Wednesday, July 30, 2008

When What You Don't Know Surprises You

People usually do well at what they enjoy. For example, if you enjoy knitting, you will most likely become a better knitter over time. If you enjoy drinking, chances are you will become better at making cocktails over time. It really isn't rocket science.

So, it is no wonder that people stink at reading chemical labels. Trying to decipher the tiny print, mixing instructions, and extensive list of cautions is as tedious as Ben Stein telling a bed time story! By the time the label is read, who feels like spraying?

This frustration is the reason that many people seem to give up reading chemical labels all together, ( I know. I know. You forgot your reading glasses). People have become comfortable with taking the recommendations of others. They have been sweet-talked by popular brand names, and this casual approach to chemical usage has reaching effects of which consumers may be unaware.

Take, for example, a product that says "Joe's Rose Spray." If Joe has a big line of chemicals, that makes a person feel like they are in good hands. "Surely Joe knows what to put on my roses." Ultimately, without reading the label, though, one doesn't know whether the product is an insecticide, a systemic insecticide, a fungicide, a systemic fungicide, or even a fertilizer. Yet, everyday people show up asking for a chemical by name, and they know nothing about its purpose.

Homeowners should take full responsibility for what is put on their yards by simply taking note of active ingredients in the products they use. This information is more useful in an online quest for information than a brand name. Most active ingredients are marketed under several brands.

Keep in mind that the application of chemicals to a landscape is meant to solve a problem. Whether it is aphids on plants, fleas in the yard, or spider mites on a shrub, the homeowner's goal should always be to target their specific problem. If the solution solves their problem, but causes ten others, is it really the best choice?

Beyond Pesticides

Sevin Dust/Carbaryl
Beneficial Nematodes
Create A Wildlife Habitat
Mosquitoes In The News


Jesse said...

Very interesting article... Lord knows that I am guilty of not reading the chemical labels of the sprays I use.

Are you planning on following up on this subject with some more articles? I would love to see some advice regarding chemicals and common applications.

Hester and Zipperer said...

I think chemical education is very important. We strive to do our best at the store, but I am also addressing this issue in my next column for Savannah Morning News. (PLUG, PLUG, PLUG) It comes out on Friday, August 22nd. It's called Thicket to Paradise, and it's in the Accent section.

Thanks for your comment! -Christine