March 20 marked the first day of Spring and after a long winter, most gardeners are itching to get their hands in the soil. The promise of spring brings opportunities to prepare your yard for fun and beauty. As you tackle your lawn and garden challenges, it is important to remember pesticides and fertilizers should always be used and disposed of according to label directions.
When used properly, pesticides can protect your plants and home from pests. Always read and follow label directions when using products in and around your home. Some helpful spring gardening tips from the University of California, Davis Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program:
If you use garden chemicals:
- Identify your pest problem and choose the least toxic pesticide that controls your pest. Examples include bait stations, insecticidal soaps and oils, and the microbial insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).
- Contact your local Master Gardener or Cooperative Extension office for help identifying your pest or a pest control method.
- Don’t water after applying garden chemicals, unless the label tells you to do so. Never let pesticide or fertilizer run off into storm drains.
- Avoid applying chemicals outdoors when rain is forecast or when it is windy.
- Don’t apply pesticides or fertilizers on paved surfaces.
When using and storing garden chemicals:
- Always wear clothing and any other equipment listed on the product label.
- Properly measure concentrated formulations of pesticides. Keep all measuring tools for the garden separate from those used for food.
- Never apply more product than the amount listed on the label.
- Always keep chemicals in their original container and store them tightly capped in a locked cabinet out of the reach of children and pets.
- For help in an emergency, call your local poison control center.
Disposing of pesticides and fertilizers:
- If you can’t use up your pesticides, fertilizers, and weed killers, consider giving them away.
- Sewage treatment plants aren’t designed to remove all toxic chemicals from wastewater. Pouring garden chemicals into a storm drain, down the sink, or in the toilet is never an option—and it is against the law!
- The only allowable way to dispose of pesticides is to use them up according to label directions or to take them to a household hazardous waste site.
It is almost time for outdoor birthday parties, backyard games and hammocks. Appropriate use of lawn and garden products will enhance your property for you and your guests. Welcome Spring!