Using chemicals in gardening probably attracts more debate than most other issues. There are those who have always used traditional herbicides insecticides and fungicides to control insects, weeds and to protect plants from disease and they will swear by their benefits and positive effects.
On the other hand, organic gardeners will say that a garden is supposed to reflect nature and the environment in which it exists and that the use of chemicals disrupts the natural eco-system. Not only that, they’d point to the dangers of potentially harmful chemicals on the environment and for the people that are using them.
There are other articles on this website which highlight some of the benefits of organic gardening and how to control unwanted pests, weeds and plant disease without resorting to chemicals but this article seeks to redress that balance by highlighting some of the reasons why gardeners still choose chemicals as the most effective way to nurture their garden.
Reason for Chemicals
Gardens need a lot of looking after. Left unattended, it doesn’t take too long for things to get out of control. Weeds can spread rapidly which can suffocate plants, including certain flowers which provide nectar which is a necessity for insect life. Slugs, snails and other insects can devastate foliage and infestations of some insects can cause disease to take hold of plants. Using chemicals safely correctly and in an appropriate manner enables a garden to flourish and produces healthier plants. This subsequently produces more nectar, berries, fruit and increases biodiversity.
The chemicals make it quicker and easier to manage our gardens and to keep them healthy. Those who advocate organic gardening techniques have many valid reasons to criticise the use of chemicals but unless you have a lot of time to invest in your gardening, to go totally organic may not be a viable option as it can be so time consuming and hard work to keep plants healthy and to keep them free from unwanted pests and some of us simply do not have the time to do that.
When Organic Solutions Won’t do
Sometimes only a chemical solution can solve a particular gardening problem. There may be a fungus present which is killing one of your prized shrubs or a group of insects have taken a particular shine to a plant or tree and are slowly killing it. In these cases, you may not simply be able to remove and treat the problem naturally. The important thing, however, is to seek advice from your garden centre and try to find a chemical solution which has the least damaging side effects to the rest of your garden.
Striking a Balance
Most of the time, its ignorance that causes gardeners who advocate the use of chemicals which gets them a bad name. They see an insect and they’re rushing to the shed for their spray gun. What’s crucial is to try to strike a balance between letting nature run its course whilst simultaneously taking action against anything which threatens to put the health of your plants in jeopardy so, in essence, it’s all about education and knowledge as we’re all aware that many insects rely on plants for survival and vice versa so it’s not necessarily the case that all of them need to be destroyed and, in doing so, you may be removing the very creatures that, unknowingly, might be keeping more dangerous pests at bay. Quite often, it’s the abundance of a variety of different species that maintains the health of a garden and which act as the natural control mechanisms to keep it healthy.
Safety with Chemicals
If you do decide that using chemicals is the only way you can manage your garden effectively, be sure to fully understand the types of chemicals you are using, what their purpose is and how to use them safely. Be sure to store them away safely after use and learn about how you must dispose of any leftover chemicals. Your local garden centre will be able to tell you the correct procedure for using and disposing of chemicals and you should always stick to the instructions on the packaging to the letter and to wear any protective equipment that is recommended.
Remember too, if you have pets and/or young children that using chemicals on your garden can be lethal if you don’t know what you’re doing.