Parks Pest Management

Girl blowing dandelion fluff copyThe City of Edmonds Parks Department is committed to reducing pesticide use in its parks and has achieved a 60% reduction since 2008 by using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to park maintenance. With a few exceptions, we currently use only natural, organic pesticide products. 

Using an IPM approach protects a systems’ natural balance, and keeps unnecessary chemicals out of the environment. This approach has enabled many areas within the Edmonds parks system to be managed and maintained as pesticide free.

What is Integrated Pest Management?

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a multifaceted and adaptive approach to controlling pests such as insects, rodents, weeds, and plant diseases. IPM employs physical, mechanical, biological, and evaluative processes for pest control to minimize damage to the landscape and the surrounding environment; chemical treatments are used as a last resort, and the least toxic chemicals are preferred.

An IPM approach strives to achieve long-term, sustainable prevention of pest problems through regular monitoring to determine if and when treatment is needed. Public safety and short- and long-term cost effectiveness are also considered when deciding among prevention and treatment options.

In IPM, pest control decisions are based on agreed upon Threshold and Action levels.
Threshold level: The point at which a pest population will cause unacceptable impact to public safety, natural or managed ecosystems (including aesthetic value and economic damage), or to the function or service life of facilities.
Action level: The point at which action must be taken to prevent a pest population at a specific location from reaching the Threshold level.

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Keys to Successful IPM

Successful IPM both improves the look and health of our parks and reduces pesticide use. The primary keys to success using an IPM approach are:

  • Proper care to keep plants healthy and disease-resistant

  • Routine plant monitoring for early pest detection

  • Correct pest identification and diagnosis

  • Understanding pest life cycle and behaviors in order to target appropriate treatment

  • MORE
Going Pesticide Free One Park at a Time

Anderson Center copyThe Edmonds parks system has many areas that are managed and maintained as pesticide free. On rare occasions, park employees may treat an aggressive wasp nest or a particular noxious weed in these sensitive areas when it poses a serious safety hazard to the public or weed control is mandated by law.


Pesticide-free areas include:

  • All natural and wild areas

  • Buffer zones adjacent to any creek, wetland, shoreline, or riparian zone

  • Rain gardens

  • Woodland trails

  • Downtown corner parks

  • Off-leash dog areas

  • Turf*

* Weeds in baseball infields are spot treated with herbicide to reduce trip and fall hazards


Sustaining Our Parks

City Park ivy removalWhere possible, Park staff have been transitioning their landcare approach to one that mimics nature with the goal of achieving long term sustainability in our landscapes.  One of the primary tools that Parks uses for weed control is mulch, nearly all of which comes from local trees that are cut during tree pruning projects, trees that have blown over during storms, or fall leaves. This allows valuable organic material to be recycled back into the ecosystem and landscaped areas, eliminating the need to purchase or dispose of it. 

For the past 15 years, Park staff have been working to restore native habitat that has become overrun by invasive species such as English ivy, Himalayan blackberry, English and Scotch Broom. More than three acres have been transformed into self-sustaining native habitats that will function more effectively for people and wildlife. Parks staff is committed to continuing these restoration efforts and collaborating with other groups working to restore habitat in our community including Earth Corps, the Student Conservation Association, and other business and community groups that come out to help us accomplish this important work.    


If you'd like to join your community to help restore Edmonds' parks, please contact Jennifer Leach at 425-771-0227.            

Pesticide Reduction at Home

Baby in the Grass copyNatural yard care means putting nature to work using an ecosystem approach to landscape maintenance, which can save time, money, and protect the health of our family, pets, and the environment.

In nature, every part of the system works in balance - nothing is wasted. Plants are adapted to the environment where they occur; fallen leaves and other dead plant parts fall to the ground and decompose into nutrients that nourish the next generation of plants. The intricate web of plants, soil organisms, insects, and animals that occur in nature work together to keep pests and diseases in check.

