Spring is here, and many Minnesotans are working on lawns, trees, and gardens. 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 against the law to apply products without following label instructions. The label is the law.
If you hire a professional lawn care service, do your homework. State law requires pesticide applicators to be licensed by the MDA to commercially apply pesticides and fertilizers, including weed and feed products. Applicators must know and understand state and federal regulations regarding all aspects of pesticide and fertilizer handling, application, and disposal 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 area. Pesticides left on these 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 properly. Find a pesticide waste collection site near you to safely dispose of any unused product.
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 record, 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, please file a complaint on the MDA website or call 651-201-6333.
Consumers can call the Better Business Bureau at 651-699-1111 and check customer satisfaction histories for lawn care companies.
Allen Sommerfeld, MDA Communications