Home Depot’s “Welcome to Gardening”



The other day I walked into the Home Depot near me and noticed this enticement to enter the gardening part of the store – Kill, kill, kill those plants and bugs!  Not a plant in sight but plenty of plant-killers.  And this photo hardly conveys the impressive array of killing products extending as far as the eye could see.

I wonder what the Home Depot stores in Canada display in their gardening department, now that all pesticides have been removed from the shelves.  Maybe something that's more inviting? 


  1. I was just about to comment that I have never seen that….duh.. I live in Canada! But the Home Depots here don’t have a great plant selection, so you’re not missing too much 🙂

  2. If we had reliable and available alternatives to control cockroaches, fire ants, mosquitoes, silverfish, killer bees, weeds, wasps, rats, termites, mice, beetles, yellow jackets, flys etc. we could live without these pesticides which are mostly newer and safer chemistries for home use. It is not somebody else’s problem. You have to protect your children, pets and property. This isn’t Canada. Most of these pests can’t tolerate the cold and do not exist there. Stand in The Home Depot chemical aisle in the south and you will see desperate people all day long seeking advice. Many of them are sent there by the extension service for research based solutions. Yes we are using iron phosphate for slugs and snails because it is so much safer and now available. They sell baits and traps and clove and rosemary and citronella oils and boric acid solutions and people buy tons of that on their first attempt that often fail and then return for the chemicals that work better. Often they have wasted money. Without Amdro and similar safe baits, children and pets and livestock would be at risk of loosing their life to fire ants. The Home Depot sells $2 billion worth of plants a year grown by the best growers in the country and they are all backed by a guarantee. More than 1/3 of the retail plants sold in the US are purchased by happy repeat customers. I am but one of this group of great growers and stewards of the land. http://www.florida-agriculture.com/videos/flash/Ag_Environ_Award_2006_Riverview_Flower_Farm.htm

  3. Good news. There were organic choices in the chemical aisle at my local Home Depot.

    How do I know anything about their safety? Who does testing for organic landscape products?

    Reading Barbara Kingsolver’s, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral I learned a lot about USA’s government system for testing/labeling of ‘organic’.

    I did buy/use the sesame oil product Home Depot sold as an insecticide. Used only on boxwood, finally tired of seeing leafminer damage.

    I checked for beneficial insects first, knocking them off.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  4. There’s a better return on packaged chemicals than plants, and longer shelf life too.

    How many people a year lose their lives to fire ants, R. Brown?

    HD knows its customer base -they’re looking for this stuff. Its easy, it works, and all you have to do is buy it again and again and again over your lifetime.

    Nature hating is not a phrase spoken at your local HD.

  5. I do sometimes use poison on bugs. As an adult, it’s been about twice personally, and perhaps 3 times by maintenance staff in the various buildings I’ve lived in.

    For the times where I did it… we had flies. Clouds of 50+ per room, camped in our apartment with no food for them. My partner is rather phobic about them, and fly paper just wasn’t doing enough. If I herded them outside where the tasty rotting jujubes were, they’d come back inside hoping I had some on the living room floor. A very judicious poison application meant I had dead flies all at once.

    Maintenance is generally killing bees or wasps. I’m not a huge fan of that. But again, a lot of people are very phobic about social insect colonies. And sadly, we don’t have a good strategy for moving most kinds of wasps. (bees… not really much of an excuse)

  6. Look I get needing to remove yellow jackets or bald faced hornets from your yard or house, or if you live in the south having to combat the fire ants, that’s understood. However broad spectrum pesticides are killing more than just various flying insects, have a peek at this blog for a prime example http://mistressbeek.com/2010/06/10/yes-your-pesticides-are-killing-the-bees/ Think about what you are trying to kill and find out if there is a better way to do it. Tomato horn worms, did you know there is a beneficial wasp that preys on those? Oh how could you, you sprayed for everything that flies! It’s all tied together and people need to realize that! As for weeds I personally could care less if they are growing in the grass or anywhere else. If I don’t want them I’ll pull them out…by hand!!

