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Organic Lawn Care Becomes Law in Many Maine Cities and Towns

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organic lawn care laws in maineAs a homeowner, you’re working hard to be environmentally conscious when it comes to your lawn care. More and more communities across Maine are doing the same as they adopt lawn care ordinances that ban pesticides, fungicides, and insecticides in favor of more natural options.  Understanding the ins and outs of these organic lawn care ordinances can be confusing as each municipality has its own unique set of rules and exceptions. Chances are, if your town hasn’t implemented a lawn care ordinance yet, it will soon. Now is the time to get ahead of it.

As lawn care experts, we often see over use of fertilizers and pesticides by homeowners and even other professionals in the lawn care industry.  As stewards of lawns, plants, and trees, we support responsible legislation that ensures homeowners can achieve their desired outcome while protecting our shared environment.  To show our support, lawn care experts from Lucas attend each municipal planning meeting in our customer areas to share our knowledge. If your town has new legislation, or some pending, we’re here to help you navigate the ordinances and make sure you remain compliant in your quest for a healthy and lush lawn.

Cities and towns currently impacted

Early adopters of the lawn care movement include Ogunquit, Harpswell, and the Kennebunks – each with their own unique approach to banning pesticides, fungicides and insecticides. In 2018, South Portland joined the roster, and right now, homeowners in Portland are preparing for rollout in 2019.  Chances are Falmouth will be joining the movement by 2020. If you’re curious about which Maine municipalities have pesticides ordinance in place, or are in process, this state website has a fairly up-to-date list.

The Impact on Homeowners

If you’re like most homeowners, you’re looking to be more environmentally responsible with your lawn care choices, but you also want to make sure your lawn stays healthy and free of dangerous pests. Homeowners may also notice the difference in their wallet as an organic approach can be more expensive initially.  Dealing with grub outbreaks or crazy weeds is where most homeowners will notice the impact of these organic-leaning lawn care ordinances.

Learning to live with weeds, especially dandelions and violets, may be an adjustment for homeowners. In pesticide-free towns, it is critical to develop a thick, healthy lawn that gives the weed nowhere to grow and chokes them out naturally. Alternative approaches, such as annual aeration and overseeding, can thicken your lawn and prevent weeds without the use of pesticide. Additionally, homeowners may need to return to old-fashioned practices of pulling out the weed by hand – root and all, to reach weed-free status.

Grubs, in particular, can be especially tough to eradicate with pesticide-free ordinances in place. These larvae do considerable damage to Maine lawns in the summer, and to the dismay of homeowners, there are limited organic options. You can be eco-friendly with your preventative grub treatment by using certified bee-friendly treatments. And, if you are looking for a 100% organic option, nematodes are a curative option for, once an outbreak has occurred. Curative nematode treatments are not as effective as bee-safe preventatives and may require several treatments to get the situation under control. The trusted lawn care professionals at Lucas now use only certified bee-safe grub preventatives, or nematodes for organic curative treatments.

Changing Expectations of the Perfect Lawn

organic lawn care laws in maine communitiesAn evolution in how homeowners think about caring for their lawn is happening. Focusing on creating healthy soil, full of nutrients and microorganisms, will produce a thriving yard that can often ward off pests and weeds on its own. 

This push towards more organic, natural lawn-care practices is a positive thing, however, homeowners should be prepared for what’s ahead. For decades, the “perfect” lawn has been portrayed as lush and green, free of weeds or any blemishes. With organic lawn care, this expectation needs a facelift.  As we all work to adopt more eco-friendly lawn care practices, we inherently are also adopting a new definition of what makes a lawn perfect. A lush, green turf does not always mean healthy; and conversely, a dandelion in the yard, or some moss along the fence doesn’t mean your yard isn’t thriving.

Homeowners adopting a more environmentally friendly approach to lawn care may notice that their grass is not quite as green or lush during those first few seasons. If you’ve treated with synthetic fertilizers in the past, this is part of the recovery process. This may be even more true if a homeowner has worked with a lawn care company that treated on a monthly basis.  This frequent fertilizer helped the grass turn green while secretly robbing the soil of any value it had. The more fertilizer that was used, the more dependent upon those chemicals the grass had become. These first few seasons transitioning to organic care will help your grass detox while the soil replenishes the stripped nutrients and microorganisms that synthetic fertilization caused. Once your soil has returned to optimal health, it will be capable of sustaining life, a.k.a. your lawn.

Implementing an Eco-Friendly Lawn Care Routine

At Lucas, we are stewards of lawn, tree and plant health that provide environmentally responsible lawn care options for the eco-friendly homeowner. Whether you’re just looking to be “bee-safe,” minimize pesticide use, or avoid over-fertilization, Lucas is here to help. Our trusted lawn care professionals will ensure compliance should your town adopt a lawn-care ordinance now or in the future. Your lawn will only receive what it needs, sparing unnecessary applications and costs. Select from our three Evergreen Lawn Care options that fit your vision for a healthy, eco-friendly lawn.