When it comes to landscape care, fall and early winter are prime time for professionals to use pesticides – a broad term that includes products that eradicate insect pests and herbicides that kill weeds. As a homeowner, it’s important to evaluate if the use of these pesticides is practical.
“Many people might not have to use pesticides at all,” says Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). “For example, an infestation last year may only require all the old plant material be cut out. Often, cultural practices (pruning, raking leaves, etc.) will go a long way toward solving pest problems.”
If you decide to use pesticides to care for the trees and other plantings on your property, Andersen recommends purchasing the least toxic application. Most chemicals available to homeowners have the words “caution,” “warning,” or “danger” on their labels – try to avoid those with “warning” and “danger” labels, as they are more hazardous. Don’t be tempted to use agricultural chemicals, which are not designed for use by homeowners.
Keep in mind that if used improperly, herbicides can kill valuable mature trees and shrubs, along with sprouting weeds.
“Herbicides should not be applied on or near desirable trees, or on areas where their roots may extend or in locations where the herbicide may be washed or move into contact with their roots,” Andersen explains. “Even properly applied chemical applications may be affected by rainfall. Some herbicides can be washed off paved surfaces or soak into the ground through the cracked joints – the very place with the greatest concentration of fine tree roots.”
Remember to never use the same equipment to spray herbicides and other pesticides, and avoid mixing herbicides with other kinds of pesticides. Don’t mix or store pesticides in food containers, and don’t measure pesticides with measuring cups or spoons. Always store pesticides in the original container, and keep the label intact.
Most importantly, consult with a professional who can diagnose the pest problem ahead of time – he or she can recommend the best solutions that will save you time and money.
Published with permission from RISMedia.