  7. I am not advocating abuse, overuse or misuse in any way. My sister in law and my uncle and young cousin on my mothers side of the family are allergic to fire ants and that is quite common for allergic people to die if not treated quickly when stung. I am not overstating the seriousness of bee sting allergy’s and mosquito equine encephalitis. Certainly their are roundup resistant issues from overuse in Ag but not from homeowners who rely on this especially in the south in the rainy season. Gardening 101: If you spray your weeds around the fences and structures that harbor pests you won’t have worry about them migrating to your vegetables when they grow. If you can pull or mow them, great. If you can’t, roundup works well and is safe when used as directed. NYC and Flatbush and Buffalo are certainly less rural than the south and have many fewer pests than we do in Florida. Why single out 1 retailer when you can buy pest control anywhere?

  8. Another Canadian here. Same sort of display in our local Home Depots where I am except the products are Trounce and ChemFree brands, etc.

    Our town went completely pesticide free last year, and I never realized how many folks were treating their lawns until I saw the yellow fields of dandelions this spring, whereas in the past the lawns were emerald green. It felt terrific to be asked about my lee valley dandelion tool that I’ve been using since I moved here! Before the ban I’m sure some of my neighbours were laughing at the crazy lady.

    Just an aside to one of the commenters above, you must be thinking about another country when you say that most of these pests can’t tolerate the cold and do not exist here. Even the dreaded fire ants have made their way here.


  9. With all the continuous rainstorms rolling through Indiana, mosquitoes are being washed away…hooray! No need for overzealous spraying for these pesky guys,not that I would, and haven’t seen any Jap. beetles yet. I think I fire ants nested in my herb garden, these little buggers bite hard! I am not one to use any chemicals, and it ‘bugs’ the heck out of me when I shop at Lowes for birdseed, and such, all of the nasty chemicals happen to be in bird supply isle, the fumes from these containers are enough to make me want to throw-up, hightail out of there fast, after snatching a couple of suet cakes first, of course. Anything that smells like chemicals has got to be all around bad, I don’t care how many annoying insects you have! Use Neem oil, or Murphys soap, water, mineral oil on non-flowering plants. better yet, grow a diverse group of gardens, we have a wildlife refuge with wetland gardens, herb garden, veg. gardens, small fruit orchard, potato,onion and squash patches all on 1/3 acre city lot. All the insects from the diversity co-exist with each other, create more balance.

  10. Another Canadian here. I will have to agree with Gwelf. The Home Depots here look virtually the same, but with different brands. Our city is also pesticide free, and it is wonderful. I second the amazing capabilities of the dandelion puller. Chemicals have nothing on our sweat labour!

    For the previous commenter Rick Brown, do you think we all live in igloo’s man? Honestly we may not have your fire ants, but every place in the world has some variety harmful pests. Bugs do not exist only in the south. We have just decided here that that it’s not okay to wipe out an entire eco system just to get rid of one insect.

  11. Red imported fire ants are a HUGE problem in Texas, causing more than $1B of damage each year. They aren’t likely to kill people, but they can and do kill native plants and animals. Scientists believe that they cannot be eradicated, even using conventional pesticides, but they can be controlled or eliminated temporarily from small areas (i.e., your yard). Bait products are low-impact and not as likely to cause problems for beneficials as contact insecticides. In my opinion, the research does not support the efficacy of “home remedy” type solutions. Imported red fire ants will require a community-wide, consistent approach to management. And don’t even get me started on the crazy rasberry ant! Here’s more information on the fire ant:
    http://fireant.tamu.edu/ and the crazy rasberry ant:

  12. These emotional reactions about the use of pesticides can have a real detrimental effect on public health. Dengue fever, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes has been reported in Florida this year. Bedbugs are making a resurgence throughout the northeast. Ticks and lyme disease are also very real concerns.

    An informed gardener will look at the active ingredient in the product, and judge accordingly.

    Mosquito control Ultra Low Volume (ULV) sprays use, primarily, pyrethroids, compounds based on the natural chemical pyrethrum, that are more effective and safer to use than pyrethrum. A typical product will be a 3% solution of permethrin with a synergist, PBO, that makes it more effective at lower doses. For ULV operations, this solution is dispensed at a maximum label rate of 3 ounces per acre and applicators usually start at 1/4 the maximum rate. That translates to .225 ounces per acre. There are over 40,000 square feet in an acre.

