Spring is here and many Minnesotans are thinking about their lawns, trees and gardens. Pesticides and fertilizers can be a useful management tool when used appropriately on these sites.
Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) urges the safe use of pesticides and fertilizers by reading and following all label directions. In Minnesota, it is unlawful to apply products without following label instructions.
Follow these tips and have a safe and successful gardening season.
If you use pesticide and fertilizers yourself:
- Read and follow all label directions.
- Do not apply products in windy or adverse weather conditions that can cause products to drift and potentially harm people, pets, or plants.
- Sweep sidewalks and hard surfaces of unused product and reapply to their intended site. Pesticides left on these surfaces easily wash into our water supply.
- Buy only what you need to avoid leftovers. Unused products can go bad quickly, they are difficult to dispose of and turn into a hazardous nuisance.
Do some homework if you hire a commercial applicator to treat your lawn and trees. Select a licensed professional that comes with experience and recommendations. Commercial applicators must show that they know how to use chemicals safely and properly before MDA awards them a license. When hiring a professional:
- Ask to see their MDA issued license before they start work.
- Be wary of claims that products are completely safe, or of pressure to sign a long-term service contract.
- Recognize posted warning signs and avoid areas that have been chemically treated.
- Review the application record that shows what was used and how much was applied.
- Insist that sidewalks and hard surfaces are swept clean of product to protect our water supply.
For information about applicator licenses, call the MDA at 651-201-6615. To report unlicensed applicators, please file a complaint on the MDA website (www.mda.state.mn.us) or call 651-201-6333.
Consumers can call the Better Business Bureau at 800-646-6222 and check customer satisfaction histories for lawn care companies.
Allen Sommerfeld, MDA Communications