Safe Pesticide Usage: Using Pesticides In The Garden Safely

Safe Pesticide Usage: Using Pesticides In The Garden Safely

Using pesticides in the garden may not be the best solution for the environment, but sometimes it’s the most effective way to take care of troublesome pest problems that may crop up in the garden. Pesticides are made up of chemicals, and the effects of pesticide use may be harmful not only to the environment but to us as well.

For this reason, it’s important to learn about safe pesticide usage. The proper use of pesticides, should you decide to go this route, can alleviate many safety concerns.

Types of Garden Pesticide

There are many different types of garden pesticide serving many different needs. These include insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides. There are botanical forms of pesticide that are available as well. These are generally derived from plants and considered ‘organic’ by some; however, these may still be toxic to beneficial insects and wildlife.

Using Pesticides in the Garden

Typically, the first response to pests in the lawn or garden is to reach for and apply pesticide, regardless of the type or even its purpose. If it says pesticide, it’s assumed that using it in full force will rid the lawn and garden of any and all pests. Unfortunately, this can lead to unnecessary applications and overuse.

Since pesticides are toxic, they should be used carefully, and if at all possible, sparingly. There are other pest control methods that you can and should attempt before grabbing that pesticide spray.

Safe Pesticide Usage

If you familiarize yourself with the plants in your garden and the pests that affect them, you’ll have a more roundabout idea as to what types of pests you may be dealing with in order to properly eradicate them. It also helps to check your garden frequently for any possible problems and then carefully determine whether any treatment is necessary.

If so, try using methods that are more natural first. Garden pesticides should always be your last resort. Once all other control methods have failed or have been deemed impractical, go ahead and try safe pesticide usage, selecting one that is specifically designed for your particular situation and target pest.

To avoid adverse effects of pestice use, always read and follow the directions for proper application and apply only the amount specified. You should also wear protective clothing, especially gloves, as garden pesticides can easily be absorbed through the skin and contaminated clothing, which should be washed separately as well.

The proper use of pesticides includes avoiding pesticides in the garden during periods of rainfall or in windy conditions. This could lead to possible contamination of other areas, such as your neighbor’s lawn or garden. Likewise, applying pesticide to barren or eroded areas and near water sources, such as ponds or streams, should also be avoided.

Pests of some kind will always be a part of the gardening experience; in fact, it’s inevitable. However, the use of pesticides may not always be necessary, and if they are, they should be used only as a last resort, using them safely and responsibly.

Responsible and safe pesticide usage in your garden is essential regardless of whether you are using a natural or chemical combatant. More is not better as far as pesticide application goes.

Excessive application of pesticide is not only an environmental risk, but it can also damage whatever you are treating—such as your lawn or plants.

Learning about safe pesticide usage is key to alleviating a myriad of safety concerns that come with it. Pesticides call for respectful and smart handling along with a keen understanding of the manufacturer’s instructions concerning mixing, timing and application rates.

Proper use of pesticides can protect your plants from damage while maintaining the environmental integrity. On the contrary, inappropriate usage of pesticides and failing to adhere to the label instructions can be disastrous to your plants and environment at large.

It can impair the health of your plants and contribute to soil, water, and air pollution. The following are tips for safe pesticide usage. For more information on the same you can visit here.

Understand Pesticide Toxicity

Whereas all pesticides are considered harmful, some are more poisonous than others. The relative toxicity of pesticides implies to how dangerous they are to warm-blooded animals.

It is expressed as LD50, which is an abbreviation for lethal dose 50%. This measure determines pesticides that can kill half of a test animal population. LD50 is based on mg of active ingredients per kg of total body weight.

Hence, pesticides with the lowest LD50 are more toxic to people. For the sake of simplicity, a pesticide label comes with one of three signals indicating relative toxicity to human beings. These signals include the following:

  • DANGER is a label that applies to pesticides with an LD50 value of less than 50. They are highly toxic, and you need special certification to be permitted to buy and use them.

  • WARNING is a label indicating pesticides with moderate toxicity. Their LD50 may range anywhere between 50 and 500.

  • CAUTION applies to pesticide products with either low or very low toxicity to humans. These products can have an LD50 of 500 and above. Most pesticides available to homeowners typically come with this signal word on their labels.

Despite the signal word you can see on a product label, keep in your mind that all pesticides have the potential to poison. For that reason, make sure to go through all the instructions and directions of use and follow them to the letter.

