The advent of modern pesticides has meant that even home gardeners can achieve pristine landscaping and gorgeous, green lawns with chemical management. But using pesticides also has its drawbacks. Before you decide to use pesticides in your yard, be aware of the downsides.
1. Many Are Non-Specific
Many pesticides for use in the residential home and garden setting are non-specific—meaning they work on the bugs you want to kill and the bugs you don’t want to kill. For instance, if you’re having a problem with aphids, a non-specific pesticide won’t just kill the aphids; it will kill everything that comes into contact with the pesticide-treated plant. That means those all-important pollinators like bees and butterflies are at risk as well.
2. Hazardous To Pets
There’s a window of time after pesticide application when you must stay off your lawn, to avoid coming into contact with those hazardous chemicals. Pets are doubly at risk, as they can’t necessarily be trusted not to chew on treated grass, or lick their coats, which may have had toxic chemicals transferred to them by contact.
3. Timing Is Tricky
The effectiveness of many pesticides is closely related to the timing of its application. Spray at the wrong time and you risk incurring negative side effects. For instance, you won’t have any success in battling aphids and scale on fruit trees unless you spray in the late winter or early spring. And if you spray plants with insecticide when blooms are open, you risk killing important pollinators like bees and consequently reducing your yield.
4. Must Use Protection
Most pesticides, even the ones rated for residential use, can cause allergic reactions or damage if they come into contact with your unprotected skin, nose, eyes, or mouth. When working with pesticides, cover your body fully, wear gloves, and use breathing protection. If you can’t take the proper precautions when applying pesticides, you’re better off not using them.
5. Clean Up Issues
Cleaning up after pesticide application requires special care. You need to wash any non-absorbent clothing in hot soapy water, and all equipment needs to be thoroughly washed and rinsed. And don’t dispose of pesticides by pouring them down the drain—they can end up in the water supply, where they pose health risks.
6. Water Run Off
Consistent use of pesticides can lead to toxins entering rivers and streams through water run-off. Think about your neighborhood and local environment before you spray to prevent unintentionally harming the creatures in the water ecosystems near where you live. It’s the right thing to do and may provide indirect benefits for your garden.