Park Care and Maintenance

Pond Aerators Parks Trimmed by Contractors
Annual Tree Pruning Mosquito Spraying
Fertilization and Herbicide Application of Turfgrass Shoreline Stabilization Project
Lake Water Quality Snow Plow Priorities/Walking Paths
Landscape Maintenance and Improvements Trash Collection
Mowing and Trimming of Park Grass Turf Aeration

Pond Aerators

Algae, if left unchecked can kill nearly all life in a pond or lake, make it difficult to use the lake for expected recreational purposes, and can also be smelly and unsightly. For many years, the Park District battled the algae that grows year round in the Park District’s retention ponds by contracting a private company to apply chemicals to ponds and lakes affected by algae growth. The chemical application, though relatively expensive, has been somewhat effective in most cases. In 2003, the Park Board approved an eco-friendly plan to install above water (fountains) and/or below water (bubblers), depending on the square footage and depth of the lake/pond aerators, in each of the District’s retention ponds over a period of years.

The first aerator was installed in Willow Lake in Deerpath Park in late fall 2003 and activated in spring of 2004. A second aerator in the west detention pond at Grosse Pointe Park was installed and activated in the summer of 2004. Three aerators were added to Little Bear Lake in 2007. Over the next few years, aerators are scheduled to be added to other Park District lakes, based on need.

In 2018, a set of underwater bubbler aerators were installed at Grosse Pointe to compliment the fountain. The underwater bubbler aerators will remain operable year around to increase the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water.

In 2019, the underwater bubbler aerators at Deerpath were replaced. One set is on the south end of the pond, complimenting the fountains. The other set is on the north end of the pond. Both sets of underwater bubbler aerators will remain operable year around to increase the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water.

The Benefits

After a reasonable test period, it appears the District was successful in meeting the primary goal of eliminating algae growth. The addition of the underwater bubbler aerators will increase dissolved oxygen into water. This will increase the chances for aquatic life to thrive.

Operating Hours

Fountains operate during daylight into early evening hours April through November. Underwater bubbler aerators will operate 24 hours and day, 365 days a year.

Annual Tree Pruning

Tree and shrub pruning is a year round activity of the Vernon Hills Park District. The heaviest of pruning is done in December, January, February and first half of March when the leaves are off the trees and shrubs.

Tree trimming general objectives are:

  • To keep the lowest branches on the tree above seven feet above the ground in the open areas in the parks and eleven feet above the ground over paths and driveways.
  • To remove crossed, damaged, dead and diseased branches.
  • To remove suckers and eliminate witch hazel growth.
  • To shape the trees to reduce conflicts with other trees, buildings, and other objects. In most cases the tree will be allowed to develop to its natural shape and size.

Trees that present a hazard, extend over property lines, conflict with other trees, show declining health or conflict with other park usage may be subject to removal.

The District Pruning Schedule is based on a six-year rotation but may be extended, depending on other activities or on weather conditions.

Fertilization and Herbicide Application of Turfgrass

Our grass is no different than yours. Its appearance (color and weed content) is impacted proportionately by the amount of money that is spent on fertilizers and herbicides to get and keep it green and weed free. With nearly 400 acres of grass to maintain, the District tries to keep its grass green and relatively weed free within reasonable cost limits.

Starting with the fall 2004 herbicide applications, the Park District stepped up its weed control program to two applications a year. Thanks to this effort, we expect to see fewer dandelions and weeds in the future. To ensure your safety, the Park District has its own Illinois Department of Agriculture Herbicide Operators Licenses to spray some of its parks and also contracts some of the spraying out to a state-certified private company. Watch for the little flags placed in the ground that advise you whenever a park has been sprayed. If you or a member of your family are concerned about health issues related to the District’s spraying program, would like to be notified of an upcoming spraying, or would like more information about the District’s herbicide spraying program, contact Mark Fleishman, Superintendent of Parks, at 847-996-6817.

