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Lawns and Landscapes

A growing body of evidence in scientific literature shows that pesticide exposure can adversely affect neurological, respiratory, immune, and endocrine systems in humans, even at low levels. Children are especially sensitive to pesticide exposure because they (1) take up more pesticides (relative to their body weight) than do adults, and (2) have developing organ systems that are more vulnerable to pesticide impacts and less able to detoxify harmful chemicals. Fortunately, there are proven safe, effective, and affordable ways to maintain attractive lawns and playing fields without the use of toxic pesticides. Use the resources below, information on Hazards and Alternatives, and our Tools for Change page to help get the pesticides out of your community — whether it's at the municipal, park, school, or backyard level.

In Your Backyard

  • Display a honey bee or ladybug yard sign. Show your neighbors that pesticide-free lawns are important for the health of your family, the environment, and the community. These painted metal signs (8" diameter) will not rust and will retain their bright colors for years. The sign comes with valuable information on organic lawn and garden management, pollinators, and how to talk to your neighbors about pesticides. You can get a head start by reading the Pesticide-Free Zone Sign Owner's Manual. Signs are available for $13 each ($10 plus shipping for 10 or more) at our online store.
  • Go Organic! Create your own pesticide-free space in your backyard. See, in addition to the Owner's Manual linked above, Beyond Pesticides' factsheets for information on how to manage a weed-free yard and lawn: Read Your "Weeds": A Simple Guide to Creating a Healthy Lawn. Fall is the best time to intervene and make your yard free of toxic chemicals. Read our fall lawncare fact sheet, Organic Lawn Care 101, for specific information on how to prime your yard for next year!
  • Put it on the map. Once you've eliminated synthetic pesticides and fertilizers from your landscape, pledge your organically managed yard or park as a pollinator-friendly Pesticide-Free Zone and mark it on the honey bee map!

In Your Community

  • Educate. It's critically important to make people aware of both the hazards associated with cosmetic lawn care pesticides, and the availability of alternatives practices and products. Of the 30 most commonly used lawn pesticides, 17 are possible and/or known carcinogens, 18 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system, 19 are linked to reproductive effects and sexual dysfunction, 11 have been linked to birth defects, 14 are neurotoxic, 24 can cause kidney or liver damage, and 25 are sensitizers and/or irritants. Of those same 30 lawn pesticides, 19 are detected in groundwater, 20 have the ability to leach into drinking water sources, 30 are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms vital to our ecosystem, 29 are toxic to bees, 14 are toxic to mammals, and 22 are toxic to birds.

    Our Safe Lawn Doorknob Hanger is a tool to help spread the word about the dangers of lawn pesticides and the ever-increasing availability of alternatives. It's an easy, non-confrontational way to engage neighbors that may be using pesticides. You can request a free pack of 25 doorknob hangers by sending an email with your name and address to [email protected]. You can order larger quantities from our online store.

  • Enact a Policy. Many communities across the country have taken a stand against the use of toxic pesticides on their lawns and landscapes. In 2013, Takoma Park, Maryland became the first city to ban pesticides on both private and public property. In June 2014, Ogunquit, Maine decided to be the second. Beyond Pesticides worked with community members in Takoma Park to help pass the Safe Grow Act, and created educational materials to support the city's implementation of the ordinance. You can see Beyond Pesticides' Model Ordinance and Implementation Plan here. For a list of additional cities and communities that have enacted pesticide-free policies or have pesticide-free spaces, see Beyond Pesticides' Tools for Change page. As these localities show, there is growing community demand for local pesticide regulations that prevent the pollution of local waters and stop putting residents at risk of pesticide-induced diseases.

  • Take a course. Organic Land Care Basic Training for Municipal Officials and Transitioning Landscapers is taught by Beyond Pesticides’ board member Chip Osborne, a professional horticulturist with 30+ years’ experience, and an expert on building and transitioning turf to organic care. 

We want to work with your community! For assistance in proposing a policy in your community, contact Beyond Pesticides at [email protected] or 1.202.543.5450.

This information is also available in Beyond Pesticides' brochure, Pesticide Free Zones in Your Community.

Organic Land Management: Practical Tools and Techniques

2014 National Pesticide Forum

With a "how-to" focus, this workshop provides people with practical advice on adopting organic
practices at home, and for local park and playing field management. This presentation was given
at "Advancing Sustainable Communities: People, Pollinators and Practices," Beyond Pesticides'
32nd National Pesticide Forum, April 11–12, 2014 in Portland, Oregon.

Healthy Lawns, Clean Water Forum

Below, you can find clips from the Healthy Lawns, Clean Water Forum, which took place in Exeter, New Hampshire on May 4, 2016. The forum addressed questions such as: Are fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, and neonicotinoids good for you, your food, or clean water? Featured speakers included Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, Chip Osborne, a nationally renowned organic turfgrass expert, and John Bochert of Eldredge Lumber and Hardware in Maine.

Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides

 


Chip Osborne, Osborne Organics

 


John Bochert, Eldredge Lumber and Hardware

You can view the full Healthy Lawns, Clean Water Forum video here.