Healthy Lawn Care for Healthy Communities

Picture1YardScaping is the District’s healthy lawn care education program. Weed and bug killers can harm our children and pets, and fertilizer can pollute our water. YardScaping practices build healthy soil to grow a beautiful lawn without weed and bug killers and with reduced use of fertilizer.

This page provides information for people who take care of their own lawns and those who hire lawn care professionals. We all play an important role in keeping our soil and water healthy and clean. YardScaping will help you do both!

A printable overview of the YardScaping practices is available here.

Why Yardscape?

  • Children take in more pesticides relative to body weight than adults.
  • Some studies have found that dogs exposed to certain weed killers were more likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer.
  • Weed and bug killers are designed to be toxic. Just because they’re available for purchase, doesn’t mean they’re safe.
  • Fertilizer is often used unnecessarily, which wastes money and pollutes our waters.
  • YardScaping will help you reduce the use of fertilizer and weed and bug killers.

YS logoPartner Stores

Over 20 stores in the greater Portland and Saco areas provide educational materials about YardScaping and sell products that align with the program, just follow the ducky! A list of partner stores is available to the left.

Do you take care of your own lawn?girl with toy mower

Growing a healthy, sustainable lawn doesn’t have to be difficult. Follow these easy steps for a lush, green lawn that’s safe for kids and pets and helps keep water clean:

Step 1: Spring Greening
(April – June)

  • Topdress with compost to add nutrients if needed
  • Seed bare spots with endophyte enhanced perennial ryegrass
  • Mow grass at 2” to start, then increase to 3” for the rest of the season
  • Always leave grass clippings on the lawn for free, natural fertilizer

Step 2: Water Wisely
(June – early August)

  • Water only when needed; lawns need 1-1.5” of water per week
  • Apply compost tea to add nutrients and improve soil health (optional)

Step 3: Bugs Out!
(August – September 15)

  • In early August, apply beneficial nematodes for grub control if needed
  • After August 15, overseed with endophyte enhanced tall and fine fescue mix
  • Fertilize with slow-release nitrogen if needed (look for 10-0-0 on the bag)

Step 4: Simply Soil
(September 15 – October 15)

  • Test soil pH
  • Apply calcium rich lime if pH is less than 6.0

More information about each of the healthy lawn care practices mentioned above is available by following the fact sheet links to the right.

Do you hire a lawn care company?

lawn care professionalAsk them to YardScape with these requests for your lawn care provider:

  • Apply fertilizer in the early fall, based on soil test results, not on a fixed schedule. Applying fertilizer unnecessarily is a waste of time and money and pollutes our water.
  • Use YardScaping practices to reduce pests instead of using weed and bug killers. The use of synthetic or organic weed and bug killers has health risks, especially for children and pets.
  • Set your mower blades to 3″ and leave the clippings. Cutting grass high allows roots to develop, and leaving the clippings provides your lawn with a free source of fertilizer.
  • Topdress by spreading a thin layer of compost over the lawn. Compost will add organic matter and increase soil depth.
  • Overseed with a mixture of fescues and ryegrasses. Help out compete weeds and rejuvenate your lawn by adding new seed.