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An Opportunity to Skip the Chemicals

Some residents choose to forego chemical treatments in favor of organic lawn care options.  Whether you choose to go completely organic or are working toward minimizing your use of synthetic lawn chemicals, the tips below can help you cultivate a healthy lawn that is healthy for the environment.  Many thanks to the engaged residents who initiated the Toxic-Free Challenge and passed along this information to the Town.

Pittsford Challenge for a Toxic-Free Neighborhood

Join your neighbors and skip the synthetic chemicals this year

Re-evaluate your lawn contract
  • Avoid non-organic pesticides and herbicides
  • Organic-slow release fertilizer, only in the fall
  • Avoid lawn-stressing spring & summer applications
  • Skeptical? Try skipping pesticides one year and see
Choose the right plants
  • Fescues for shade
  • Blue and rye for sun
  • Try non-grass ground covers
Mow correctly
  • 3 inches or higher
  • Return clippings to lawn
  • Keep blades sharp
Develop healthy soil
  • Chemical use can destroy a healthy soil ecosystem
  • Add a top layer of organic material such as composted manure instead
  • Aerate every 1-2 years
Water correctly
  • Only in the early morning, if at all
  • Deep watering of 1” weekly to encourage deep roots
  • Use a tuna can to measure sprinkler output
Consider native plants
  • Try replacing some of your grass with native trees, shrubs and flowers
  • Native plants need no water, very little care, and no chemicals
Patch bare spots quickly
  • Weeds love bare ground

Further Sustainable Landscaping Info & Resources

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Sustainable Landscaping website has extensive information about green yard and garden tips, selecting native plants and resources for a chemical free yard. Visit to learn more.

Toxic Free Challenge

Other Toxic-Free Tips

Killing Weeds with Household Vinegar and Dish Soap
  • Mix regular household white vinegar (5% acetic acid concentration) with a few drops of liquid dish soap.
  • Treat while the area to be treated is dry and in full sun.
  • Spray directly on young or newly emerged weeds. Weeds will dry out and die.
  • This approach works best with young/newly emergent weeds.
  • While the mixture burns on contact and will kill the above ground plant parts that it touches, it won't kill the roots of older, more established weeds, thus allowing weeds to re-sprout.
  • Take great care if using horticultural vinegars (with higher acetic acid concentrations) - these can burn skin, cause eye damage, and are especially damaging to any toads or other creatures shading themselves beneath the weeds.