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The YARDSCAPING partnership formed out of the rising concern among statewide organizations and agencies over the possible pollution caused by yard care products washing away into water bodies and the risks of pesticide exposure to people, pets and wildlife.

Gary Fish, a member of the YardScaping Partnership and manager of pesticide programs at the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, knows how deep the pursuit for the perfect yard can go after working for the nation's largest yard care company.

"YardScaping hopes to change the way people think about their yards," he said. "We hope to grow a better homeowner, so to speak."

A "better" yard lover would lower their bar on perfection, learn to accept a few weeds and insects, leave grass clippings, reduce the size of their lawn, consider groundcovers in shady areas, select the right plant for the right place, to name a few.

To help get the word out about the program at the neighborhood level, property owners that have a YardScape or pledge to grow one can display a weather resistant YardScaping sign in their yards much like the ones used by commercial lawn care companies after pesticides are applied.

In the fall of 2011, the partnership, along with many local volunteers, completed the first YardScaping demonstration site YardScaping Gardens at Back Cove in Portland. The gardens showcase appropriate plantings in a beautiful, homeowner-doable way, plus serve as a model for municipalities across the state.

The demonstration project was funded in part by a $35,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency and a $10,000 grant from the Davis Conservation Foundation and donations of time and money by many other individuals and organizations.