We admit, reading a 'how-to' label doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing you could be doing on a Saturday afternoon. However, we see a few home gardeners getting into a stressful situation after using a pesticide product incorrectly, because they skipped reading the label.

When that happens with edible plants, it doesn't matter whether it's a delicious tomato with a bumper crop on the way, or a family heirloom lemon tree that has been a steady performer for generations, the response is always an unhappy one when we advise – as we are obliged to do – that the plant can't be considered ‘safe’ for consumption.

This is a heartbreaking situation that we don’t want to see if we can help it. We’ve put together a quick go-to guide on how to read a pesticide label in New Zealand, so that gardeners of all experience levels are empowered to comprehend label directions – and get it right, first time!

This advice is appropriate for other registered garden products as well, like fungicides, miticides and even herbicides.

Read it all…

The first step when considering using a pesticide product for the first time is to read the entire label in full. This will give you an overview of how the product can be used, but also of any particular warnings and cautions that should be observed – note these as a priority.

We're Here to Help!

Don’t forget, if these directions don’t seem to apply to your situation, or perhaps you are still trying to diagnose what exactly is going on in your particular case – we are available to answer your questions and help steer you in the right direction. There are few things we enjoy more than cracking a tough case, but most importantly we want all gardeners to be using our products in a safe and sustainable way.

When it comes to plant protection: if in doubt, give us a shout!

Understanding the ‘How to Use’ Table:

And now for the tricky bit. The entire product label, front and back (where applicable), does serve as a legal document of sorts; but it's this table that spells out the specific situations where the respective product can be applied. 

Note that this table rarely specifies any particular situations where the product cannot be used. So as a rule, if your intended use doesn't fit within a specified use on the ‘How to Use’ table: your intended use is not approved for the product in question. Please don’t use the product in this case.


Step 1: Finding your Plant

In the first column, check to see if your plant is listed. If none of the plants/plant groups listed include your own, please don’t use the product. Get in touch with us, as we may be able to suggest a suitable alternative for your application.

Step 2: Finding your Pest

In the second column, check to see if your targeted pest is listed. If none of the pests/pest groups listed include your own, please don’t use the product. We may be able to suggest a suitable alternative for your application.

Step 3: Mixing and Application Rates

In this column, included on concentrate products that require preparation before spraying, you can find the correct dilution and application rate details (such as the amount to be applied per square metre of lawn).

Step 4: How to Apply

In the final column, you should see concise directions for how and when to apply. These details are critical for safe, effective and environmentally sustainable use of the product. If you're unable to apply the product in line with these directions, please don’t use the product. Again, we may be able to suggest a suitable alternative for your application.

More Garden Advice

Protect your Garden in a Heatwave

Here are some mighty helpful tips to help your garden get through, and dare I say it even thrive, in the extreme heat. Be prepared and protect your garden.

Is Your Plant Looking Sad

If your plant is looking sad and not it's usual perky self, consider the last time you fed your plant.

How to read a Pesticide Label

Pesticide label directions should be followed at all times. They show what the product is and how to use it safely and effectively. They usually have the same sections arranged in a similar way.

Yates Seeds: Are they GM?

We often hear from gardeners wondering if our seed products are ‘GM’ (genetically modified). The short answer is they are not, but we understand that some uncertainty remains.