Home & Garden Pesticide Buying Guide

Protect your home, garden and lawn with herbicides and other pesticides. This guide will help you combat pests like carpenter ants and plant eating slugs. We’ll help you buy the right pesticide and deal with your specific problem safely and effectively.

Is Your House & Garden Under Attack?

Fight back against carpenter ants, plant-eating slugs, weeds, and other house and garden invaders. 

What Is a Pesticide?

A common misconception about pesticides is that they're bug killers. While partly true, insect control is only one use for pesticides. Here's the definition of a pesticide from the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA): "A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest." All pesticides must be tested, registered and carry a label approved by the CEPA. Despite the agricultural community's regular use of pesticides, homeowners are the number one users.Pests take many forms besides insects. The family of pesticides includes: 

  • Insecticides: Insect attractants and repellents, as well as flea collars for pets.
  • Herbicides: Plant defoliants and desiccants.
  • Rodenticides: Rat and mouse killers.
  • Germicide: Bathroom disinfectants.
  • Algicides: Including some pool chemicals.
  • Mildewcides: Contained in some cleaning products.
  • Fungicides, miticides, larvicides, ovicides, and more.

There are others that are not common to everyday consumers such as commercial chemicals that sterilize and regulate plant or animal growth.

Finding the Right Pesticide

Before you purchase or use any pesticide: 

  • Recognize the type of damage. Is it caused by insect, animal, disease or fungus? For example, if the leaves are curled on your plant, is it a virus or a sucking insect? If you don't actually see the pest, look for the type of damage that's being done. Holes in leaves usually indicate insect damage. Spots on leaves often mean disease. 
  • Identify the pest properly. Use your local co-op or other resource. A guidebook with illustrations of pests, weeds and plant diseases is a good investment and a valuable tool for a home gardener. 
  • Determine how extensive the damage is. Did you see one bug or spot or is the plant covered? 

Safety Note

All pesticides are dangerous if not used properly. Read the label carefully before purchasing and before using. Follow all manufacturer's instructions.

Types of Pesticides

Selective or Non-Selective

  • Selective pesticides are formulated to deal with a specific problem.
  • Non-selective pesticides indiscriminately kill anything that they contact.
 Systemic or Topical
  • Systemic pesticides are meant to be ingested by the target pest, working from the inside out.
  • Topical or contact pesticides are applied to the outer surface of the pest, working from the outside in.
 Pre-Emergent or Post-Emergent (Pertaining to Herbicides)
  • Pre-emergents deal with weeds in the dormant or seed stage before germination.
  • Post-emergents kill weeds after they've sprouted and are actively growing. Contact herbicides are post-emergents.
 Liquid, Powder or Granules
  • Liquids are easy to apply and stick to the surface when dry.
  • Powders or dusts are applied in their dry state. Wettable powders are mixed with water before application.
  • Granules are applied like powders, usually to the soil, but cause less dust.
 Concentrates or Premixed
  • Concentrates are mixed with a delivery medium (usually water) and sprayed.
  • Pre-mixed pesticides, usually in squirt bottles or aerosol cans, are ready-to-use.
 Synthetic or Organic
  • Synthetic pesticides are chemical compounds formulated to attack certain pests.
  • Organic pesticides serve the same purpose as synthetics, but are formulated from organic or other natural sources.

Application Methods

The application varies depending on the composition of the pesticide. The most common means of application are:

  • Aerosol or non-aerosol pump trigger sprayer
  • Duster
  • Compression sprayers
  • Backpack sprayers
  • Hose end sprayer
  • Bait traps

Types of Pesticides

As gardeners and homeowners, our reactions to insects or pests vary. For some of us, the sight of one bug sends us screaming into the next room — often to return with the bug spray. Others scratch their heads and watch while their prize plants are devoured. Learn about the different kinds of pesticides at your disposal that can fit your needs.


This type of pesticide deals with killing and/or preventing the growth of algae.


To kill parasitic fungi and their spores, use a fungicide.


This type of pesticide contains antimicrobial substances to get rid of germs.


Tackle weeds with chemicals specifically designed for them by using a herbicide.


Get rid of pesky insects and bugs with insecticide, whether using it commercially or privately.


To combat mildew, mold, and spore growth, use a mildewicide.


Nobody wants rodents living in their homes rent-free, and a rodenticide can help the problem.

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