Pesticides and Lawn Care

Richmond Hill promotes a pesticide-free community. Pesticides are chemicals used to keep away and kill unwanted insects. They can be bad for the health of the environment, animals and people.

It's against the law to use some pesticides on your lawn or garden in Ontario under the Pesticides Act.

For more information about the ban, contact the Ministry of the Environment's Public Information Centre at 1-800-565-4923 or 416-325-4000.

Some easy steps for keeping your lawn natural and pesticide-free:

Fertilize appropriately
The best time to fertilize is in the spring or fall. Usually, one application a year is enough. Environmentally friendly fertilizing products include slow release, organic or phosphorus free fertilizers such as compost, grass clippings or corn gluten meal. Compost provides nutrients and important microbes that help break down thatch and prevent pests. Contact the Composting Council of Canada for more information.
Let your lawn breathe
Removing plugs of soil and leaving it on the grass is a natural technique to help keep your lawn healthy. This is called core aeration. It keeps the soil from getting hard and compacted and encourages deeper rooting. This also allows water, nutrients and organic matter to get into the soil. Rent a mechanical aerator or hire a lawn care company to do the job in the spring and fall before fertilizing, top dressing and overseeding.
Monitor your soil and lawn
Keep an eye out for signs of pests on your lawn. Consult a local gardening store or other resources to understand pests you may have and to make good choices for controlling them. You can also purchase do-it-yourself soil test kits or send in soil samples to a laboratory to determine the pH and nutrient levels in your soil. Knowing these levels will help you take better care of your lawn.
Mow your lawn

Set your mower blade to 8 cm (3"). This gets the roots to grow, shades out weeds and keeps the soil moist. Leave your grass clippings on the lawn - they help to fertilize and add moisture. You should sharpen the lawn mower blade every spring.

Replace some grass with native plants

Replacing your grass, gravel or pavement with native plants reduces the need for fertilizer and pesticides. Native wildflowers, shrubs and trees slow the speed of runoff water, which helps prevent floods by blocking and absorbing excess water. Native plants are also adapted to grow in local conditions, generally doing well with no pesticides at all.

Top dress and overseed your lawn

In late summer or early fall spread a 0.5 cm (1/8") to 1 cm (1/2") layer of compost mixed with hardy, drought tolerant, pest-resistant grass species. Apply more top dressing and seeds to sparse areas. Pick a seed mixture that has a variety of types such as perennial ryegrass, fescues, clover, native grasses and wildflowers. Your choice will depend on the sun, soil and moisture of your lawn. After top dressing and overseeding, water your lawn with 2.5 cm (1") of water.

Water your lawn

When there isn't a lot of rain, water your lawn early in the morning with 2.5 cm (1") of water once a week to keep it green in the summer. Use a rain gauge or a tuna can under your sprinkler to measure the 2.5 cm (1") level. When it rains, wait seven days before considering watering your lawn again.

View Richmond Hill's lawn watering restrictions.

If you would prefer to hire a company to look after your lawn, we encourage you to consider companies that provide organic lawn care options.