A common question we receive is on the safety of pets and children after the application of lawn care and treatment products, including fertilising and spraying.
We've put together the below information to help you keep your loved ones safe!
The good news is that New Zealand has very good regulatory labeling on garden care products. It is peace of mind that products have gone through a rigorous testing process and any pack claims need trial data to support the claims. Most herbicides are considered safe for home gardeners as it is for low volume use only.
Spraying for weeds
The most common herbicide home gardeners use is glyphosate, a common non-selective herbicide that controls weeds and grasses. Other weed control products include selective herbicides which are used to control broadleaf weeds in lawns such as dicamba, 2,4,D, and MCPA - these are the active ingredients in most common broadleaf weed control products. Once these sprays are dry it is safe for pets and children to re-enter. It's best to spray on a day where the weather is good with little wind, so that the spray dries quickly.
There are also natural herbicides with active ingredients like acetic acid. Although plant based and derived from organic plant material, acetic acid goes through a fermentation process where it becomes an acid similar in nature to vinegar, and so can be corrosive and potentially burn animals paws or children’s feet. Therefore care needs to be taken and the lawn can only be re-entered once the spray is dry.
Care also needs to be taken when applying lawn fertilisers to areas where pets and children are present. This isn't because lawn fertilisers are harmful to pets, but due to the high iron content they contain for the instant green up of lawns. When wet, these fertilisers will stain porous surfaces such as wooden decks, pavers and concrete if walked on. It is safe for pets (including rabbits and guinea pigs) and children to re-enter once the treated area is dry.
There is an exception when treating lawns with fertilisers. Tui LawnForce Weedkill is a 2 in 1 slow release lawn fertiliser and selective herbicide. Pets and children need to be kept off treated areas for at least 24 hours after application and can't enter until the treated area is dry. It is best to keep rabbits and guinea pigs off these treated areas for at least a week.
tips when using products around pets and children
- Always follow pack instructions and application rates.
- Keep pets and children off all treated areas until it is thoroughly dry. This will depend upon the weather conditions, and so will vary. 24 hours is always a safe amount of time.
- Always mix concentrates to the recommended dilution rate and don’t leave opened bottles in areas where pets and children could knock them over.
- Ready to use products can be a safer option around pets and children as they are already diluted and no mixing is required.
- If using selective herbicides and combination weedkill and fertiliser products, keep pets and children off the at least 24 hours until dry, this will vary depending upon the weather.
- Spray or treat areas on a fine day so the area dries out quickly to speed up re-entry.
- If in doubt, keep them out.