Get Healthy Carson City: Use, dispose of lawn and garden chemicals safely

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

Even with the ongoing drought, many Northern Nevadans are still tending to lawns or gardens. The look of a lush lawn is pleasing to the eye, but that can come with a cost to the environment if pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers are used incorrectly.

The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension has these tips for using lawn and garden chemicals:

Accept that a certain level of weed and insect pests are part of the natural balance.

Read fertilizer, insecticide and herbicide labels carefully, and apply them only as directed. Remember, more is not better!

When possible, purchase only the amount of insecticide or herbicide you need for the job to avoid having to store or dispose of excess chemicals.

Store fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides in their original containers with labels. Keep them in an area that maintains the suggested temperature ranges, away from food and medication, and out of reach of kids and pets.

Test your soil before applying fertilizers. You may not need additional chemicals. Overfertilization is a common problem, and excess nutrients can leach into groundwater and contaminate rivers or lakes.

Consider using alternative methods. Organic fertilizers, such as bone meal, blood meal, organic mixes and compost, help build the soil. Pull weeds by hand. Integrated pest control, such as removing pests manually, trapping them, using biological controls, or creating a barrier between pests and plants, can be helpful in reducing the amount of insecticide used.

Keep our water safe from chemicals. Avoid using fertilizers or pesticides within 75 feet of waterways or wetlands or near cisterns and wellheads. Don’t apply insecticides, herbicides or fertilizers when rain is in the forecast to avoid runoff.

Keep fertilizers and pesticides off sidewalks and driveways, where they may be washed into storm drains. Your sidewalk doesn’t need fertilizer, anyway.

When you’ve finished caring for your lawn and garden, make sure you dispose of any remaining chemicals or the empty containers properly. Don’t put unused pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers directly in the garbage or pour them down the drain. Never burn chemical containers in the fireplace, wood stove, or burn barrel. To protect our precious water and prevent exposures for people and pets, always follow the label directions for disposal of unused pesticides.

Kelly Hale, Environmental Control Supervisor for Carson City Public Works, reminds residents that the Household Hazardous Waste Program can help safely dispose of lawn and garden chemicals, as well as oil-based paint, varnish and stain, and gasoline. The Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility provides Carson City residents with free hazardous waste disposal services every Thursday afternoon between 1:30 and 4:00 p.m. by appointment only. To schedule an appointment for the Thursday afternoon drop-off, call 775-283-7380 or 775-283-7390. With an appointment, Carson City residents can bring their household hazardous waste to the Carson City Landfill for proper disposal. The landfill is located at 3600 Flint Drive and is open Monday-Saturday, except holidays, 7:30 am to 5 pm.

For more information about using pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers safely, visit the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension website at To learn about other Health Department services, check out our website at or “like” our Facebook page at


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