Some folks subscribe to the theory “if it does not fit, get a bigger hammer.” Not so fast my fellow garden enthusiasts. Read the...

Some folks subscribe to the theory “if it does not fit, get a bigger hammer.” Not so fast my fellow garden enthusiasts. Read the directions – or in this case the label –when it comes to pesticides.

First, what is a pest? A pest is an animal, insect, disease, weed or fungus that you want to prevent, destroy, repel or mitigate. A pesticide is a substance or mixture of substances intended for that purpose.

Pesticide manufacturers have undergone rigorous testing to determine what amount of product is necessary for results. So like the theme in a previous column, do not guess. If the label states one ounce, that is what is required. The label is more than the label – it is the law.

A popular method of pest control is Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM is a multi-tiered approach to controlling pests which involves understanding the life cycle of the pest and its reaction to your landscape. IPM also involves a level of tolerance of the pest, pest prevention, as well as pest removal. An example of a life cycle is applying broad leaf herbicide to fully matured lespedeza (a common weed) in August. The lespedeza stem is now woody and not as susceptible as when it first emerged in early May. An example of prevention is keeping your plants healthy to avoid opportunistic disease.

Remember to protect yourself when applying pesticides. The most common exposure to pesticides is dermal or through the skin. Wear eye protection, rubber gloves, long pants, long sleeves, socks, and rubber-soled shoes. Immediately launder your clothes separately and take a shower.

Storing pesticides can be a bit cumbersome. Always read the label for storage instructions, but in general, store pesticides in an easily locked, well-vented area, away from direct sunlight, extreme heat and cold temperatures. It is a good idea to have enough space to separate herbicides from insecticides, fungicides and other pesticides. A possible solution to storage concerns is to buy what you need for only one growing season.

Oh, just so you know, everything I have written is for both synthetic and organic pesticides. Organic pesticide still involves applying a product, so read the label. Regardless of which type, less is better when it comes to pesticides. Contact Larry through Twitter @vngardener