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Opinion: Remember this when caring for your lawn

If you’re using lawn and garden pesticides and fertilizers, make sure you are using them properly.

More than your own property is at stake. They could impact neighboring properties, wetlands, watersheds and ultimately, our lakes and everything in them.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) points out that whether homeowners are applying these products themselves or hiring a professional to do the job, lawn and garden products must be handled with care. Here are some tips from the MDA:

When applying pesticides and fertilizers, homeowners should first read the product labels that specify how to use the product safely, effectively and legally. Applying pesticides, fertilizers or weed and feed products that contain both a pesticide and a fertilizer in a manner inconsistent with label directions is a violation of the law.

When hiring a professional lawn care provider to apply lawn care products, MDA advises homeowners to make sure these professionals are licensed. State law requires commercial applicators to be licensed by MDA. To obtain a license, applicators must demonstrate the necessary qualifications, knowledge and training to apply pesticides and fertilizers safely, effectively, and according to the law.

Whether you are doing the work yourself or hiring a professional, keep this advice in mind:

  • Buy only what you need and store unused product safely.
  • Do not apply chemicals if the weather conditions are not right. For example, high wind can cause products to drift off-site and potentially harm people or plants.
  • Sweep up any dry product from sidewalks or other hard surfaces and reapply it to the intended site.
  • Ask to see the professional applicator’s license before they start working. They must carry a valid license ID card.
  • Be wary of people who make promises that sound too good to be true, claim their products are completely safe or pressure you to commit to or sign a service contract.
  • Note warning signs/flags that are posted on a lawn near the sidewalk or street and at entry points on recreational property to alert people that a treatment was made to the area.
  • Review written application records and/or invoices provided by applicators to document their work, including products used and sites applied.

Consumers can call the Better Business Bureau at 1-800-646-6222 and ask for a customer satisfaction history about lawn care companies. For information about applicator licenses, call the MDA at (651) 201-6615. To report an unlicensed person making a pesticide or fertilizer application, file a complaint on the MDA website at — Alexandria Echo Press