Weed killer: 5 Things to ask a gardener before they use it

5 Things to ask a gardener before they use weed killer in your garden

Pesticide Spraying I’m guessing that most of you have weeds in various parts of your garden – be it the lawn, driveway, paths or in the flower beds. Whilst it may be therapeutic to do weeding by hand, in many instances it is not practical or cost effective to do so, for example large areas of weeds on a driveway or fine weeds in lawns. This is when you turn to using a weed killer to do the job for you.

If you decide to apply the weed killer yourself then this article is not for you. However if you decide to get someone in to do the job then use this list as a guide together your own gut instinct about the person you are hiring. If you have any doubt then look for another gardener.

Whilst the term “weed killer” is used in this article – you can substitute it for any other chemical that you may on occasion use in your garden: which come under the term “pesticide”: this would include herbicide (the technical name for weedkiller), fungicide or insecticide. Likewise lawn treatments such as “feed and weed” would also be classed as a pesticide.

The 5 things to ask your gardener before they use weed killer:

  1. Are they licenced
  2. Are they insured
  3. What product will they use
  4. Can they provide you any safety information
  5. What precautions are needed

To help you further I shall breakdown these a bit more:

Are they licenced to use weed killer

Regardless of whether the weed killer is a professional product or one which is available to homeowners, say at garden centres, the gardener must hold a valid pesticide licence. If they don’t then they are breaking the law. If they mention “grandfather rights” then these end on the 26th November 2015 – after which they need to be licenced.

For domestic situations you will be looking for a pesticide licence which includes as a minimum both units PA1 & PA6. PA1 by itself is not enough and must be accompanied by PA6 which means they can use a pedestrian broadcast spreader and knapsack (back mounted) sprayer.

Below are photos of the front and back of a pesticide licence photo ID card

Pesticide Licence FrontPesticide Licence back

Individuals are licenced, not the company. So only the person named on the licence can spray the weed killer: no one else can without being licenced themselves.

Are they insured to use weed killer

Ask if they have public liability insurance and whether they have pollution liability cover too. Bottom line, does their insurance cover them for using weed killer? If they are unsure then ask that they check and confirm back to you.

What weed killer will they use

So by now the gardener has confirmed to you that they are licenced and insured to use weed killer in your garden, but you want to know more about the weed killer itself. If they are recommending a particular product then they should be able to answer these questions straight away or after checking the product label.


Example questions to ask your gardener about weed killer before using it:

  • Name of the product they intend to use
  • What type of product is it and how does it work
  • Product form – is it a applied as a powder or liquid
  • How is it applied
  • How much will they use
  • Recommended timing for applying the chemical – which could either be a range of months or a particular growth stage in the weed
  • Is it suitable for the type of surface it is being used on
  • Time for it to work – usually in weeks
  • How long do you need to wait before you can replant the area
  • Will retreatment is needed, if so when
  • Where will it be used in your garden

Can they provide you the safety information for using the weed killer

People are naturally concerned about the using of chemicals in their home and the same applies to its use in the garden.

Manufacturers of weed killer provide information in the form of a “product label” and “material safety data sheet” for every product to help with its correct and safe use. The gardener should reference these documents in order to protect you, your family, neighbours, pets, wildlife and the environment. If concerned then ask to see a copy of the product label, which should be readily available.

What precautions will be put in place

Ask what precautions the gardener will take in order to ensure the work is done safely: both before, during and following the application of the weed killer.

pesticide spraying hazard sign

Typical questions to ask your gardener about precautions when using weed killer:

  • What safety equipment will they wear
  • Does the weather affect the application – generally it needs to be dry for 24 hours following application, so if rain is forecast then weed killer needs to be delayed
  • How will they prevent others accessing the area whilst its being treated – for example will they use barriers, barrier tape and put up warning signs
  • How soon after applying the weed killer can people and pets return
  • How will they protect any water (ponds, streams or rivers)
  • How will they protect other plants
  • What would they do in the event of a spillage
  • Where will they dispose of any tank washings

Hope this guide has proved useful and should you have any questions then please ask and I will try to respond.