Lake Water Quality

The Park District’s two biggest lakes, Big Bear and Little Bear at Century Park, are reviewed for water quality by the Lakes Management Unit of the Lake County Health Department. The last report was dated 2008. In summary, both of these mid-70’s man-made lakes suffer from water clarity problems caused mostly by sediment and some algae blooms. Because aquatic plant life is sparse, providing little habitat for shelter, food and nursery areas, the potential for high fish counts is very limited. The main cause of the high amounts of sediment in the water is soil erosion caused by steep slopes (see Shoreline Stabilization Project), fluctuating water levels (the Seavey Ditch is the water source for the lakes, as well as surface water runoff), regularly cut lawn, and geese that eat the shoreline grasses down to its roots.

Starting in 2016, the District started to actively participate in local and regional lake/pond management groups. The District implemented a Lake Water Quality pilot program that focused on non-point pollution controls, controlling invasive weed growth, fish habitat, and erosion control measures.

In 2018, Lake County Health Department started to conduct an updated report of our Big Bear and Little Bear Lakes. In addition, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency also conducted a survey for these lakes.

Please contact Mark Fleishman, Superintendent of Parks, at 847-996-6817 for more information.

Mowing and Trimming of Park Turf

The Vernon Hills Park District maintains nearly 400 acres of grass! Weekly cutting and trimming is scheduled for all of the District’s parks from April to mid-October, depending on the weather and when the grass stops growing for the season. Some parks with athletic fields may be cut more often, especially during the spring ball playing season.

Due to the size and scope of the projects, some or all of the cutting, trimming and mowing has been contracted out. Questions and/or concerns about the District’s mowing schedule should be addressed to Mark Fleishman, Superintendent of Parks, at 847-996-6817.

Mosquito Spraying

The Vernon Hills Park District does not spray its parks for mosquitoes, but Deerpath is sprayed for Movies in the Park & the TCW is sprayed for the Family Camp Out. However, the Village of Vernon Hills has a mosquito control program which encompasses all of Vernon Hills. More information can be obtained by contacting the Village Public Works department.

Shoreline Stabilization

In 1997, the Park District began the long term project of restoring, and thereby stabilizing, the eroded shorelines of Big and Little Bear Lakes at Century Park. Due to the widespread deterioration (more than 13,000 linear feet of shoreline) and the District’s limited funds, the work is being accomplished over a period of years. In 1998, an additional 1000 linear feet was restored before the project was temporarily tabled due to other District priorities. In fall 2004, the project was revitalized at the south end of Little Bear Lake where the erosion is the worst. An additional 1000 linear feet was restored in spring 2005, 800 lineal feet was completed in spring 2006. The Park District is now in the process of removing invasive species along the shoreline and replacing with native plantings to prevent further erosion of the shoreline in a natural setting.

In 2016, working with the Village of Vernon Hills, shoreline stabilization occurred on the north end of Evergreen Pond. The project was to repair the storm water inlet coming in from the Deerpath Subdivision. The District allocated funds to perform necessary shoreline stabilization for storm water repairs. Plans are to continue with either hardscape or naturalization for the rest of the shoreline.

Trash Collection

Keeping the District’s parks clean and free of debris is no easy task. The District’s park maintenance staff works hard to keep up with the trash pickup. It requires everyone’s help in order to get the job done. There are more than 200 trash containers located in the District’s parks. Daily pickups are scheduled during the heavy use season, or more often if needed. If you should notice a trash container that needs attention, please contact Mark Fleishman, Superintendent of Parks, at 847-996-6817.

Turf Aeration

Turf aeration helps reduce soil compaction, allows for gas exchange in the root zone, and allows fertilizer and water to penetrate deeper into the root zone, all of which encourages a healthy stand of grass. When used prior to over seeding, the seeds make better soil contact for a greater percent of germination. Ground aeration can be performed anytime of year the ground is not frozen or too dry.

