Integrated Pest Management Program
The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program coordinates the long-term prevention or suppression of pest problems (including weeds) on city lands while doing everything possible to minimize impacts to human health, the environment and non-target organisms.
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)
EAB is a federally quarantined, invasive tree pest that kills ash trees. Not all trees can or should be treated.
Rat prevention and control
An online guide about what to do to keep rats out of your home or business--and what to do if they're already there.
What is Integrated Pest Management?
Integrated Pest management (IPM) focuses on long-term prevention or suppression of pest problems while minimizing the impact on human health, the environment and non target organisms.
For more information, please review the Integrated Pest Management Policy and the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Pesticide Use Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
To learn where and when pesticides will be applied on city properties, see the online Pesticide Hotline. You can also sign up for an RSS feed of the Pesticide Hotline page. This means that, when set-up via your email, you will receive automatic updates as soon as the Pesticide Hotline webpage is updated.
This information may also be obtained from a recorded telephone hotline at 303-441-3400.
IPM includes four types of controls:
- Cultural controls eliminate conditions favorable to pests. Tactics include improving and amending the soil; choosing hardy, native plants for landscaping; mowing; maintaining clean sites and good water management.
- Mechanical controls eliminate pests by physically removing them. Examples include hand-picking or rinsing (with water) insects off garden plants, or using an old-fashioned mousetrap in your home.
- Biological controls use other organisms to eliminate problem pests. Applying ladybugs to plots infested with aphids is a biological control.
- Chemical controls include pesticides. Pesticides are potentially hazardous and should be used with extreme care.
- The City of Boulder manages nearly 40,000 acres of land in the Boulder Valley, along with numerous buildings and facilities. Every year, action is required in some areas to control noxious weeds and insect and animal pest populations. In 1993, the City of Boulder adopted an Integrated Pest Management policy to make city pest control operations more effective and less toxic. The IPM policy dictates that cultural, mechanical or biological controls be considered before using pesticides.
- The Open Space and Mountain Parks Department uses controlled burning to restore natural conditions (controlling disease, exotic plants and insect pests); mowing and grazing to limit the spread of weeds; and the release of beneficial insects to control pest populations.
- The Public Works plants medians with native vegetation; xeriscapes; and hand pulls weeds instead of spraying.
- The Parks and Recreation Department uses an increased blade height for mowers, aerates turf and uses computerized watering to increase the vigor of grasses on city property. These activities limit the number of weeds and the need for herbicides.
- The Forestry Division treats trees only for those diseases and insect pests that potentially threaten the life of the tree. Non-toxic insect traps and other alternative products are used for tree care.
- The Housing Authority, in conjunction with the city, is working with residents to reduce conditions favorable to pests and testing products with lower levels of toxic chemicals.
- Using pesticides may seem to be the quickest and easiest way to get rid of weeds and insect pests, but there are many non-chemical options available that pose a reduced threat to our health and the environment.
- Before choosing which controls to use, evaluate your attitude toward pests. For example, how many mosquito bites can you tolerate before spraying chemicals, especially when you consider that mosquitoes attract swallows and other birds to neighborhoods? Our perception of what is natural and healthy, versus what is uncomfortable or unsightly, helps determine the type of action we take.
The City of Boulder Pesticide Ordinance (Section 6-10-1 B.R.C. 1981) requires posting a notice on property where pesticides are used.
- Consider cultural, mechanical and biological controls first. See some tips for specific types of pests.
- Before using a pesticide, research to see if there's a nontoxic method for handling your pest problem.
- If you must use pesticides, use the minimum amount necessary to perform the task and follow label instructions. Try to use the least toxic pesticides first.
- Buy only as much as you will need.
- Take proper safety precautions.
- Target the pesticide to the specific pests.
- Avoid spraying on windy days.
- Store any excess according to the label, or take it to the Household Hazardous Waste drop-off site. Call 303-441-4800 for information.
In 2010, the city initiated an assessment of its IPM program. The IPM Institute of North America, the Pesticide Research Institute and Osborne Organics worked together to evaluate the city’s IPM program. The key findings and recommendations of this assessment can be found in the report entitled, Moving IPM Forward in the City of Boulder.
The City of Boulder 2011 Annual IPM Report includes information and background about the city’s IPM programs and activities.
Natural lawn care is simple and cost-effective. Use these simple tips to create a beautiful lawn that is safe for your children, pets and the environment.
- Water Deeply and Infrequently - Water deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth–one inch per week is ideal. You can easily measure that amount by placing a cup in your yard while watering. When your sprinkler fills it one inch deep, your watering for the week is done. Water early in the morning to minimize turf disease problems.
- Mow High - Keep your lawn mowed at three inches or higher. This will increase the root strength and naturally shade out weeds. Don’t mow your lawn unless it needs it. This creates healthy grass that can withstand drought and stay green longer.
- Use Organic Fertilizers - Commercial fertilizers easily wash away, polluting nearby lakes and streams. Many contain toxic weed killers. Choose an organic fertilizer to capture and deliver nutrients to the lawn throughout the growing season. Keep grass clippings on the lawn as they are an excellent natural fertilizer.
- Weed Naturally - Proper lawn care maintenance naturally eliminates most weeds. Avoid using pesticides, as they can harm other beneficial living things such as bees, birds and fish. The right tool makes quick work of weeding. After pulling weeds, use grass seed and soil to fill in the hole. Your lawn will be strong and healthy as a result.
Integrated Pest Management Menu
Global honeybee populations are in steep decline. Learn the actions you can take today to help protect our valuable pollinators.
Learn more about Emerald Ash Borer's presence in Boulder and what you can do about it. EAB is a federally quarantined, invasive tree pest.
The Integrated Pest Management Program mitigates long-term prevention or suppression of pest problems (including weeds) on city lands.
Notices of pesticide applications within Boulder city limits and on city-owned Open Space and Mountain Parks lands.
An outreach and education effort to inform Boulder residents that noxious weeds must be removed from private property.