Using landscape chemicals safely

Wayne Hobbs Clay County Environmental Horticulture Agent
Posted 4/10/19

When an issue presents itself in the landscape, people’s minds usually go directly towards a fix.Chemicals Aren’t always the answerFirst of all, remember that not every landscape issue …

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Using landscape chemicals safely


When an issue presents itself in the landscape, people’s minds usually go directly towards a fix.

Chemicals Aren’t always the answer

First of all, remember that not every landscape issue should not or cannot be resolved with fertilizer, pesticides, or fungicides. The key is properly identifying what is happening and then researching what the next step will be.

Oftentimes, when I get a call about a plant issue we are first looking for issues with soil, water, or the area where the plant is located. If issues are present with the site, it can cause the plants to appear sick or even lead to diseases or pests. This identification step is key as well because over application of chemicals can cause issues more severe than what you are trying to solve.

Also, before choosing a pesticide look for non-chemical options that will solve your issue. If need something identified or have any questions about how to handle a landscape issue, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.

The label is the law

With any pesticide, including those for insects, disease, or weeds, reading the label is the key first step in any application. The information provided by the manufacturer on the label must be followed. You are legally required to do so and failure to do so will put you, others, your landscape, and the environment at risk.

Make sure to read through the label and learn about potential hazards and what to do in case spills or accidents occur. Also, look at the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required to know what you need to wear to reduce exposure for yourself. If you have any questions about the instructions on the label, contact information is also provided by the manufacturer to provide support.

The label will include instructions for applications as well and you must follow these exactly. Do not over- or under-apply any product unless the label says it is safe to do so. Also, only apply it to a site where it is labeled, meaning do not put lawn fungicide in a garden or in-home products into the landscape. All of the information on the label is vital to make sure the application is effective and safe.

One other part of pesticide application that many people are concerned about is how they may affect pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Information on this topic is found on the label and apply them as directed to reduce issues or find an alternative treatment if the risk is too large.

Beware of false information

As part of the University of Florida system, we only share research-based information in our recommendations and in the age of the internet there are many “homemade” pesticide solutions and other suggestions around the internet. Be wary of using many of these as results are not proven and they may cause more harm than good or will not control the pest issue.

Some recommendations made in other sources may even be dangerous, such as to use moth balls in the landscape, or applying strong mixes of household ingredients that can harm plants or the environment.

If you have any more questions about soil tests, other landscape topics, or need plant or pest materials identified, contact the University of Florida/IFAS Extension Office online at, follow us on Facebook, or call by phone at (904)284-6355.


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