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Welcome to the garden area of our website. This is where we offer information and advice to those using pesticides in their garden, allotment, or on their houseplants.

User habits surveys for 2007, 2010 and 2013 indicate that gardeners don't always use, store and dispose of pesticides correctly, although 2013 indicates some improvements in good practice. If you use pesticides, you are responsible for using these chemicals correctly and effectively. We must keep our gardens and allotments safe for children, pets and wildlife.

What are pesticides?

Whether you are trying to control the weeds growing on your garden path, the slugs eating the lettuces on your allotment or the black spot on your roses, you may consider using a chemical or spray that is classed as a pesticide. The term 'pesticide' covers a wide range of products, all of which are used to control plant 'pests'.

Pesticides for plant protection purposes include:

  • weedkillers (herbicides)
  • slug pellets (molluscicides)
  • fungicide sprays
  • animal repellents
  • hormone rooting powders
  • insecticides
  • plant growth regulators
  • lawn sand treatments.

In addition to pesticides for plant protection purposes, the Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) is also responsible for pesticides that are not used for plant protection (sometimes called biocides). These include:

  • products for algae and snail control in ponds (aquatic algaecides and molluscicides)
  • fly sprays and ant powder (insect killers and repellents)
  • fungicidal washes and patio cleaners (surface biocides)
  • rat and mouse killers (rodenticides)
  • cat repellents (vertebrate repellents).

You will find details of these products on the main Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website at the following link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/biocides/copr/approved.htm

More about pesticides...

Consider alternatives to pesticides

Is it necessary to use a pesticide?

Snail on a leafBefore you buy or use any pesticide, ask yourself whether it is really necessary to control the pest, disease or weed and whether there is an alternative to traditional chemical use.

Organic gardening methods are one way that you can reduce pesticide use and get nature to help control any pests or diseases. For example, do one or two dandelions or daisies in the lawn mean that the whole lawn needs treatment? Could you remove problem weeds by using a knife or garden fork instead? Why not remove slugs or snails when they come out at night, or use a physical barrier to discourage them?

The following websites may be helpful in providing information on alternative methods to pesticides and encouraging nature to help control the problem:

Which pesticides can I use in my garden?

Before you buy any more pesticide, do you already have some that you can use up?

  • If yes, read the label and check if the product will control the problem you have.
  • Then use our garden database to check whether your stored pesticides can still be legally used.
  • If the product is not listed on the database it is probably no longer authorised and so will be illegal to use. In this case you will need to dispose of the pesticide safely.

Choosing and buying a pesticide

If you need to buy some pesticide you can check the garden database for a list of products that are authorised for use on particular plants or areas in the garden. Please note that the database does not give details of the pest, weed or disease that each pesticide controls.

However, this detail can be obtain from the product label, or you can usually get advice from garden centres, DIY shops, pesticide companies (a list of marketing companies is available on the database), gardening organisations, or you can try www.garden-care.org.uk.

Never buy more than you will need for one year.

You may end up with pesticide that you will have to dispose of if the product is withdrawn and becomes illegal to use.

Do not buy pesticides from the internet or when abroad until you have checked the garden database that they are legal to use in the UK.

If they are not authorised in the UK they may not have been assessed for safety to humans or the environment. You could face prosecution for illegal use and storage of such pesticides.

'Amateur' and 'Professional' use

Most of the pesticides that you can use in the home, garden or allotment are approved for amateur use. This means that you do not need specific training to use these products. The label will be worded so that the instructions are easy to follow, to ensure that the product is used safely. These products are most likely to be found in your local garden centre, DIY store or supermarket.

Many other pesticides, such as those used on farms, or in public areas are approved for use in much larger commercial situations. The labels of these ‘professional’ products can be more complicated, and by law must only be used by those who have had the appropriate training. Professional products should never be used by the untrained amateur gardener. Someone with the right training can use a professional product in the home, garden or allotment so long as the intended use appears on the label.

