Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about garden plants. You will find concise information on general gardening techniques as well as plant selection and care. For detailed information on specific plant pests and problems refer to our Common Garden Pests and Problems page.

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How do I use pesticides safely?

Pesticides used properly can be very helpful in controlling pests, but  pesticides used improperly can result in injured plants, pets, people, wildlife  and/or beneficial insects. For pesticide safety, follow these guidelines:

1. The best way to reduce risks posed by pesticides is to use  non-chemical control methods to control pest problems if possible. Remove  sources of pest food and water, and destroy pest shelters and breeding sites.

2. Have the pest problem properly diagnosed before deciding on the right  pest control method to use. If you decide to use pesticides, always read the  entire label first and follow the directions to the letter, including all  precautions and restrictions. Choose a pesticide specifically for the target  pest, and try to use the least toxic pesticide which will control the pest.

3. Follow the mixing and application rates listed on the label. Never use  more pesticide than directed on the label. Twice the amount will NOT do twice  the job!

4. Use protective measures when handling pesticides, as directed by the  label, such as wearing impermeable gloves, long-sleeved shirts, long pants,  etc. Keep children, pets, toys, food, etc. out of the area when spraying. Don't  spray outdoors on windy or rainy days, or on days when bees are active. Wash  hands and change clothes after spraying pesticides.

5. Never use measuring utensils or containers used in the kitchen when  mixing pesticides. Mix only the amount of pesticide needed. Store the unused  portion in its original container in a locked cabinet in a cool, dry area, out  of the reach of children.

6. If using pesticide on a food crop, check to see how long to wait  before harvesting the crop safely.

7. Don't buy more pesticide than necessary. If there's any leftover  pesticide, check with a local government entity to determine their pesticide disposal  program.

8. If you suspect that you or someone else has become ill due to  pesticide poisoning, contact the poison control center at 314-772-5200 Have the  pesticide container handy so the pesticide can be identified.