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Home > Press Room > YardScaping hopes to grow a greener homeowner

Press Room

April 5, 2005
Contact: Gary Fish, 207.287.2731
For Immediate Release

YARDSCAPING HOPES TO GROW A GREENER HOMEOWNER

Augusta--Can anything be more satisfying to homeowners than a carpet of green grass? How about a healthy yard grown without the excessive use of pesticides, fertili­zers and water? This is the alternate message a new campaign called YardScaping brings to Maine homeowners this spring.

The campaign hopes to shed light on the statistical dark side of the yard care obsession: 2.9 million pounds of yard care pesticides were brought into Maine in 2004. This figure has more than doubled since 1995 and coincides with a triple explosion in the number of yard care companies in Maine in the last seven years.

The YardScaping initiative formed out of the rising concern among state agencies and other environmental stewardship organizations over the pollution caused by yard care fertilizers and pesticides washing away into streams, lakes and the ocean.

Storm water sampling study done by Friends of Casco Bay (FOCB) from 2001-03 did reveal this to be the case: yard care pesticides and fertilizers were present in Casco Bay. Mary Cerullo, associate director at FOCB said, “Homeowners don't realize yards can act like a giant funnel that empties into our precious water resources.”

Gary Fish, with 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.”

For instance, a “better” homeowner would reduce their lawn size, lower their bar on perfection—learn to accept a few weeds and insects, leave grass clippings behind, add plants adapted to Maine's climate, give plants only the nutrients they need, stop using combination fertilizer and weed control products and practice common sense pest control, to name just a few.

To get the word out about the program at the “grassroots” level, homeowners or businesses that have a YardScape or pledge to grow one can let their neighbors or clientele know by planting a weatherized YardScaping sign—much like the ones used for pesticide applications. They are free and can be picked up at a number of locations such as county Cooperative Extensions, Soil and Water Conservation District offices, and local landscape and nursery businesses. Visit www.yardscaping.org or 207-287-2731 for a detailed listing.

The coalition also has started developing its first public YardScaping demonstration site.

Working with the City of Portland, a public area has been selected for the site along the Back Cove. Once completed in 2006, it will showcase appropriate plantings in a beautiful, homeowner-doable way, plus serve as a model for municipalities across the state.

The demonstration project is funded in part by a $35,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

To learn more about how to become a YardScaper, visit www.yardscaping.org or call 207-287-2731.

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YardScaping hopes to inspire Maine people to create and maintain healthy landscapes through ecologically based practices that minimize reliance on water, fertilizer and pesticides.

YardScaping partners include the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Congress of Lake Associations, Friends of Casco Bay, Maine Soil & Water Conservation Districts, Maine State Planning Office, Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association, Southern Maine Community College, City of Portland, Town of Brunswick and many local landscape and nursery businesses.