, February 20th and 21st, 2008 at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, Illinois. The first of its kind in Illinois, this 2-day workshop will outline natural techniques for turf maintenance that can yield lush lawns while safeguarding the public and enhancing business prospects.

For more details or to register please visit www.spcpweb.org/training or contact Steve Pincuspy at 773-878-7378 ext. 203



SPCP and over two hundred other organizations across the country have coordinated a large scale effort to promote the use of natural lawncare. Check out the new website to sign a declaration (www.pesticidefreelawns.org) and find great information on alternatives to pesticides for the garden. The Pesticide Free Zone sign is a national symbol for this effort.


In general, parks have landscaping that requires a significant amount of effort to maintain. Unfortunately, this often means that pesticides are used to reduce weeds and unwanted insects. To, SPCP’s manual, “Integrated Pest Management for Park Districts: Increasing the Effectiveness and Reducing the Risk of Pest Management”, provides alternatives that reduce the amount of pesticides used.

This manual provides practical information on safe and effective methods of controlling weeds, turf and plant diseases, and common pests. It also includes steps outlining the transition into an IPM program, provides additional resources, and contains a list of IPM product suppliers.

Ask if your Park District practices IPM. If they don’t, encourage them to do so with the help of this manual. We’d be happy to contact Park Districts interested in beginning a program to improve the health and well being of its residents by reducing pesticide use.

Download a free copy by clicking link at right.



SPCP Executive Director, Rachel Rosenberg, spoke at length to local writer, Jason Phillips about our work.
Both articles address the problems with chemical lawn care, and with pesticides in general. Please pass it on to your friends.

Getting Americas Lawns Off Drugs

Tackling the Toxic Problem of Pesticides

Ironically, notice the Google ads on the page for chemical lawn care. If the advertisers featured could only read what the article said, I don’t think they’d want to be linked on this page!


Follow the link to this wonderful article by New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert

I love this article because it takes all of the different aspects of lawn care in America and distills it into a cogent argument for reducing our dependence on chemicals for our lawns. It is also a fascinating history of lawns in American.