About the Safe Grow Act
The Safe Grow Act places restrictions on the use of cosmetic pesticides for lawn care on public and private property. Effective March 2014, the City prohibits commercial pesticide applicators from applying restricted pesticides for lawn care purposes on private property or public rights-of-way in the City. Safe Grow will be in effect for property owners and tenants as of January 1, 2015.
City of Takoma Park’s list of restricted pesticides includes pesticide and pesticide products that are known to cause cancer, endocrine disruption, and are identified by Canada, the European Union and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as having other toxicity characteristics. Exceptions exist for the control of certain noxious weeds, invasive species, and for public health pests.
The Safe Grow Advantage
Sustainable management practices result in better outcomes at a competitive cost. Takoma Park provides information on sustainable lawn care practices and products that can help residents maintain healthy lawns without the use of harmful chemicals; many of these resources are available on this page.
For more information on the Safe Grow Act contact:
Safe Grow Compliance
Notice of Pesticide Application
All property owners or commercial applicators must correctly fill and post a notice to verify that the pesticide applied is not a restricted pesticide. The notice must be posted two days prior and remain in place two days after the application. The notice shall be visible from public rights-of-way at the point closest to the area of application. Download the notice for posting:
Failure to post this written notice will result in:
- Written warning: From March 1, 2014, through June 30, 2014, the City shall issue a written warning to any Commercial pesticide applicator that fails to post and maintain the required written notice
- Municipal infraction: Starting July 1, 2014, failure to post and maintain the written notice is a Class G municipal infraction.
Before applying a restricted pesticide applicators must request a waiver and receive approval from the City.
When applying a waiver the applicant shall provide substantial proof that they have exhausted all reasonable alternatives to the use of restricted pesticides for lawn care. In deciding waiver requests, the City Manager shall balance the need for the use of restricted pesticides against the risks of such use. Restricted pesticide shall only be applied after a waiver is granted by the City.
Complete the waiver form and submit it to the Public Works Department directly.
History & Background of Safe Grow
Maryland is one of only seven states that allow local governments to enact stronger protections from pesticides. The City of Takoma Park, in its Strategic Plan for 2010-2015, recognizes concern for clean water, and safe neighborhoods and working environments, recommends the “use of alternative, less environmentally damaging products,” and prioritizes protecting the health of its residents. Scientific studies show that pesticide exposures are linked to numerous health and environmental effects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Academy of Sciences, and the 2010 President’s Cancer Panel have concluded that pesticide exposure is linked to reproductive disorders, birth defects, learning disabilities, neurological disease, endocrine disorders, and cancer. Consequently, the City’s neighbors recently passed laws that restrict pesticide use. Washington, DC enacted the Pesticide Education and Control Amendment Act of 2012 which offers protections from restricted use pesticides on public property near waterways, schools, daycare centers and city-owned property. To the east, the Sustainable Land Care Policy of 2011 in Greenbelt, MD strictly prohibits the use of synthetic chemical pesticides on all city-owned land. Similarly, most provinces in Canada have also banned the use of cosmetic lawn chemicals, and subsequent studies show a dramatic increase in environmental health. Given the scientific information and using these policies as a guide, the City enacted the Safe Grow Act of 2013 to reduce harmful pesticide use within the City.
What This Means for Homeowners, Businesses, & Other Residential Users
The Safe Grow Act places restrictions on the use of cosmetic pesticides for lawn care on public and private property. Effective March 2014, the City prohibits Commercial Pesticide applicator from applying restricted pesticides for lawn care purposes on private property or public rights-of-way in the City. While, for a property owner or tenant the law will be effective from January 1, 2015.
City of Takoma Park list of restricted pesticides includes pesticide and pesticide products that are known to cause cancer, endocrine disruption, and are identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Canada has having other toxicity characteristics. Exceptions exist for the control of certain noxious weeds, invasive species, and for public health pests.
Sustainable management practices result in better outcomes at competitive cost. The City provides information on sustainable lawn care practices and products that can help residents maintain healthy lawns without the use of harmful chemicals.
Safe Grow Frequently Asked Questions
What is considered a lawn?
A lawn is defined as an area of grass or other vegetation of at least 25 square feet that is kept mowed.
When did Safe Grow go into effect?
The Safe Grow Act became effective for commercial applicators on March 1, 2014 and for private residents the law became effective as of January 1, 2015.
After July 1, 2015, the City of Takoma Park can enforce the law with a municipal infraction citation and fine for violations by private residents.
What pesticides does Safe Grow restrict?
The List of Restricted Pesticides page has a comprehensive list of restricted pesticides in Takoma Park.
What pesticides are not included in Safe Grow?
Usage of the following pesticides are not prohibited by the Safe Grow Act:
- Cockroach and mosquito sprays and baits.
- Insect repellents for personal and household use.
- Rat and other rodent poisons.
- Flea and tick sprays, powders, and pet collars.
- Kitchen, laundry, and bath disinfectants and sanitizers.
- Products that kill mold and mildew.
- Some swimming pool chemicals.
Are there situations where pesticide applications are allowed?
- Treatment to kill noxious growths. This includes poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, ragweed, bamboo, kudzu‐vine, non‐native honeysuckle, wisteria, and multi flora rose.
- Treatment to kill noxious weeds. This includes thistles (Canada, musk, nodding, plumeless, bull thistle), johnsongrass (or hybrids that contain johnsongrass as a parent), shatter cane and wild cane.
- Treatment for invasive species determined to be detrimental to the environment. This needs to be done in accordance with a license issued by the City of Takoma Park or Montgomery County.
- Use of pesticides mandated by state or federal law.
- Treatment to control insects that are venomous or disease carrying.
How do I report possible Safe Grow violations?
The Public Works Department is responsible for education and enforcement of the law. If you believe pesticides are being applied on a lawn in violation of Safe Grow, you can contact Public Works at email@example.com or 301-891-7633.
It is helpful to take a photo of the property and of any pesticide warning flags. If the pesticide is being applied by a commercial applicator please note the company name when reporting the violation.
What are the penalties for violation of Safe Grow?
An application of a restricted pesticide carries a $100 fine for the first offense and a $400 fine for repeat offenses.
Safe Grow Resources
Lawn Care Workshop
Takoma Park hosted a workshop on organic turf management. Chip Osborne, president of Osborne Organics gave presentation on Systems Approach to Natural Turf Management. Watch the workshop here or on City TV‘s YouTube channel.
Natural Lawn & Landscape Management (Part 1)
Natural Lawn & Landscape Management (Part 2)
Natural Lawn & Landscape Management (Part 3)
Please direct your questions and concerns related to Safe Grow to:
Special Projects Coordinator
Safe Grow Sections
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