Parks Officials: New Canaan’s Pesticide-Free Playing Fields Are Safe


Though some of New Canaan’s playing fields—specifically, those located on school grounds—may see more bare patches, ruts and uneven surfaces as a result of a pesticide ban, the fields themselves are safe, parks officials say.

John Howe, parks superintendent with the New Canaan Department of Public Works, said it’s true that not using pesticides allows crabgrass and clover to grow, and leaves grubs to eat roots, meaning “the fields could be less safe.”

Yet “I do not feel we have any fields that are unsafe, whether they have pesticides or not,” Howe said during the regular Board of Selectmen meeting Tuesday morning, held in the Training Room at the New Canaan Police Department.

Some of the New Canaan High School playing fields on Aug. 19, 2014. Credit: Michael Dinan

Some of the New Canaan High School playing fields on Aug. 19, 2014. Credit: Michael Dinan

The comments came as the board approved a total of about $47,000 for the purchase and application of grass treatment products for New Canaan’s athletic fields.

State law prohibits the use of pesticides on school grounds from pre-K through eighth grade. New Canaan about five years ago, led by a subcommittee on the Town Council, extended the pesticide ban to include the high school. In New Canaan, not all youth or high school sports are played on Board of Education properties specifically—athletes also compete on fields at Mead, Conner and Waveny, for example.

Advocates for an entirely pesticide-free New Canaan would like to see a ban on pesticides on all town properties, including parks and around municipal buildings.

During the meeting, Selectman Nick Williams, saying he had fielded concerns from some parents and wanted to get as much information for them as possible, put questions to Howe on just how New Canaan uses pesticides on athletic fields not located on school grounds.

Howe said the town at fields such as Conner applies pesticides twice: once for post-emerging crabgrass and weed control, and then insecticide for grubs.

One thought on “Parks Officials: New Canaan’s Pesticide-Free Playing Fields Are Safe

  1. The way to grow healthy turf without the use of pesticide is 1) manage the water , air , carbon , nutrients to be in balance ! 2) eliminate the use of ALL pesticides to allow the soil food web to improve the fertility in the soil 3) plant the appropriated grass seeds variety to the site 3) use 5% MICROCLOVER. to help with the nitrogen fixing reducing extra fertilizers ! To much nitroge will contribute to insect & diseases pressure !!! I suggest to practice TRUE ECOLOGICAL LAND PRACTICES , only with hard work and passion we can successfully manage the ecology to benefit people & environment health.

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