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Controlling pests and weeds in your garden

​Avoiding pesticides

Pesticides contain chemicals that can harm people, wildlife and the environment. Spills pollute water and poison aquatic life.

There is a huge cost to removing pesticide residue from drinking water.

Before you buy them, consider whether they are really necessary:

  • does your lawn have to be free of daisies and dandelions?
  • can you live with a few weeds in your borders?

Gardens don’t have to be completely free of weeds to be healthy and enjoyable.

Natural ways to control pests in the garden

There are a few natural ways that can help you control pests in your garden without using pesticides. You could:

  • pick slugs and some other pests off plants by hand
  • pull up the weeds
  • use beer traps to catch slugs
  • cover young plants at night to protect them from pests
  • plan your plants to deter pests: plant marigolds near vegetables to keep greenfly and blackfly away, plant lavender near roses to ward off aphids

Encourage natural pest eaters. For example, ladybirds eat aphids which can damage your plants. You can encourage ladybirds by planting a small patch of nettles, or leave some plant debris around for them to hibernate in.

Using pesticides safely

If you need to use one it’s important to use, store and dispose of it correctly. Take advice from your garden centre or other retailer on the most suitable product for your needs.

When using pesticides:

  • always read the label and follow the instructions carefully
  • don’t try to make the pesticide stronger by using more than the instructions say – this could harm wildlife and the environment
  • always wash your hands once you’ve finished using the pesticide
  • store unused pesticides away from pets and children, making sure that the container is properly sealed
  • never pour unwanted pesticides down the drain – they will contaminate water sources and may harm wildlife  
  • use pesticides responsibly and as little as possible to make sure that the insects that are good for your garden aren't harmed
  • if you have patches of weeds on your lawn, use a lawn fertiliser and weed killer product on the patch, not over the whole lawn
  • if you just want to make your lawn greener use a lawn fertiliser only

Once you've finished with your pesticide, we can offer advice on how to dispose of it safely.

Training for professional pesticide users

The Department of the Environment is an approved National Pesticide Training Centre (NPTC) assessment centre that has joined the City and Guilds Group.

We can provide training and assessments for all professional pesticide users.

The 'Certificate of competence in the safe use of pesticides' is a national qualification specifically for those who use professional pesticide products. ​

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