Herbicides and pesticides

Milton Keynes City Council will continue to minimise usage of pesticides across the borough to ensure that use of glyphosate-based pesticides is as low as reasonably practicable. It has already stopped all spraying of pesticides through the summer via Landscaping services and will look are aiming to stop use of around trees and tall street signs. 

Methods of weed control

Our Landscape Services use a range of methods for weed control including use of chipped pruning waste as a mulch around some planting.  This suppresses weeds and reduces the effects of drought.  Herbicides (weed killers) are used at a minimum level where there is no other cost-effective alternative. 

Any operative using herbicide is certificated. All staff working on behalf of the Council have the correct certificates for working in public open spaces. 

Weeds are controlled to prevent damage to the wider infrastructure; pavements, walls, roads, parks.  To limit damage to other planting, when herbicides are used, they are aimed at specific plants.  

Our contractor uses chipped pruning waste as a mulch around planting to suppress weeds and reduce the effects of drought during hot summers.  Some bedding has been and is removed to reduce the need for weeding.

Milton Keynes will continue to provide a dedicated weed crew who are driving weed prevention by removing mud, detritus and build in dirt where weeds can grow and reside in hard standing area 

Weed control on council roads and footpaths 

Once a year herbicide is sprayed on roads and footpaths across Milton Keynes. The spraying schedule is carried out between May and September. Around two weeks after the growing weeds have been sprayed, they are removed as part of the street cleansing schedule. Timing this work is difficult because rainfall can wash away the chemicals and weeds grow at different times in the year

The term "pesticide" includes pesticides and herbicides, known as weedkillers. 

The herbicides we use, which are available over the counter at garden centres and DIY stores, only affect the plants they are applied to and are designed to break up into their constituent parts on contact with the soil, significantly reducing the risk of any serious pollution incident occurring. 

MK Council specifies in all contracts that contracted staff using pesticides in open spaces comply with all legislation governing the use of all pesticides in the public domain. Our contractor uses "contact" and "translocated" herbicides approved by the Chemical Regulation Directorate. 

We will no longer routinely spray in hedge lines or on living and non-living obstacles on open space. In addition to this there will be no spraying around trees (trees are living obstacles already listed) 

Areas responsible for their own maintenance are listed on the Devolved Parishes page.

Report weeds in play areas, parks and open spaces 

Weed control on private land 

The Weeds Act 1959 requires that five specified weeds are controlled. 

  • common ragwort – senecio jacobaea 
  • broad-leaved dock – rumex obtusifolius 
  • curled dock – rumex crispus 
  • creeping thistle – cirsium arvense 
  • spear thistle 

Identifying injurious weeds can be difficult and the council aims to limit the growth and spread of Common Ragwort in particular on its highways, parks and open spaces in accordance with The Weeds Act 1959. 

Japanese Knotweed is a particularly invasive plant which can cause damage to property as well as rapidly spreading in the environment - it is important that landowners try to prevent the spread of harmful and invasive weeds