Pesticde, Herbicide license?

vicsgardeningJuly 19, 2011

I have several clients who's garden beds I maintain. Others that I do one-off work for.

This is a question for other individual professional gardeners or for estate gardeners:

What do you do when you need to use Roundup (canada thistles anyone? lol) OR Pesticides/fungicides on perennials, shrubs and trees?

I'm talking about general use products that are available from Home Depot etc.

How do you handle this - if you don't have a pesticide/herbicide license? How do other professional Gardeners handle this? Are most of you licensed? How does the homeowner react when you can't spray roundup on say their gravel weeds or you can't spray their roses for slugs or aphids. Or their shrubs for spider mites? etc etc etc.Or do you apply the products anyway and to heck with the license requirements?

Also what if say a shrub has a lot of browning leaves (I get these questions a lot) - do the homeowners expect you to 'save' the shrub and diagnose the problem. There are so many possible causes of plant/shrub problems and it could also be a combination of problems...I get nervous worrying that I might not be RIGHT. I have ilex shrubs right now which could be dying off due to overwatering, underwatering, spider mites or..who knows what else. What if I'm wrong and recommend the wrong remedy?

I was thinking if the homeowners want guarantees on the diagnosis and remedy - then they'd have to get a consultation from a plant health care specialist who will guarantee their work and perhaps replace the shrub/tree if they don't cure it?? But this kind of guarantee will come at a much higher hourly rate than mine.

So just having a crisis of confidence at the moment and wondering how much should my clients should reasonably expect from me??

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Licensing laws vary from state to state. Check with your own state's agricultural commission OR your local extension office for the information you need. It is essential that you follow both the Federal laws AND your state's laws. The penalties can be substantial. Some state requirements are strict while others pretty darned lax.

The ability to diagnose plant problems accurately comes with lots of experience, training, and education. One learns to look at and evaluate site condition for abiotic causes as well as studying up on the usual insect, disease, or other biotic culprits.

If you don't have the knowledge of how to diagnose plant symptoms, then you need to get some education. Many community colleges have horticulture classes, and they are often filled with adult students just like you who want and need to improve their job skills.

It's good that you doubt yourself. There's nothing more 'dangerous' than a gardener with pruners in one hand and a sprayer filled with chemicals in the other, but who doesn't know an azalea from a holly, or a ladybug from an aphid. And you are SO right in recognizing that a particular plant symptom such as leaf browning can be caused by several different factors. It takes a good diagnostician to figure out the problem with certainty.

Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 4:32PM
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1st I am a fairly smart man. Poor enough to not afford books in collage and still getting a 3.8 grade. Farmed since big enough to push the clutch, and a 15 year master mechanic on marine engines. I have a pestiside lience (no I never could spell)I have talked a person thru getting a boat running 20 miles off shore 2000 miles away. When it comes to plants I think you need training close to dr. status . Insurance might be less but the range of problems are pretty close. The more I learn the less I know I know. Tell them it is your best guess but remind them it is only a guess, put it in writing and have them sign it. Wife is a lawyer and made me include the last line. LOL

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 4:27PM
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I agree with rhizo - licensing requirements differ from state to state but in most cases, no license is needed to apply an OTC general use pesticide (like RoundUp) at the owner's/client's request. And there are never any guarantees :-))

As to being able to diagnose plant problems, that is often a case of many years of experience combined with proper training. Many local extension offices can diagnose plant issues and recommend treatment or they have access/referrals to plant pathologists that can make the ID accurately. And the extension offices provide these services for free (although plants sent to a pathologist for diagnosis generally will have a fee associated with them). Some better retail garden centers will also have certified horticulturists on staff who have sufficient training and experience to diagnose many plant problems and offer recommended treatment. I get as many professional gardeners/landscapers in with plant questions and disease/pest issues as I do home gardeners!! No one is expected to know everything :-)

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 8:47PM
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