Homeowners should know about lawn care products and services before they spend money on them. All lawn care pesticide companies have to be responsive to their customer’s questions and complaints about pesticide use to stay in business. Here are some questions that should be asked and answered to make the right decision on a pesticide or a lawn care service.
Q: What are the rules of
proper lawn pesticide use?
A: A healthy lawn can out compete most weeds, survive most insect attacks and fend off most diseases before these problems get the upper hand. Pesticides are meant to kill or control those pest problems that are out of control and threaten the health of the lawn. A pesticide is not harmless and their use cannot be made completely safe. Gardeners should not rely solely on pesticides as quick-fix solutions to lawn problems. Any lawn care professional that says it is, should not be trusted.
Q: How safe are the lawn care pesticides used by lawn care professionals and homeowners?
A: The level or risk posed by a chemical depends on the toxicity and level of exposure. Improper or inappropriate use of pesticides and other lawn care products (fertilizers), by either the homeowner or the lawn care professional, can increase the level of exposure. When pesticide exposures are increased, the level of risk posed to human health and the environment also increases.
Q: Do lawn care professionals use products that pose greater risks than those used by homeowners?
A: The pesticides regularly used by lawn care professionals are usually the same “general-use” products available to the homeowner. Lawn care products are generally labeled with the same rates, precautions and usage information, whether packaged for personal or commercial use. The products bought by the lawn care professional may be packaged in concentrates for shipping convenience and economy. Before these products are applied to a lawn, they are diluted to the same strength as the ready-to-use products sold to the homeowner. The lawn care professional should provide information about the nature of the product applied and any restrictions and cautions.
Q: What can I do to minimize any risks to my family or me?
A: The simplest way to minimize any risk is to limit exposure to pesticides. If the homeowner applies the pesticide, read the entire label and follows all directions, especially protective clothing requirements. If a professional applies the pesticides, keep all people and pets off the treated lawn immediately following use. Although many products have no specific reentry recommendations, a good rule of thumb is to stay off a treated area until it has thoroughly dried or, if possible, for 24 hours.
Q: How can I find out when pesticide applications have been made on my lawn or my neighbor’s lawn?
A: Upon request, the lawn care professional should provide information to the homeowner and adjacent neighbors regarding the pesticide used and the application schedule. A good professional lawn care service will give the homeowner a list of products being used so if there is a problem, such as allergic reaction, the homeowner can rule out that the problem was caused by the lawn care product.
Q: Who regulates lawn care products and services?
A: All lawn care products must be registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before they can be lawfully sold or distributed. A pesticide applicator license is required for anyone to act, operate, do business, or advertise commercially or non-commercially. The licensing period is annual, January 1 thru December 31 of each year. The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture requires licensing and testing before a company can apply pesticides commercially. Homeowners should be sure to use only commercial lawn care or pest control companies that are licensed by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture.
Jim Coe lives in Lawton.