Many Minnesotans are thinking about their lawns, trees and gardens this time of year. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) urges the safe use of pesticides and fertilizers on your property by following all label directions.
Pesticide and fertilizer labels specify how to use products safely and effectively. In Minnesota, it is unlawful to apply products without following label instructions. The label is the law.
If you hire a professional lawn care provider, do your homework. State law requires pesticide applicators to be licensed by the MDA in order to commercially apply pesticides and fertilizers, including weed and feed product. Applicators must know and understand state and federal regulations regarding all aspects of pesticide and fertilizer handling, application, and disposal in order to be licensed by the MDA. The following are helpful tips for a safe spring season.
If you do it yourself:
- Read and follow all label directions.
- Do not apply products in windy or adverse weather conditions. High wind can cause products to drift and potentially harm people, pets, or plants.
- Sweep sidewalks and hard surfaces of any dry or granular product and reapply to the intended site. Pesticides left on watertight surfaces easily wash into our water supply.
- Buy only what you need. Unused products must be stored according to the label, can lose effectiveness over time, and be difficult to dispose of safely.
If you hire a professional:
- Professionals must be licensed by the MDA and carry their pesticide applicator license with them. Ask to see their license before they start work.
- Be cautious of people who claim their products are completely safe, or pressure you to sign a service contract.
- Recognize posted warning flags in areas that have been chemically treated.
- Applicators are required to provide an application record to you. Review the records, including products used and the amounts applied.
- Be sure the applicator sweeps the sidewalks and hard surfaces clean of any dry or granular products.
For information about applicator licenses, call the MDA at 651-201-6615. To report unlicensed applicators, file a complaint on the MDA website or call 651-201-6333.
Consumers can contact the Better Business Bureau at 800-646-6222 or online and check customer satisfaction histories for lawn care companies.
Allen Sommerfeld, MDA Communications