Let’s talk about the good, the bad and the scary of lawn and garden chemicals. Anyone is allowed to use them. You can buy them practically anywhere. They can sicken or kill if used incorrectly. Most everyone uses them at some time or another. All this makes a volatile combination. We begin to think of them as common and tend to forget how dangerous they actually can be.
If used or stored properly, pesticides (bug sprays), fungicides, herbicides (weed killers), animal repellents (deer repellent, cat repellent etc), rodent killers (rat poison) and fertilizers can all be potentially useful. Used improperly, any of these chemicals can be extremely dangerous.
These are the worst 10 chemicals to keep in the garden shed:
1. Top of the list for the worst chemical you should keep in your garden shed is any chemical that is not in its
original container and is unlabeled. You need to know what you have in order to use and store properly.
Call your local municipality and follow their policy for disposing of hazardous substances. Get that
dangerous substance out of your shed, away from your family and away from other chemicals to prevent a
possibly serious problem. The rule: Always know what you have and how to use it properly.
2. Any product that has been in storage too long. If there is no expiration date listed on the label, here is a general guideline to follow. fertilizers: 2 seasons, if stored properly pesticides: very volatile and are required to have a “best before” date in Australia and the U.S. Generally, they should be discarded if older than 2 years herbicide concentrates: 2 to 5 years, if unmixed herbicide pre-mix: generally up to 4 years If it’s old, get rid of it.
3. Dry chemicals that have gotten wet or damp: If your fertilizer has gotten clumpy or syrupy it’s time to
dispose of it. Dampness can change composition and effectiveness.
4. Pesticides that have gotten too hot: Most pesticides have warnings about excess heat. If you have a shed, metal is especially bad, that gets very hot, definitely do not store your pesticides there. If you suspect the product has gotten too hot, don’t use it. Dispose of it properly and soon.
5. Herbicides that have been exposed to too much heat: Same as the pesticides, many herbicides can’t take
6. Liquid chemicals that have been frozen: At best, they have lost effectiveness. At worst, the chemical
composition has changed. Why take the chance on doing harm to yourself or the environment to use
something that probably isn’t going to work anyway.
7. Flammable liquids near a combustible: Foggers and bug bombs are mostly all flammable and should be
stored with care. Take a look around your shed. You may be surprised how many of the products you’re
keeping there are combustible or flammable.
8. Crystallized liquid concentrates: These won’t mix as they should and are useless.
9. Anything you don’t have the room for: Lawn and garden chemicals need space. You should never store one
on top of another and many should not be kept near fertilizer. If your shed is not well ventilated, don’t even
consider using it to store your garden chemicals.
10. Any chemical that is within reach of a child or pet is too dangerous to keep in its present location. This one should go without saying, but there continue to be accidents year after year. Garden chemicals are poison and should never be used around pets and children. Always take the utmost care to protect yourself, as well.
Basically, your shed may not be the optimal place to store lawn and garden chemicals. The temperature extremes are bad for many liquids and concentrates. The dampness may affect powders, crystals and fertilizers. It may not be secure enough to keep children and animals out. The lack of ventilation may cause one chemical to affect another in a way that could be hazardous for you or the environment.
Be smart with your lawn and garden chemicals. Always use according to directions, protect your skin and clothing and definitely keep away from children and animals. Some very important things to keep in mind are, no eating, drinking or smoking while working with them. Always remember, never touch a child, pet, food or your face until you’ve washed thoroughly and changed your clothing.
Use only what you need. If you have a chemical left over, do not use it just to use it up. Store or dispose of it properly.
Many times there are natural alternatives to hazardous chemicals. There is no harm in checking out the less toxic alternative first. Worst case, it doesn’t work for you and you need to try something different, best case, you’ve protected yourself, your family, your home and the environment from something potentially dangerous.