Wednesday, April 29, 2009

All quiet on the Ontario pesticide ban

May is on deck, which means dandelion season will be in full swing.

In Ontario, traditional herbicides for killing dandelions, plus a host of other garden pesticides, have been banned for use and sale by the provincial government. There has been very little controversy about this in the news, which surprises me a bit. No doubt the abundance of really bad news - swine flu panic and the tanking economy - has kept the pesticide ban off the front pages.

So how law-abiding are Ontarians going to be? Well, there was a lot of stock-piling going on, according to one garden center owner in London, Ont. Apparently, the hoarding started last fall when the news came that weed killers would be gone this spring.

The researchers at the Guelph Turfgrass Institute Ontario's Turf had this to say about the new law:
2009 certainly promises to be an exciting year in the turfgrass industry particularly here in Ontario with the introduction of the new Cosmetic Pesticide Ban. Critics have suggested that the ban is being rolled out with insufficient information and support for both professional turf managers and homeowners. Those in support of the ban see it as an opportunity to rethink our approach to management of greenspaces in the province. It will be interesting to see public reaction to the ban as it has been overshadowed by the constant stream of negative economic news dominating the popular media. Time will tell.
Dandelion control options: Here's the advice I have on my website about control of dandelions. (In case you're wondering, I do mention herbicides because most of my site visitors are in the US, where these products have not been banned.) More lawn care and weed control advice from the Guelph Turfgrass Institute dealing with the new reality is here.

Dandelions in the kitchen: If you can't beat them, eat them. South of the border, blogger and novice gardener Cindy Scott Day has been contemplating the humble dandelion as food. Her blog post traces how this yellow weed many of us love to loath came to North America as a food stuff. She even gives recipes. Read all about her explorations here.

Pesticides in agriculture: A farmer's point of view on possible ramifications.

© Yvonne Cunnington, Country Gardener


  1. Hey Yvonne

    Dandelions (from the French,Dent de Lion.....lion's tooth)are not all that bad although nearly impossible to dig out successfully! There is much folklore etc to do with these great survivors - I will do a blog soon I think. Very interesting to hear what is going on over there.

    Best wishes, Adrian

  2. Let me know when your post is up, Adrian. Dandelions are easy to grub out of flower beds when they are small. But they are hard to get out of turf.

  3. the ban won't affect me. I have such a small front and back yard that digging out the dandelions with a knife usually does the trick ( do you have any advice on getting rid of plantains...they are a far bigger problem for me) things should prove to be interesting on a larger scale....I have seen entire fields of dandelions taking over city parks.

  4. Plantain has very tough roots. I use a weeding knife to pry them up, and doing it when the ground is damp makes it easier.

  5. Hi Yvonne,

    WOW!! what a nice blog you have, the pics, etc. I feel like an idiot compared to your blog lol. Mine is not as good as yours. Keep up the good work. Yes I found you on pro blogger:).


  6. Was out and about the other day and somewhere, either Home Depot, Walmart or Canadian Tire, was still selling Round Up.

    Doesn't bother me, we're tearing out all the grass anyway.

  7. Dandilions put on an absolutely spectacular show at this time of year. Too bad that they are such a pest. Once - many years ago - I made wine using the open floweheads and it turned out quite nice.
    Personally I agree that most people have been using far too many pesticides and that most gardens can be kept just fine without them. I must admit though, that with the size of my current property the problems are not quite the same. Just keeping a 75 meter long gravel driveway free of weeds will be lots of extra work.
    Thanks for the link to "Under The Agridome". The article was very interesting and thought provoking.

  8. Hi Limette: You're right, Round Up is still sold, but officially you're only supposed to use it for poison ivy. Still, I'm sure that it will continue to be used by many people for all sorts of tough weeds because sometimes it's the only thing that really works.

    Salix: Amen, it is a pain the dandelions are such a pest. I agree with you that people with large properties will have a more difficult time taking care of them.

  9. Anonymous12:45 PM

    Hi i live in front of a sod farmer and would like to know if he is banned too. I tried the new weed preventor from scouts only time will tell,so far not to good want my weed killer back.And hope they spray for moths this year cost ne a fortune the last couple of years.

  10. To Anon:Sod farmers could not sell their product if it were full of weeds. They are classed as farmers, and they are allowed to spray herbicides under the new regulations. You're right: There are no products that are as effective as the ones that no longer allowed.

  11. Anonymous4:49 PM

    Hi Yvonne...Saw some great feedback here on your Country Gardner web page. My Question: Like yourself I also live near Hamilton on several acres of well kept property. We have three farms surrounding our home. Are there any excemptions for people like us regarding the use of these chemicals? Some time ago I read an article to this effect and wish I had kept it. Best Larry

  12. Hi Larry: No exemptions, even golf courses face tough new rules in 2010. See

    The only thing out there is Sarritor, and I think it's too expensive and difficult to use if you have an acreage. See for more info, as well as

    The advice everyone has is this: lower your expectations and get used to a weedy lawn and a weedy Ontario.


Thanks so much for visiting this site. I have a new country garden blog and I will no longer be publishing comments at this blog. If you have a question or comment about the topic here, please use the contact form at my new blog to get in touch with me.

-Yvonne, aka Country Gardener