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.
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 lawns, vegetable and ornamental gardens, landscaped areas, patios, sidewalks, driveways as well as parks and playing fields. If you currently use synthetic pesticides to manage any of the above areas, you must 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. See our Top 10 Tips for Organic Land Care Practices in the Documents section below. Following these practices will build healthy soil, which will promote healthy plants that resist pests and drought.
If weed or pest problems do occur, you may use pest control products labeled as compatible with organic land care or OMRI certified. Local local retailers carry such products.
NOTE: Even allowed pesticides are NOT PERMITTED within 75 feet of a water body or wetland within the City.
- BayScaping: Tips for green yards to keep Casco Bay blue (Friends of Casco Bay)
- Establishing and Caring for an Organic Lawn (MOFGA)
- University of Maine Cooperative Extension - Lawn Care
If you currently have pesticides that you need to dispose of, you have a couple of options:
- Riverside Recycling Facility accepts household hazardous waste on the 1st Saturday of the month (April through November). Collection occurs from 7:30AM to 1PM. Portland E-Card holders may dispose of up to 10 gallons of HHW annually with a maximum of TWO visits at no charge. Get more information.
- Each October, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control conducts a program to collect and properly dispose of banned and unusable pesticides from homeowners and farms. Preregistration is required and collections are held at four sites across the state. More information about the program may be here.
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, please submit a SeeClickFix Pesticide Use request.
Pesticide management advisory committee
The City Council has appointed a Pesticide Management Advisory Committee to 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. For more information please visit the Pesticide Management Advisory Committee page.