By working with nature in your yard, you can have a great looking landscape that’s easier to care for and healthier for families, pets, wildlife, and our great Northwest environment.


Learn How!

Visit the Snohomish County Natural Yard Care website.

Check out more ways to garden with nature using Low Impact Development.

Reducing Pesticides in Edmonds City Parks

yost park down into the forest The Edmonds Parks Department (Parks) manages a wide variety of landscapes, from highly managed garden beds to natural forested areas - and everything in between. Using an IPM approach, Park staff are able to balance the need to keep these areas attractive and safe with the staff and resources they have available.

Park staff have been using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to reduce pesticide use for the past 30 years. Since 2008, the Parks department has reduced the amount of Glyphosate (e.g. Roundup®) – our most commonly used herbicide - by more than 60%, and applications of other herbicides have been greatly reduced or completely eliminated in some cases. Now, many areas in the Edmonds Parks system are managed and maintained as pesticide free.

With a few exceptions, Parks has transitioned to using Avenger®, a citrus-based, nontoxic herbicide that is completely safe for people, pets, and wildlife. Avenger dissipates and turns into C02 within 2-3 hours after application, and is registered as safe for organic gardening. 

IPM Practices in Edmonds Parks

Park staff are responsible for implementing IPM actions. Our IPM approach pays particular attention to landscape/turf planning and maintenance, vigilant monitoring and identification of pests, an understanding of pest life cycles, and proper plant maintenance. It is a proactive approach which strives to avoid pest problems.

Park employees monitor conditions on a weekly maintenance schedule.  When pest problems increase beyond a tolerable level, they employ several management strategies to reduce specific problems that reduce or eliminate the need for broad-spectrum pesticides, including mechanical, cultural, and biological control methods.


Most common methods of pest control in Edmonds City Parks

  • Plant appropriate vegetation including disease-resistant plant varieties

  • Maintain healthy groundcovers, shrubs, and trees through proper maintenance

  • Prune shrubs and trees to increase air circulation and remove diseased or dead branches

  • Maintain proper turf heights and use grass cycling (leave clippings on turf) to shade out weeds

  • Bark mulch shrub areas and tree wells to retain moisture, reduce weeds, and protect vegetation

  • Physically remove pests using hand labor, implements, and power equipment

  • Use biological controls (e.g. ladybugs and praying mantis for aphid control)

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Except in cases of imminent threat to public safety, Parks has nearly eliminated the use of synthetic (i.e. toxic) insecticides, opting instead for biological or mechanical control methods as a first line of defense. For example, Park staff controls small outbreaks of aphids by manually removing affected plant parts to keep the pests from spreading. With few exceptions (e.g. wasp nest, large insect outbreaks) only organic insecticides such as soaps and natural oils are used, and only as a last resort.

Although utmost care is taken to avoid weed problems or control weeds using mechanical methods, herbicides are used on some occasions when mechanical control is not practicable. This may occur when large areas of weeds have become deeply established, when weeds pose a safety hazard (e.g. trip hazard on baseball infields), or other situations when biological or mechanical weed control is not practicable. In some cases, an herbicide may be used to treat the problem initially, with subsequent treatments using only mechanical or biological techniques.


When pesticides are used, they are applied using strict protocols and best practices to protect people, pets, and the environment including:

  • Target the right time in the pests’ life cycle to ensure minimal chemical use.
  • Applying chemical only to target pest (i.e. spot application).
  • Apply chemical during periods of dry weather to prevent runoff and need to reapply.
  • Notification flags placed following application to alert the public that a treatment has occurred.
Downtown container copy


Pesticides are applied by Park staff that have been trained, licensed, and certified through the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA). Training includes requirements for safe practices, knowledge of and adherence to labeling instructions, compliance with state laws, and record keeping. Licenses are renewed annually with a total of 40 educational credits to be acquired within a five year period for recertification. These requirements ensure that staff are qualified to assess, recommend, and implement IPM actions in a safe and effective manner.