P.O. Box 40441, Providence, RI 02940

Tel. 401-351-9193, E-Mail:


(Lighting the Way to Less Toxic Living)




Prepared by the Barrington Conservation Commission, the Barrington Land Conservation Trust, and the Pokanoket Watershed Alliance.  Updated 2004 by Sandra Wyatt, 401-246-0747.




-Use slow release natural organic fertilizer

-Apply only in spring and/or fall

-Apply only over lawn; avoid driveway, street, etc.

-If your lawn’s pH needs to be raised, use ground limestone




-Mow high, at least 2-3 inches

-Keep lawn mower blades sharp

-Leave clippings on the lawn




-Water only during dry periods (less than 1 inch every 1-2 weeks)

-Water up to 1 inch; do not give light, frequent waterings as it harms the root system

-Consider planting trees, shrubs and ground covers that are native to our area and thus can   better adapt to our climatic conditions.




-All three problems are best controlled by maintaining a healthy lawn as described in 1,2,3 above


-Responsible homeowners are turning their attention to low maintenance, natural techniques and not worrying so much about a "perfect" green lawn. New grass varieties are on the market (called endophytic grasses) that resist both diseases and insects, There are even “lo-gro” types that need little mowing or fertilizing. You may want to overseed with one or more of them; several varieties of grass growing together are better able to resist the above problems. New research confirms that organic fertilizers are better for the lawn, and that cultural practices like mowing and watering properly can reduce weeds. Researchers are learning that common pesticides actually harm the lawn.


-If any of the above is a serious problem, check on natural organic products for help (see next page). Remember that most herbicides, fungicides and insecticides are harmful not only to your family and pets, but to your neighbors and to all those who share the use of our rivers.




-Compost leaves (except oak, since they take a long time to decompose) and other yard debris; turn, sift and re-use as loam or mulch. Compost bins are available from Solid Waste Co or Home Depot. Directions for composting can be picked up at the DPW office.

-Leaves dumped in woody areas kill off native growth and encourage exotic pest species; be sure to put leaves in paper compost bags for collection by the town Yard Waste truck; if you use a lawn company make sure they take all yard waste to Walker Farm or other composting area.







Natural organic fertilizers are much less soluble than chemical fertilizers, and thus do not run off so easily; your lawn will turn green just as surely, but more slowly. Natural fertilizers may be more expensive per pound, but need to applied less often and are considerably safer in the long run to environmental health.


The following is a partial list of organic products that can be found at convenient locations:



Natural organic products



Bone Meal

Nature’s Glory


Neptune’s Harvest




Milky Spore Grub Control

Seaweed compost

Nature’s Way Organic Plantfood

Lady bugs & Praying mantis’s

Rose Tone

Greenview Organic

Coast of Maine Rose Food

Coast of Maine Laurel Garden Food

Concern (diatomacious earth)


Available at


Ann & Hope Garden Shops Island Garden Shop, Portsmouth

Choppy’s, Warren

J & L, Seekonk

Agway, Rte 2, N. Kingston

Redwood Nursery, Seekonk

Meadow Nursery, Barrington


Other types are: alfalfa meal, bloodmeal, castor pomace, cottonseed meal, and Nitro-l0. Natural cedar fencing with no preservatives can be found at Redwood Nursery.


An excellent mail order source for many natural organic products is:  Gardens Alive, 5100 Schenley Place, Lawrenceburg, IN 47025, phone: 513-354-1482        fax: 513-354-1484       web address: www.GardensAlive.Com


Good reference books can be found at the library.  Look for books under natural and/or organic gardening.  Barrington Books has or will have the following within the next two weeks:


Our Stolen Future, Colborn, Dumanski, and Myers


Redesigning the American Lawn: A Search for Environmental Harmony Yale University


Organic Home Gardening: How to Grow Fruits and Vegetables Naturally Patrick Uma


A Garden for Life:   The Natural Approach to Designing. Planting and Maintaining a North Temperate Garden, I)iana Beresford-Kroeger




These lawn care companies will work with you to achieve a 95-100% natural lawn:


*Naturalawn, North Attleboro, MA, 508-695-6060

to make an appointment call Janet Keene 401-658-5200

*Nick’s Organic Lawn Service, E. Providence, RI, 434-8893

*Thompson Organic Landscaping, Providence, RI 861-3616


GroPro, 764-0207

Lawn Doctor, 1-800-323-6330, 1-800-286-8505

ProTurf Lawn Services, 463-7600

TruGreen/ChemLawn, 732-6883,1-800-685-9550


These same companies have available many other products which they commonly use in their regular (non natural, non organic) lawn care. They may suggest spot treating with one or more of these chemicals; if so, find out exactly what they suggest and compare to the list below.




A List of Common Pesticides that are known to cause environmental damage of one kind or another:

Insecticides: Diazinon                                                                    2-4 D

                     Dursban (chloropyrifos)                                      Dicamba
                     Oftanol, Amazel (isophenfos)                             Roundup (Glyphosate)
                     Lindane                                                               MCPP, Dimetrop (mecoprop)
                                                                                                 Betasan (bensulide)
                                                                                                 Trimec (mixture of 2-4D, mecoprop,
                                                                                                 and dicamba

Fungicides Benlate, carbamic acid (benomyl)




Smaller owner operated companies will have a licensed arborist on site, usually with a college degree in forestry. This is not always the case with larger tree care companies. Toxic sprays should be rarely, if ever, used on trees. Emphasis should be on feeding and removing diseased branches. Every effort should be made to avoid synthetic chemical sprays, including replacing diseased trees with disease resistant varieties. Keep in mind that spraying is a business. One operator, Robert Choate (1-508-252-9947), is known to provide environmentally responsible service.




“Garden designers, garden writers, and homeowners need to take up the challenge of creating a new standard of suburban beauty, one that moves away from the green carpet aesthetic and revels in a diversity of plants adapted to local conditions. Because this ideal of a homogeneous, flawless greensward fights a natural tendency toward diversity, it is demanding by its very nature, requiring fertilizers and pesticides, frequent watering, and a great deal of time and effort. Like flawless fruit, flawless lawns come at a high price. The time has come to change our attitudes and redesign our yards and gardens with plantings that grow comfortably in the place we live and with mowed play areas that will flourish without constant chemical support. A pioneering team from Yale University recently published a manifesto for this suburban revolution, titled Redesigning the American Lawn: A Search for Environmental Harmony which includes practical guidance for non specialists seeking to make their yards safer, saner havens.”


-from Our Stolen Future Colbom, Dumanoski, and Myers, 1996


Handout provided by Toxics Information Project (TIP), P.O. Box 40441, Providence, RI 02940.  For further info, contact TIP at 401-351-9193, or  Website:

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