The Well-Stocked Hardware Store

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A Well-Stocked Hardware Store

To assist local garden centers and hardware stores in transitioning their customers to holistic lawn care practices, Beyond Pesticides has crafted the “Well-Stocked Hardware Store,” which provides the products and tools necessary to support a move to healthy, organic landscapes. This guide fits in with Beyond Pesticides’ Model Pesticide Policy and Implementation Plan for Communities, but can be used independently for hardware stores looking to encourage the use of products and practices that protect the health of their customers, community, and the wider environment.

Weed and Pest Management:

Even with a focus on cultural practices that build soil and natural systems, pest problems can arise, particularly when customers are in the transition process from chemical-dependent to organic lawn

Least-Toxic: The use of least-toxic pesticides should only be considered after cultural, mechanical, and biological controls have been attempted and proven ineffective. Least-toxic pesticides are, generally, those that have been reviewed by the National Organic Standards Board for their health and environmental impact, and compatability with an organic system. More and more of these products continue to come to market with effectiveness increasing rapidly. Remember, even with least-toxic pesticides, the label is the law, and customers should be instructed on proper use.


Powdered Insecticides: Diatomaceous earth and silica gels provide an excellent alternative to toxic insecticides for lawn and garden use. They are effective against fleas, ticks, and beetles with a light coating on the lawn. Be sure to provide customers with food-grade diatomacrous earth, and make certain it does not contain any added and unnecessary synthetic pesticides. The product will wash away after a rain event. Earthworks Health sells food-grade diatomaceous earth at wholesale prices. Boric acid, although generally used indoors, are available in numerous forms, including dusts, liquids, granules, pellets, tablets, wettable powders, rods, or baits. Carry a wide range of products for indoor, as well as home and garden use.

Insecticidal Soaps: These products use potassium salts of fatty acids to suffocate and kill insects that come into direct contact with the spray. Urge care to avoid spraying these contact killers when beneficial insects, such as bees and butterflies, are in the area. Safer Brand carries a wide variety of insecticidal soaps.

Neem Oil and other Botanicals: Concentrated neem oil, known as azadirachtin, has become a popular go-to for least toxic control of problem pests. It works by interrupting a pest's growth and depressing its feeding, leading to starvation. The product controls a wide variety of insects, and posseses a very low toxicity to humans, but its impact to beneficials remains murky. PBI Gordon produces Azatrol, General Hydroponics produces AzaMax, and Safer Brand carries some neem products. Other botanical products are generally derived from essential oils, and work by desiccating insects, drying out their waxy outer layer. Ecosmart carries a variety of insect killers with active ingredients such as rosemary, peppermint, thyme, and clove oil.

Pheromones: These products often go hand-in-hand with insect traps. A number of products are on the market to either attract or repel pests or beneficial insects to one's landscape. Victor Pest and Seabright Laboratories produce a number of traps, however stores may want to conduct their own investigation to match supplies with local pest populations.

Fungicides: Active ingredients in organic fungicides are generally quite similar to those in insecticides. In fact, many organic fungicides, such as Monteray's 70% Neem Oil and Safer 3 in 1 Spray, are also marketed as insecticides. Bright Organics produces a fungicide that uses cinnamon and clove oil to address fungus problems. Greencure is an organic approved fungicide which contains potassium bicarbonate. Gowan carries an organic fungicide called M-PEDE which contains potassium salts of fatty acids and is registered to control powdery mildew.

Herbicides: Least toxic herbicides are best used on young weeds, as larger plants may take more than one pass to kill. They are contact killers, so the entire plant must be sprayed, and these products are usually most effective when sprayed on a bright day. As of now, these pesticides are non-selective, meaning that they have the potential to burn grass if improperly applied.

Herbicidal Soaps: New herbicides containing some form of fatty acids are entering the market quickly. These herbicides work by penetrating the waxy coating of plant leaves to dry them out. BioSafe System's AXXE contains ammonium nananoate. Gowan carries an herbicide called Scythe, which contains the active ingredient pelargonic acid. Final-San-O, produced by Neudorff North America, is organic approved and effective in colder weather. Safer Brand also produces a line of herbicides with potassium salts of fatty acids. EcoSmart produces a weed and grass killer that is 25(b) exempt from federal pesticide registration and uses sodium lauryl sulfate, 2-phenethyl propionate, and essential oils.

Botanicals: Botanical herbicides also represent a growth market as residents throughout the United States seek out an alternative to Roundup and 2,4-D. Avenger Organics Weed Killer is an herbicide that uses concentrated citrus oil in the form of d-limonene to strip the waxy outer layer of plants and dry them out. Soiltech produces Phydura, an herbicide with clove oil as the active ingredient.

Vinegars: Horticultural vinegars are a popular mainstay of least-toxic alternative herbicides. They work in a similar way to the other herbicides above, but are quite harsh, and acutely toxic to weeds. It's important that customers follow the label and any protective equipment prescribed therein. Look for horticultural vinegars with at least 15% acetic acid, as any less will be much less effective. Bradfield carries a line of 20% vinegar products. Summerset Alldown was one of the first organic-approved herbicides, and contains a mixture of acetic acid and citric acid.

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