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EPA: Home gardening tips for spring

With the warming spring weather and the trees, bushes and flowers beginning to sprout again, it’s a popular time for Kiwis to spend time in their gardens for the season ahead.

As you start planning your garden, consider what chemicals you plan to use and how you plan to manage the risks from the chemicals around your home.

You can make your home and garden safer by choosing products that are as gentle as possible, and by disposing of old products you don’t use anymore, says Lizzie Wilson, spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) Safer Homes Programme.

“Home gardening and cleaning chemicals are safe to use when you follow the instructions on the label, which will also tell you if you need protection, like gloves, a facemask or safety glasses.

“When you first get out into the garden at the start of spring, this is a good time to take a stocktake of the existing chemicals around your home,” says Ms Wilson.

“Storing or stockpiling products you no longer need creates unnecessary risk around your home; it’s another easily preventable hazard around children.

“There’s guidance on our website about how people can safely dispose of old chemicals you no longer need. It’s very important people never pour unused product down the drain.”

“A common home gardening myth is that ‘natural’, ‘organic’, and ‘environmentally friendly’ products are safer to use. These substances can still be hazardous and the same precautions, need to be taken, like wearing gloves,” says Ms Wilson.

Here’s some spring gardening tips to stay safe around chemicals:
• Weed killers, pest sprays, fertilisers and other gardening products are considered hazardous substances. Take extra care when using, storing, and disposing of these to protect yourself, others and the environment.
• If you are spraying near or on edible plants, check the label to see how long you need to wait before the plant or vegetable can be harvested.
• If you are concerned about using garden chemicals, you can opt to wear gloves, and check the label to see if you need other protection, like a facemask or safety glasses.
• Keep products away from your eyes and face, and off your skin.
• Choose a calm day. The wind can blow products into your eyes and face, or onto other people.
• Spray carefully if you are working near streams or other water. Many garden products should not be used near water.
• Never pour leftover product down storm water drains.

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