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Canadians take pride in having attractive lawns. Many Canadians use lawn care products to maintain their lawns. Pesticide use for lawn care has become an issue in many communities across Canada, due to an increased awareness of the potential impact that human activities can have on our shared environment.
In this section, you will find information on how to establish a new lawn or maintain an existing one, how to prevent and identify pest problems, and how to apply Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques. This section also details the standards for education and training on pesticides that retailers, lawn care and landscape professionals must follow to ensure that pesticides are sold and used safely in Canada.
Between 2001 and 2006, Health Canada worked in partnership with provincial and territorial governments to deliver the Healthy Lawns Strategy for Urban Pesticide Risk Reduction. The aim of this Strategy is to help Canadians reduce their reliance on pesticides for lawn care. The Strategy emphasizes Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles, such as pest prevention, use of reduced risk products and the application of pesticides only when necessary.
Several fact sheets were developed under the Healthy Lawns Strategy to help Canadians grow and maintain a healthy lawn:
Healthy Lawn tips were also developed that summarize the key steps towards having a healthy lawn.
For more information on urban pest management and pesticide regulation in Canada, please contact the Pest Management Information Service.
Fact sheets and other documents about pest control and pesticides can be found in the Reports & Publications section.
A green and healthy lawn is relatively easy to achieve with a bit of work. A healthy lawn can be achieved by using these maintenance practices:
Whether you hire a professional or care for a lawn by yourself, having a healthy lawn and reducing reliance on pesticides requires decisions. Begin by asking:
An effective way to reduce reliance on pesticides is through the use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM puts the emphasis on prevention, looks at all available information and considers all the management options. This is done before deciding on the most effective, economical and environmentally friendly means of managing a pest problem.
Elements of IPM programs are:
Prevent pest problems from occurring by:
Check your lawn regularly.
Make sure pest problems are correctly identified.
Check for pest damage and decide whether action is necessary.
Recurring pest problems are often a sign that lawn care practices need to change.
Evaluation of the results and adjustment to lawn care practices as needed.
The label specifies the correct use of the product so that it poses no health or environmental concerns. The label is a legal document that must be followed.
When using pesticides:
If you need to use a pesticide, only apply it when and where the pest is present.
Effective pest management doesn't have to involve pesticide use.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an approach to planning and managing that uses a combination of methods to reduce pest populations to acceptable levels.
A pest is any animal, plant or other organism that is directly or indirectly, noxious, troublesome or can cause injury.
IPM includes biological and cultural controls, forecasting, sampling, and establishing thresholds for pests to define when corrective action is necessary.
IPM strategies are tailored to the needs and requirements of the local situation. They involve using materials and methods that are:
IPM emphasizes pest prevention, the use of reduced risk products, and the application of pesticides only when necessary.
To use IPM properly, you first need to correctly identify the pest and understand its life cycle:
As a pesticide applicator or vendor, you have opportunities to inform the public about Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles. Consider the following pest management opportunities:
The public's concern about pesticide use in urban areas emphasizes the need to help homeowners make informed decisions about their lawn care. As a lawn care professional, your expertise is valued in helping them make these decisions. By offering alternatives and reduced-pesticide-use lawn care programs, you can help alleviate homeowners' concerns.
Responsibility for the care of lawns and turf around schools in Canada varies widely. Responsibility may lie with the local school board, the municipality, regional government, or provincial authorities
An IPM program can help to maintain healthy turf on school grounds and playing fields. This helps lessen the potential for sports-related injuries to children, while reducing the need for pesticide use.
Superintendents will sometimes face concerns from their patrons about pesticide use. Demonstrating proper use and application of the correct pesticide will help to address these concerns.
An awareness of the principles of IPM will help ensure that consumers of household-use pesticides choose the right product and make responsible pest management decisions.
Pesticide applicators and vendors must be certified to sell or apply pesticides in Canada. Certification programs are the responsibility of the provincial and territorial governments and are based on the Standard for Pesticide Education, Training and Certification in Canada.
The Federal Provincial Territorial Working Group on Pesticide Education Training and Certification has prepared modules that explain how to properly apply pesticides. The Applicator Core module contains information relevant for all pesticide applicators. The Landscape module contains information specific to lawn care.
If you must use a pesticide, knowing which ones can be used is an important step. To learn more about these, please refer to:
The Standard for Pesticide Education, Training and Certification in Canada (known as the National Standard) outlines the knowledge requirements for the training and certification of pesticide vendors. The National Standard was adopted by all provinces in 1995. Certification of pesticide applicators, vendors and dispensers is a provincial responsibility, and some have also implemented training and certification programs for store employees who sell household pesticides.
For more information:
The term "cosmetic use" has been frequently associated with the application of lawn care pesticides. This term implies that pesticides are being used for aesthetic purposes only.
Health Canada registers only those products that provide effective management of pest problems and that can be used safely when label directions are followed.
General information on the health evaluations, environmental risk assessments and value assessments Health Canada conducts on proposed pesticide products is available in the Fact Sheet on the Pest Management Regulatory Agency.
Pesticides are used to control, destroy, attract or repel any animal, plant or other organism that is directly or indirectly, noxious, troublesome or can cause injury.
Pesticides are also used to manage pests that can interfere with the health of an animal, plant or other organism.
Pesticides differ from many other substances that enter the environment in that they are not the by-products of a process, but are released intentionally for a specific purpose.
The text on the label of a pesticide shows you how to use the product safely.
The presence of a few weeds or insect pests in healthy lawns may not be cause for concern. If only a few weeds are present, removing them manually will ensure these plants will not spread further.
Keep an eye on pest problems and get more information if necessary before deciding on next steps. Regular inspection of your lawn makes it possible to detect pests and other problems early. Regular inspections will also help you decide if treatment is needed and when to apply appropriate treatments.
There are several ways to monitor weeds to determine if treatment is needed. Here are three methods for counting weeds to determine the percentage of weed cover on turf. Once you choose a method, this same method should be used each time.
Walk the centre of sports fields from goalpost to goalpost and estimate the percent of weed cover in a 10 centimetre square (10cm2) area at every second step.
Some provinces set treatment thresholds for the maintenance of lawns and turf. Check with your province to learn the treatment threshold that would apply to your lawn.
Health Canada's Pest Notes provide information on how to identify commonly-occurring pests. The Common Lawn Problems fact sheet provides information on how to identify diseases and pest problems in your lawn. Your local garden centre or provincial agriculture ministry may be able to help you in identifying a pest. You can also access good sources of information on the Internet or in reference books.
To manage the risks associated with pesticide use, Health Canada evaluates the health and environmental impacts and value of proposed pesticides before they are registered. Health Canada also monitors the market place for compliance with the Pest Control Products Act and Regulations, and promotes the safe use of pesticides.
If Health Canada is concerned about the suspected misuse of any pest control product, inspectors across the country are employed to verify compliance with the Pest Control Products Act. Concerns about the risks these products may pose to people, pets, and the environment should be directed to Health Canada's Pest Management Information Service.
The Health Canada Fact Sheet on the Regulation of Pesticides in Canada explains the responsibilities of the different levels of government. The provinces manage the risks associated with the sale, use, storage, transportation, and disposal of pesticides through education, licensing, and monitoring for compliance. Municipalities are responsible for enforcing municipal by-laws and restrictions.
If a poisoning is suspected, contact your local Poison Control Centre.