  13. Compare the exact same active ingredient (permethrin) used as an over the counter medication to control head lice in children. A 1% solution is shampooed in an area (say one square foot) and left in for 10 minutes, and rinsed out, leaving a residual to control later hatching nits.

    The medicine to control the scabies mite, available by prescription, is a 5% solution of permethrin, rubbed into the skin, and left on for 8 hours.

    Amy Stewart’s clothing used to repel ticks and mosquitoes is permeated with permethrin and is good for several years.

  14. As far as Canada goes, malathion, an organophosphate, is the preferred poison used to control mosquitoes.

    You are exposed to more chemical pesticides playing a round of golf (exempt from Canadian restrictions) than anything off the shelf from Lowe’s or Home Depot.

    Barbara Kinsolver is a writer and novelist. For objective, science-based information, untainted by a political, or agribusiness agenda, stick to Jeff Gillman, Lee Reich, and Linda Chalker-Scott – whose books can be purchased from the links to the right. Or visit their blogs.

  15. Occasionally I stop, look at myself, and wonder why so much of gardening is killing. Even though I rarely use pesticides or fungicide, I kill (intentionally) a lot more plants than I nurture…

  16. I too am appalled by chemical warfare in the garden but I am glad there is plenty of good science to make informed decisions about proper application of pesticides in and around our homes. Information and availability to pesticides to protect our bodies from detrimental and damaging organisms and the land from invasive species is critical. Without roundup and other herbicides to hold back exotic invasive plants in our wild areas and waterways many of our natural areas and ecosystems would have already disappeared. The party of NO is the other guys. Lets use knowledge and common sense so we use pesticides only when and where they are necessary which is far short of total condemnation.

  17. I thank my lucky stars every time I shop at my local San Rafael Marin County CA Home Depot nursery.
    The nursery is on par with some of the best nurseries in United States.
    The guy who runs it , Charlie Rossi, is a seasoned horticultural veteran of the nursery industry.
    Your eyes would be blown out of their sockets if you walked into ‘his nursery’. Simply amazing.
    As far as the garden ‘hard stock’, it is not even kept in the same area of the nursery. You have to walk through the orchid and interior plantscape house to get to a bottle of Roundup or fertilizer.
    … thank you lucky stars.

  18. Oh, dear. Please don’t use Roundup and waterways in the same sentence; not a good combination. I’ll admit that I used to use Roundup and I believed it was safe. But I don’t any more. There is no weed in my yard so horrible that I would consider poisoning the toads.
    As for Home Depot… I have on occasion bought some plants at Home Depot. But what a depressing selection. Almost entirely annuals with oversize flowers that need full sun.

  19. Rick Brown,

    I lived in the Atlanta area and never used chemicals for cockroach control. Instead, I kept my kitchen clean and kept all food and trash sealed. Sure, there would be an occasional visitor, but usually it was just passing through. Never enough of a problem to warrant use of harmful chemical.

    In regard to mosquitoes, a ceiling fan or box fan running on a deck or above a porch will keep mosquitoes at bay when sitting outside in the evening because they are unable to fly in high wind. Again, a non-chemical approach.

    Weeds will die when doused with vinegar and this approach works especially well for those weeds that grow up in between bricks on a patio.

    These are just a few organic solutions that work and I know there are hundreds more. You make it sound like it isn’t worth it to look for safer alternatives and that people should just reach for the chemicals first.

    I am here to say that for the health of our environment our children, and ourselves, we should always look for safer alternatives to chemicals. There are great options out there worth considering and trying.

  20. Vinegar as an herbicide. Here’s the science:


    “Acetic acid concentrations over 11% can cause burns upon skin contact. Eye contact can result in severe burns and permanent corneal injury. The 25% acetic acid concentrations registered through EPA and the states for commercial use all have restricted entry intervals of 48 hours and list personal protection equipment to be used by the applicator. None of this safety information is included on the twist-tie information on the jug of Bradfield Horticultural Vinegar. Because the public is used to thinking of vinegar as something you can safely splash on your salad and eat they are generally unaware of potential dangers of a higher concentration.”

