There should be several important factors considered when buying any pesticide for applying to your lawn. Taking time to read pest control guides, pesticide labels, and knowing the size of your lawn prior to purchasing pesticides can be time well invested. Purchasing the wrong active ingredients, formulations or quantities can lead to several undesirable consequences including ineffective control, turf injury, application problems, or having excess or too little product to do the job. A few key questions that need to be considered are as follows:
What is the active ingredient? This refers to the common chemical name and not the trade name of the product. Pesticide recommendations are generally given in terms of the active chemical as there may be dozens of different brands or trade names and within these brands the percentage of active ingredient may be different. This then leads to another question that you need answered.
What is the use rate? You must know the percentage of active ingredient and the use rate to determine the amount you need. One brand may contain 25% active pesticide and requires 4 ounces of product per 1,000 sq. ft. of lawn. With an 8,000 sq. ft. lawn one quart of this product would be just enough. On the other hand another brand may only have 10% active ingredient so the use rate would need to be two and a half times that of the other brand and a half gallon of product would not be enough to cover your 8,000 sq. ft. lawn.
Is the product labeled for the intended use? Be certain the product you are purchasing controls the target pest and can be applied on your lawn by you. Some pesticides are very specific as to the pest they control or can only be applied to specific turf species. May pesticides have restrictions that do not allow them to be applied to home lawns are either they must only be applied by professional applicators.
How is the product formulated? Many active ingredients can be formulated as granules, wettable powders, liquid concentrates or in diluted ready-to-spray products. You need to determine if you have the necessary equipment to apply a particular type product. In addition you need to understand which formulation is the best for specific pests. For instance granular products are relatively easy to apply but they may not be effective for some lawn pest.
Be safe! The final and most important question is knowing what is required to keep everyone and everything safe. Always read the pesticide label carefully and entirely and follow all label directions regarding personal protection for mixing and applying the product and adhering to reentry periods. The label is the law.
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. email@example.com