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Alternatives to Pesticides and Herbicides for Weed Control

Case Study:

Alternatives to Pesticides and Herbicides for Weed Control


An urban park needed to be managed in a way that respected its historic features, its use by the public as a key amenity in Dublin City and its location next to a river. The management of the park also needed to meet requirements of DCC’s Biodiversity Action Plan 2015 -2020 and An Taisce Green Flag designation. It also needed to reflect the ethos of the Dublin Bay Biosphere ECOUNESCO designation.  Herbicides including Glyphosate were being phased out for the treatment of weeds. 

The Solution  

  • Organic alternatives glyphosate were used including mulches made from landscape waste from the maintenance of the park;
  • Dense planting consisting of mixed annuals and perennials has been incorporated into flower beds to cover bare areas preventing weeds and to support pollinators and other wildlife
  • Cardboard with an over cover of landscape waste mulches have been used to clear beds or where hedges were removed  before planting (previously the bed would have been sprayed with herbicide after hedge removal);
  • Grass cycling (increased mowing and leaving grass clippings in place) was used to suppress weeds in amenity pitches;
  • Areas under trees were allowed to re naturalise providing a habitat for insects which in turn benefited wildlife further up the food chain like birds, bats etc.;
  • Staff used a salt and vinegar solution followed  by mechanical sweeping for paved areas;
  • Leaf mould was used to condition grassland;
  • Planting for biodiversity signage from All –Ireland Pollinator Plan was placed in areas where wild flowers (perceived as weeds) are allowed to grow as part of the park’s public awareness programme for Biodiversity.

The Benefits  

  • Mulch in formal beds reduces the use of labour required for weeding and the need to use glyphosate. The historic look of the park achieved by formal planting is maintained.   
  • The reduction of glyphosate reduces the release of chemicals into  the environment including the potential  pollution of  water bodies  including the River Dodder which has a population of   protected species Otter, Daubentons Bat,  Salmon.
  • Leaving areas to be naturalised which would previously have been treated with herbicides results in  increased species like  clover,  daisy,  dandelions , nettles which  in turn support pollinators and other invertebrates. Leaving grasses grow to height provides a habitat for insects which are a food source for species further up the food chain like birds and bats. 
  • Signage provides public education on gardening for biodiversity and wildflowers and flowers for pollinators.
  • Fulfilment of Dublin City Council’s commitment to All- Ireland Pollinator Plan.    


Local authority project contact

Michael Noonan Senior Executive Parks Superintendent, Parks and Landscape Services Division Dublin City Council
Lorraine Bull Biodiversity Officer, Parks and Landscape Services Division

Project Details:


Activities can be carried out all year around.

Further information

Dublin City Biodiversity Action Plan 2015 -2020
Conservation Management Plan For Herbert Park
An Taisce Green Flag Awards Scheme
All- Ireland Pollinator Plan / Guidance for Local Authorities