    This information has been available since 2002. Safer for the environment? Haven’t you heard of acid rain?

  21. Darcy,
    I commend you for clean living. Folks with children have a hard time keeping crumbs and worse in the kitchen and off the floor. I tell them about the baits they can buy at Home Depot which according to U of Fl are safe and effective and they work well for me. Sometimes the Argentine ants come in by the millions for a dime size crumb and we need a quick knock down with a permethrin and a broom and dust pan to clean them up. In my neighborhood we live with the super colony of Argentine Ants that is part of the largest colony of insects in the world. We have to be clean or they would totally take over the house. The good side of this is they eat all the other ground dwelling insects and slugs. We have a natural control for Fire Ants, termites and slugs. And we don’t have to pick up the dog poop any more either. I make sure we have gambusias(mosquito fish) in all the ponds and fountains in the neighborhood and we sprinkle Bt in the bromileads and plant saucers. We still get eaten alive by any one of 11 species of mosquitoes, depending on the time of year, when we garden or play outdoors. There are times when we have work to do and have to spray with Deep Woods Off. Belive it or not, I still call this place paradise.
    Emily, Roundup for the water is called Rodeo because it contains a surfactant. The DEP is the biggest user of this product on major aquatic invasive species like hydrilla and 25 others that clog streams, lakes and ponds. If you don’t need chemicals that is great. If you don’t like them, Ok but why bash the folks that are using them correctly. I too hate the way lawn and turf chemicals and fertilizers are abused and used against the label and the law. Rules and availability of bad chemicals have changed and continue to change for the good. Yes we all need to do much more but the Canadian solution is not practical.

  22. A Home DePot on par with the best nurseries in America?

    You must be smokin’ crack. DePot does not allow employees to care for anything especially the work it takes to run a nursery properly.

    Better check your credentials at the door next time. Anyone working on my home will not use DePot products. Anyone in the hort biz who buys their supplies at Depot is a traitor

  23. You can still buy skull-and-crossbones chemicals for insect control in Canada, specifically mosquito, hornet, termites, fleas, and plants that are poisonous to the touch (e.g., poison ivy). While pesticides have been banned by several Canadian provinces for *cosmetic* purposes (specifically in response to concerns about safe lawns), folks reading about home depot in this thread might assume we’ve banned every toxic substance. To be clear, bans vary by province (it’s not a federal ban) and where bans exist they specifically permit certain types of pesticides for use in and around the home to protect the health or safety of your family. There are also exceptions for agriculture, forestry, research and scientific purposes, and uses of pesticides for structural exterminations (e.g., in and around homes to control insects – e.g., termites) – and as someone pointed out, golf courses get a free ride on both cosmetic and pest control. I hope that’s helpful.

  24. 1. My best friend works at Home Depot, in the garden center, and she loves working there. She has a Master’s in Environmental Science, but could find NO OTHER JOB right now due to the economy. She’s the best gardener I know, too.

    2. I am about to LOSE MY MIND over fire ants in my garden. They are EVERYWHERE. I ground out a stump that was their home, and rather than die (and if you’ve ever seen a giant stump grinder, you’d think they would). NO, they just moved. And while they used to be sort of contained in the stump, they are now ALL OVER my vegetable gardens.

    If they were in my flower gardens, I wouldn’t care as much, because I don’t have to be IN them as much. But my veggies?

    Have any of you besides Rick ever been STUNG by a fire ant? Had them crawling up and down your legs, in your shoes, biting and biting and biting?

    If you had, would you BLAME people for trying to DO something about it?

    Fire ants LAUGH at boiling water.

    They LAUGH at mint spray.

    They LAUGH at vinegar.

    I don’t know where they came from, but having 1/3 of your yard covered in fire ant mounds is PURE HELL if you are a gardener.

    And, they’re nearly IMPOSSIBLE to get rid of, with synthetic chemicals or organic.

    They’re like the plague.

