On January 3, 2018, the City of Portland passed an ordinance to restrict the use of synthetic pesticides for all turf, landscape, and outdoor pest management activities in the City on both public and private property. It takes effect for City property on July 1, 2018 and for private property on January 1, 2019. You can download the ordinance here: City of Portland Pesticide Ordinance
If you use a lawn care company you should remind them of this ordinance and ask them about organic methods for managing your property.
Why did the City Council pass this ordinance?
City Councilors, city staff, and residents have long been concerned about the environmental consequences of pesticide use because pesticides applied to lawns and other landscape don't always stay there. Rain and snow melt carry them into City catch basins which drain into Casco Bay. The Friends of Casco Bay test the waste quality in the bay regularly and always find synthetic pesticides present in their samples. Fish and other aquatic life are threatened by these chemicals. Applications on land, especially those done inappropriately, can impact neighboring properties and harm pets, wildlife, and children. After extensive review of pesticide use by a task force led by Councilor Mavodones and further work by the Sustainability and Transportation Committee chaired by Councilor Thibodeau, the City Council adopted an ordinance that minimizes these threats by mandating land care practices that don't rely on synthetic pesticides. This short video will explain the concerns: Think Blue Maine (Devil Ducks)
OK, then -- how do I take care of my lawn?
Maintaining healthy lawns and landscapes does not require synthetic pesticides if you follow some simple best practices. These include mowing high (we recommend mowing at the highest setting your mower will allow), topdressing with compost, over-seeding, and watering deeply but infrequently. Here are some useful resources. Stay tuned for additional information and learning opportunities this spring!
The ordinance calls for the City Council to establish a Pesticide Management Advisory Committee that will assist in the development of a comprehensive campaign to help residents understand the ordinance and provide information about land care practices that don't rely on pesticides. The City Clerk will announce the vacancies for this board later this year and will be accepting applications from interested people at that time.
We will update this page as more information becomes available.