The District owns and operates a tractor-mounted pull behind Ryan Renovator with a double set of three-quarter inch open tines. This unit will remove a core of soil up to four inches deep depending on soil conditions on a 3-inch by 3-inch spacing across its six-foot operating width at ten miles per hour. The cores are left on the surface to be broken down by weather, normally within a few days to a week.

The objective of the Park District is to aerate all parks at least once a year and athletic fields twice a year. Other required or emergency maintenance activities or weather conditions may affect aeration activities and times.

Spring aeration season – April and May – primary athletic fields
Fall aeration season – August, September, and October – athletic fields and parks


As part of its environmental commitment, the Park District participates in two types of recycling efforts:

Mandatory: Park District tires, batteries, used oil, fluorescent lamps and computer monitors.

Voluntary: Aluminum cans, plastic bottles and paper at the Sullivan Community Centers, Lakeview Fitness, Turtle Creek Waterpark, and at selected parks. The Park District also recycles computer hardware and wood chips.

Snow Removal Protocols

Daytime snow events that occur Monday through Friday are plowed and cleared as the day progresses and staff members will remain removing snow until the event ends or the buildings close – whichever comes first. The number of staff to remain will be dependent upon the rate of snowfall and longevity of the event. After normal working hours only Lakeview Fitness, Sullivan Community Center, Hartmann / SRACLC (Special Recreation Association of Central Lake County), and Century Park lots and building paths will be maintained.

Overnight snow events that occur Sunday night through Thursday night are handled and cleared in a scheduled and assigned fashion. The evening before a snow event is to occur; the Parks Foreman will gather an average from multiple forecasting weather apps and send out a detailed snow removal plan to the staff for the following morning. Typical removal plan entails staggered starts for staff members to come in and start removal. Those staff members who are on call, along with 1-2 more staff members, will be assigned to come in as early as 3 AM to begin snow removal at Lakeview Fitness and Sullivan Community Center to make it safe as possible for the buildings to open. Depending on rate of snow fall, more staff will come in at 5 AM, and the rest will start between 6-7 AM. Each staff member is assigned particular parking lots, walking paths, sidewalks and buildings to clear and maintain.

Weekend snow events are focused on maintaining the priority building sites – lots, walks and entrances. These sites are Lakeview Fitness, Sullivan Community Center, Hartmann / SRACLC (Special Recreation Association of Central Lake County), and Century Park (sled hill & ice rinks). Park walking paths and parking lots are not cleared on weekends.

Ground Conditions Depending on the amount that the ground is frozen, if it’s even frozen at all, dictates what type of clearing we will do. If the ground is thawed and saturated, as it typically is with early and late winter season snowfalls, building lots are still cleared edge to edge but other lots without curbs are cleared close to but not beyond the edges and pathways might be left uncleared until the ground freezes. This is an effort to reduce damage to turf. Following frost driving into the ground – lots and paths will be cleared beyond the solid paved and asphalted surfaces.

Temporarily Closed Parking Lots Depending upon severity of certain snow events, some parking lots in the parks will be temporarily closed as to allow park staff to concentrate on maintaining snow removal at park district buildings. Until swinging gates can be installed at the entrances of parking lots, barricades will be used to block the entrances of parking lots that are being temporarily closed. When a snow event of this magnitude subsides, these temporarily closed parking lots will be cleared and reopened.

Ice Melt Products Ice melting products like rock salt and bagged granular ice melt products are only applied to certain parking lots and walkways. Lakeview Fitness parking lot, walkways and entrance; Sullivan Community Center parking lot, walkways and entrance; Hartmann Park lots; SRACLC building walkways; and Century Park Pavilion parking lot and walkways around the immediate building, are the only locations that the Parks Departments spreads ice melting products. No other locations are treated. The Parks Department tries to apply only what is needed or will be effective during snow and ice events in an effort to reduce our impact on the Illinois streams, lakes, ponds and waterways.