  25. I will accept that there are times where it may be necessary to use some of these chemicals. I just think most people are too quick to use them. The stores don’t have any good reason to suggest that customers NOT buy what they’re selling. And a lot of people are looking for a quick fix.
    As for Home Depot…I live in Pennsylvania and shop in Delaware. If I need some hardware, I will also wander into the garden center to see if they have anything I want. Very rarely they do. Almost everything is for full sun (exceptions are begonias and impatiens), very few natives and no interesting varieties. But if you are looking for annuals with very big flowers, you are in luck. It’s just not my kind of gardening.

  26. Dear Rick,
    Just ignore Gregg D. , he is an idiot and knows not what he speaks.
    Point in case, don’t comment if you haven’t seen the facts.
    The fact is the Home Depot in San Rafael is well known for its horticultural prowess, high quality, low prices and wide range of unusual plants.
    It is run by a nursery man with at least 40 years of experience that has has a tremendous amount of pride in his work.
    This nursery is fantastic and I purchase regularly from large wholesale and small independent nurseries up and down the Pacific coast.
    If you haven’t seen this nursery then I would hold your comment until you do.

  27. I was just going to suggest going to the outside nursery area of the store to find the plants. 😛

    I don’t generally use chemicals in my garden. I typically pull up stuff by hand, or cover it with newspaper or cardboard for weed control. Altho, there are some weeds (kudzu) that you just can’t pull.

    Bugs. I live in the SE US. It’s pretty buggy down here. Outside, we leave them alone (unless they are in my kids’ play areas.) Roaches aren’t just a cleanliness issue. When I lived in a rental house with my parents, even their very clean habits couldn’t win the roach war. Mostly due to the pine trees close to the house, where, apparently, the roaches were living. And don’t even get me started on ants!

  28. I can’t shop at Home Despot on really warm days because the odor off-gassed by the shelves of pesticides and herbicides knocks me flat.

    Call me what you will, I’ve actually spoken to local store managers asking why they cannot ixnay the RoundUp right at the entryway, and the passel of highly toxic ortho products. These things are known to be toxic, so maybe they should be available by request at the rear of the store, for example. The managers were so unreceptive I wondered if they even had a freaking pulse.

    When you put this crap right there, where everyone has to pass it, it is as good as slapping a seal of approval on its widespread and incompetent use, because who of us has neighbors who read instructions on the bottle? I know I don’t. There’s a reason I refer to a couple neighbors as Mr. and Mrs. Roundup.

  29. Reminds me of the Star Trek parody song…

    “We come in peace. Shoot to kill! Shoot to kill! Shoot to kill!”

  30. What it has to do with gardening: Everything is connected.
    I recently discovered a wasp nest on my shed door (inside). I admit to immediately feeling panic and thinking that I would have to buy a toxic spray. I took my time, first investigating less toxic sprays and then identifying the insect (paper wasps, not the more aggressive yellow jacket). In the process, I have learned so much about predatory wasps and even observed the wasps flying around my cauliflower plants on the hunt.
    You know, I may have to spray the nest in the end–if opening the shed door sets them off–but for now I am taking a wait and see approach. And I am opening the shed door carefully.
    I am so glad I did not immediately run out and buy a lethal product.

  31. ValHalla,

    Early in the Season, before there is much growth, it’s easy to just sweep the nest down. There is minimal need (from the wasps point of view) to protect that which has not yet been created. Their aggressiveness increases when protecting larvae, the queens offspring. The disrupted queen that you disturbed early in the season, will just fly away and start her nest in another location.

    If you are allergic to bee or wasp stings, this is not recommended.

  32. I have found the easiest way may not be the safest is to wait till it gets dark and they are not active and flying around then use either the broom or garden hose or what ever tool is long enough to reach and knock down the wasp nest. A little running maybe involved A couple of times of doing this when there in the early stages of nest building and they will build some where else.

  33. Yes, Zone8b, and just to repeat, this technique is not to be considered later when there are workers and larvae in the nest, that will agressively defend it. You also should check with your local county extension office, as different local conditions (zones, weather, etc.) can determine the when and whyfors in your area.

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