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Phasing out cosmetic pesticides
Health concerns
Ask the right questions
Tips on pesticide-free gardening

Phasing out cosmetic pesticides 

Port Moody has banned the use of cosmetic pesticides within the City. Cosmetic pesticides are those used for non-essential purposes, such as lawn and garden beautification. The City has not used pesticides on City-owned lawns and gardens since 1988. Your lawn and garden can be healthy and free of pests without using chemical pesticides. This brochure will tell you how and where to get more information.

The most common pesticides used on lawns and gardens are herbicides (for killing weeds and plants) and insecticides (for killing insects). Ask yourself how the elimination of pesticides will affect your lawn or garden. Pesticides work against your efforts for a healthy lawn and garden by breaking the natural cycles that do important work in your yard. While pesticides are designed to kill targeted organisms most, unfortunately, are also toxic to bees, other beneficial insects, and birds. These are the animals you need in your yard to assist you with pollination and pest control. 

Health concerns

Not only can pesticides work against you in your lawn and garden, they may pose a health threat to you, your family and your pets. Young children are particularly at risk because they increase their exposure to pesticides by playing on the grass, putting things in their mouths, and not washing themselves as well as adults. Children also have less mature organs and immune systems, which can increase their susceptibility to the harmful effects of certain chemicals. Concerns regarding the effects of pesticides include possible links with immune dysfunction, infertility, various cancers, and birth defects. Prominent health advocacy groups such as the Canadian Cancer Society believe Canadians should discontinue the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes. 

Ask the right questions

There are alternatives to using pesticides. You can eliminate or reduce your use of pesticides by looking at the problem and finding the right solution rather than using a pesticide. Ask yourself:

  • Which pest or pests do I have – weed or insect?
  • Is it really a problem?
  • What is causing the problem?
  • What can I do naturally?

Remember, every home in Port Moody is a "waterfront property." The stormwater drains located on your street discharge rainwater into the many creeks of Port Moody. These creeks provide productive fish habitat and discharge to Burrard Inlet or, in Glenayre, to the Fraser River. Every time it rains or when yards are over-watered, the pesticides and fertilizers you use in your garden can run off, via storm drains, into our creeks where they harm aquatic life. 

Tips on pesticide-free gardening

  • Plant sensibly according to soil type and amount of sunshine. Sun-loving plants will not thrive under shady conditions. Get to know your garden and select the most suitable plants for each area. Consider planting native species which are best adapted to west coast conditions. Learn which plants are best for wet or dry, sunny or shady areas in your garden.
  • Bring on allies. You can attract beneficial insects by planting certain herbs and plants. Ladybugs and lacewings will help to control aphids. Ground beetles will eat slug larvae. If you don't have a cat in your backyard, install a bird bath and plant native shrubs to attract birds that will prey on insect pests.
  • Amend your soil if necessary. Compost can work wonders. In general, light sandy soils are less appealing to insects than heavy, wet soils.
  • Be a match-maker when you garden. Certain plant combinations can help prevent pest problems. Many plants have natural substances in their roots, flowers or leaves that can repel or attract insects, depending on your needs.
  • After weeding, discourage regrowth by using a mulch, barrier cloth or row covers.
  • Be patient. Natural processes need time. Beneficial insects and birds must first find your yard. If you have been using pesticides, it will take some time before a diverse population of beneficial insects becomes re-established in your yard.
  • If all else fails, consider the use of more natural methods of pest control. A cup of beer or half an inverted grapefruit will attract slugs. A good hosing will remove most aphids. Other options include the use of Bt bacteria, silicon dioxide ("diatomaceous earth") and some soap products. These latter products must be used cautiously as they can also harm beneficial insects. Some must be handled carefully to avoid skin irritation and inhalation.
  • See six steps for a natural, healthy lawn.

Thanks to Metro Vancouver, Green Communities Nanaimo, World Wildlife Fund Canada and the Toronto Environmental Alliance. 


Additional resources - green
  • Organic Gardening magazine 
  • Home and Garden  
  • Naturescape BC Kit 
  • How to Get Your Lawn and Garden Off Drugs    

    Last updated: 09/07/2012 8:44:33 AM