Chemicals and your garden

Pesticides and fertilisers can be harmful if used incorrectly, so use chemicals with care.

While they are helpful in gardening, pesticides and fertilisers can be harmful to the environment if used incorrectly. Sprays can drift in the wind and powders can wash into waterways, moving from gardens into the natural environment.

Strong chemicals can kill our native insects, plants and animals. Too much fertiliser can put extra nutrients in our creeks and result in blue-green algae growing out of control and harming animals and people.

Reducing Chemicals in Your Garden

  • Many insects in the garden such as ladybirds are “good guys” that will hunt and eat pests such as aphids. If you spray lots of chemicals in your garden you will also kill these beneficial insects and make your pest problem harder to control. Multi sprays in particular kill anything they touch.
  • Too much fertiliser makes plants produce a lot of leafy growth that often becomes a target for pests.
  • Organic fertilisers such as compost, manures, seaweed and fish emulsion break down more slowly than synthetic (chemical) fertilisers and generally match the rate at which plants need the nutrients.
  • Synthetic fertilisers break down quickly and can ‘burn’ plant roots.
  • Organic fertilisers improve the soil structure meaning the soil is better able to hold water and make it available to plants.
  • Synthetic fertilisers add nothing to the soil structure and tend to move easily from the soil after heavy rain or watering.
  • When a plant looks sick the worst thing you can do is feed it.

Download the Low Environmental Damage Chemicals Factsheet