Withdrawn garden pesticides

Each year, manufacturers may withdraw some pesticide products used by gardeners for a variety of commercial reasons.

Pesticides may also be withdrawn as a result of review by the European Community (EC). More on the reasons for withdrawn pesticides...

When a pesticide is withdrawn, the Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) allows a period of time for the product to be used up safely until a specific expiry date, after which it cannot legally be used. You can check the garden database for expiry dates of products.

However, withdrawn products are often replaced by new ones. In most cases there will be other pesticides available to control a particular problem. Garden centres, DIY shops, or pesticide companies can provide information or advice about alternative or replacement pesticide products or you can try www.garden-care.org.uk.

Pesticides would only be 'banned' if there were serious safety reasons. This rarely occurs now due to the stringent data requirements for pesticides.

How do I use a pesticide?

Always use pesticides as instructed on the label.

Pink roseThe label will explain how to use the product safely and any special precautions you need to take. For example, you may need to keep children and pets out of treated areas, or you may need to wait for a certain length of time before eating the fruit or vegetables you have treated.

  • Always read the label before you buy the product, and again before you use it.
  • Always follow the instructions carefully.
  • Where appropriate, dilute the product with water and apply it evenly.

Never make up more than you will need on that day.

  • Do not be tempted to add extra pesticide/product to make it stronger – this isn’t necessary and could even damage the plant or lawn that you are treating.
  • For weedkillers that you use on lawns, it is particularly important to make sure that you apply the product evenly – too much can damage or even kill the lawn!
  • Apply slug pellets thinly to avoid the risk of poisoning wildlife and pets, particularly dogs.

When the job is finished, always wash your hands before you do anything else.

More on the product label...

Storing pesticides

Always store pesticides in their original containers. This is for safety reasons and is a legal requirement.

  • After you have used a pesticide, make sure that the packaging is tightly closed or sealed to avoid spillage.
  • Store pesticides in a safe place, out of reach of children and pets.
  • Take particular care to store slug pellets safely to avoid accidental poisoning of children and pets – particularly dogs.
  • Garden sheds and greenhouses are not ideal for storing pesticides as they can get very hot in summer or cold in winter. Pesticide products are best stored at an even temperature.
  • If you store it carefully, any remaining pesticide will be effective for some years to come. You can check whether it is still legal to use by visiting our garden database.

Never store diluted pesticides.

Concentrate pesticides that have been diluted and stored may not work as well when you next use them. It is also illegal to store pesticides that are unlabelled and not in their original container for safety reasons. Remember to only dilute enough for that day's use.

Disposing of pesticides

Never pour pesticides down the drain, toilet or sink.

  • Whether you've diluted it or not, never pour pesticides down a drain or any other water drainage system (e.g. sink or toilet) because of the risk of contaminating water and harming wildlife. You could face prosecution.
  • Empty concentrate containers - concentrate pesticide products (i.e. requiring dilution before use) should be rinsed three times adding the washings to the final spray solution. The empty container must then be placed in the normal household waste.
  • Empty Ready-to-Use containers - recent research has recommended that empty plastic pesticide containers of Ready-to-Use products (e.g. trigger sprays and other products that do not require dilution) can be disposed of directly into your household recycling waste. Some labels may still contain instructions to dispose of to the normal household waste, but labels of suitable products will change, by 31 December 2015, to instruct disposal of the empty container to recycling.
  • Other empty pesticide containers - e.g. bags and cardboard boxes can also be disposed of in your household waste.
  • Always check the label for advice on disposal of the product or empty container.

Do not burn any pesticide packaging.

More on disposing of pesticides...

Other Issues

Manure contaminated by aminopyralid (a herbicide/weedkiller) has been associated with damage to plants. We don't consider this to be a concern for consumers. A postcard has been issued providing useful information which you can download or request copies. For background information on this issue see Regulatory Updates 32/2009, 30/2008 , 23/2008, 15/2008 and 18/2008.

Contacting us

Please contact us using the details on our Contact Details Page

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