ST. PAUL, Minn. – With the arrival of spring, Minnesotans may be thinking about lawns, trees and gardens. Whether you are doing it yourself or hiring a professional, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) urges the safe use of pesticides and fertilizers by following all label directions.
In other words, “the label is the law.” Pesticide and fertilizer labels specify how to use products safely and effectively. In Minnesota, it is unlawful to apply products without following label instructions.
If you hire a professional lawn care provider, do your homework. State law requires applicators to be licensed by the MDA in order to commercially apply weed and feed products, plant nutrient fertilizers, or pesticides to control weeds, insects or fungi. To be licensed by the MDA, applicators must possess knowledge and demonstrate qualifications to safely perform lawn, tree and garden services.
Follow these tips for a safe spring gardening season:
- Licensed professionals must carry a valid ID card, so ask to see it before they start work;
- Be wary of people who claim their products are completely safe, or pressure you to sign a service contract;
- Recognize posted warning flags in areas that have been chemically treated;
- Review written records provided by applicators to document their work, including products used and amounts applied;
- If you do it yourself, do not apply products in windy or adverse weather conditions. High wind can cause products to drift and potentially harm people or plants;
- Sweep sidewalks and hard surfaces of unused product and reapply to their intended site; and,
- Buy only what you need and store unused product safely.
Consumers can call the Better Business Bureau at 800-646-6222 and check customer satisfaction history about lawn care companies. 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.