Pesticide Use Ordinance
In order to protect the health of our waterways, residents, pets, and natural ecosystems, the City of Portland has enacted a Pesticide Use Ordinance that restricts the use of synthetic pesticides on all public and private property except in limited circumstances. The ordinance establishes organic land care methods as the primary means to care for and maintain property in Portland, including lawns, gardens, athletic fields, parks, and playgrounds.
- Ordinance passed January 3, 2018
- Took effect on City property July 1, 2018
- Takes effect on private property January 1, 2019
After these dates, property owners in Portland may not use synthetic pesticides on turf, gardens, and landscapes. You can download the ordinance here: City of Portland Pesticide Use Ordinance.
How does this affect you?
Lawn and garden products that contain synthetic pesticides are prohibited by the ordinance. This includes weed killers that contain glyphosate (such as Round Up™), fertilizer/pesticide combinations (weed and feed), and insecticides that contain imidacloprid, that can cause great harm to pollinating insect. In general, only products labeled “OMRI certified” or “acceptable for organic use” are permitted.
The pesticide ordinance covers the following areas:
- Vegetable and ornamental gardens
- Landscaped areas
- Parks and playing fields
If you currently use synthetic pesticides to manage any of the above areas, plan to transition to organic land care practices. See compliant products, land care tips, and helpful resources below.
If you use the services of a land care professional, be sure to speak with them about organic land care practices that do not include synthetic pesticides.
Land Care Tips
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
- Watering deeply but infrequently.
These practices build healthy soil, which will promote healthy plants that resists pests and drought. If weed or pest problems do occur, you still have many options for remediation.
- Use organic land care products
- Here’s a full list of products compatible with organic land care that comply with the City of Portland ordinance.
- You can also search the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) database to find compliant products. The OMRI label will also be on compliant product packaging.
- Ask the staff at your local garden center or retailer for products appropriate for organic use.
- The City allows the use of pesticides that are certified organic by the USDA or considered “minimum risk” by the EPA. Examples of the types of effective allowed pesticides include:
- Horticultural and insecticidal soaps
- Vinegar-based herbicides
- Essential oil-based pesticides
- Diatomaceous earth
- Biological-based pesticides such as bacillus thuringiensis
NOTE: Even allowed pesticides are NOT PERMITTED within 75 feet of a waterbody or wetland within the City.
- Tips for getting rid of pests and weeds
- Top 10 practices to manage your lawn and landscape organically
- BayScaping: Tips for green yards to keep Casco Bay blue (Friends of Casco Bay)
- Establishing and Care for an Organic Lawn (MOFGA)
- University of Maine Cooperative Extension - Lawn Care
- Guide to Organic Pesticides (Mother Earth News)
- Audubon Native Plant Database
Are there any instances where synthetic pesticides are allowed?
The pesticide ordinance allows property owners to address toxic or hazardous plants such as poison ivy, and to treat for dangerous pests such as ticks. Synthetic pesticides may also be used to control pests that damage structures such as carpenter ants or termites.
How will this ordinance be enforced?
The City’s Sustainability Coordinator will work with alleged violators to bring them into compliance by providing educational materials and advice on the use of organic practices and/or less toxic chemicals to achieve their desired results. The ordinance allows the City to levy fines against property owners who fail to comply with the ordinance.
To report a problem or alleged violation, contact Troy Moon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-756-8362.
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. Members of the public interested in serving on the committee may apply with the City Clerk. For more information please visit the Pesticide Management Advisory Committee page.