Mixing Pesticides

Accurately measuring concentrated formulations of pesticide products is vital for efficient and safe usage. The product label shows the application rate for pesticides, which can be in ounces per gallon of water. Follow these procedures and make sure to dilute and apply materials according to the directions provided.

You are advised to wear the right equipment when mixing and applying pesticides in your garden. These include a coverall garment, unlined boots, hat, long-sleeve shirt, and unlined neoprene or rubber gloves.

The pesticide concentrates are highly toxic compared to the diluted spray. So, wearing goggles, rubber apron, and a respirator is highly advisable. Visit Northeast Greenhouse Conference for additional information.

Do not eat or smoke when mixing pesticides. The odds are you will carry pesticide traces to your mouth if you eat while mixing pesticides. Additionally, some pesticide products are known to be flammable. Smoking while applying pesticides can be dangerous.

Develop a habit of mixing or diluting pesticides outdoors or in a ventilated area. Do not use cups or spoons to measure the pesticides for mixing. Always utilize the equipment listed on the product label, and carefully measure the pesticide for accuracy.

Mix pesticide according to the requirements for each application. Never prepare larger amounts for storage and possible future use.

Stored pesticides can degrade hence become ineffective over time. Visit this website to see how to calculate the correct amount of pesticide for use.

Maximizing Effectiveness

Apply and re-apply a repellent according to the label instructions. Don't overuse the products, but be sure to apply the amount of repellent indicated by the label. If you don't follow the label directions, the product may not be as effective as you expect. The label on the insect repellent product is your guide to using these products safely and effectively. The effectiveness of the product can vary due to conditions such as:

  • Physical activity/perspiration.
  • Water exposure.
  • Air temperature.
  • How attractive you are to mosquitoes and ticks every person is different.


Avoid disposing of pesticides whenever possible:

  • Mix up only enough pesticide for the job.
  • Use up small amounts of excess pesticides -- apply them according to the directions on the label.
  • If you cannot use it, ask your neighbors if they have a similar pest control problem and can use it up.

  • Follow all disposal instructions on the pesticide label.
  • Check with your local solid waste management authority, environmental agency or health department to find out whether your community has a household hazardous waste collection program or a similar program for getting rid of unwanted, leftover pesticides. These authorities can also inform you of any local requirements for pesticide waste disposal. To identify your local solid waste agency,
    • Search the internet or look in the government section of your phone book under categories such as solid waste, public works, or garbage, trash or refuse collection for your town, city or county.
    • Contact Earth 911 at 1-800-CLEANUP or
  • Never reuse empty pesticide containers. Pesticide residues can contaminate the new contents and cause serious harm.
  • Never pour pesticides down the sink, toilet, sewer, or street drain.
    • Many municipal drinking water and wastewater treatment systems are not equipped to remove all pesticides.
    • If pesticides reach waterways, they can harm fish, plants, and other living things.

State and local pesticide disposal laws may be stricter than the federal requirements on the label. Check with your state or local agencies before disposing of extra pesticides.


As schools reopen, it is critically important that students and children return to clean and healthy learning environments. On Oct. 13, EPA will host a webinar dedicated to best management practices for cleaning and disinfecting schools, day cares and universities.

The webinar, Addressing Disease Mitigation in Schools, Daycare Centers and Universities with Sanitizers and Disinfectants, will provide participants with cleaning and disinfection recommendations to fight pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

  • how educational institutions are implementing cleaning and disinfecting protocols
  • how to properly clean high-touch surfaces
  • how to interpret product labels for proper use, safety and personal protection and
  • how to use EPA web-based resources to select disinfectants approved for use against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).

EPA will engage with stakeholders such as administrators, facility managers, custodial staff and nurses at schools, day cares and universities. This information will also be helpful to health departments and pest management professionals.

Featured speakers include:

  • Janet Hurley, Extension Program Specialist at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
  • Brian Burden, Executive Director and Vice President at Mooring USA
  • Kenneth McPherson, Pesticide Safety and Integrated Pest Management in Schools Coordinator at EPA Region 6 and
  • Kristen Willis, Ph.D., Senior Scientist at EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs Antimicrobials Division.

This webinar represents the latest in EPA’s ongoing efforts to keep Americans safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about EPA’s response here.

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