Do you read product labels? If you don’t, then you should
If you count carbs, fat, sodium content or total calories, then you’ve read the label on everything you bring home from the grocery store.
Are you equally as diligent when it comes to labels on lawn and landscape products? They line shelves at the hardware store, garden center and some are even in the grocery store. The labels on these products are just as important to read as the ones on the soup can. Here’s why.
RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB
Whether you’re zapping dandelions or controlling a serious pest, the product you use needs to be the right one for the job as well as applied correctly and safely. Some products have caution statements to protect the safety of the person who applies them as well as pollinators, edibles and other plants nearby. If you spray some products on dandelions in the lawn, then they will kill only the dandelion and leave the grass in tact. Other products, however, will not only zap the dandelion, but also the lawn. Labels — and knowledgeable professionals — can help you sort this out.
Apply the carpenter’s rule to measure twice and cut once to the array of lawn and garden products. Read the label carefully at least twice and apply once. If you need to treat again, then follow the label guidelines. More is not necessarily better and precautions are there for a reason.
Follow safety measures when using products labeled “natural,” which we tend to think of as non-toxic. That’s not necessarily so. Just as many plants are as poisonous as they are pretty, natural products can be as harmful as they are ecological. Even natural products have the potential to cause harm if they are not handled properly.
While many plants have developed toxins to protect themselves from pests, a product made from plant derived toxins can be toxic to humans. The toxins are sold in concentrations much higher than found naturally in plants. All chemicals, including natural ones, have the potential to cause harm if they are mishandled.
DIY or hire a professional?
If you suspect an insect or disease problem in your yard, then it’s often smarter in the long run to consult a professional. Industry professionals are trained to follow Integrated Pest Management strategies that will determine if and when a treatment is needed.
The best solution may be something as simple as pruning or changing watering practices. Sometimes introducing a predator insect can solve a problem. Other health issues may need a treatment akin to a prescription drug for humans. That’s when a pesticide may be necessary because the condition warrants it to save the plants and protect your landscape investment.
When you consult with a professional, you tap into their science-based training and horticultural knowledge. If they need to apply a pesticide, then they are the professionals who are licensed by the state of Colorado to do the work. They know the importance of following label instructions and observing safety precautions because they, themselves, are the front-line applicators.
If you read food labels because you need to follow a special diet, then apply the same strategy to lawn and garden products. Health is health whether it’s about people or plants. We are, after all, participants in the same ecosystem.
Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.
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