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Prepare to Store your Yard and Garden Products Properly for Winter

November 8, 2013

Editor's Note: This is part one of a two-part series on preparing yard and garden equipment for winter. This release focuses on proper storage of pesticides and products, and part two will discuss tools.

ST. CHARLES, Ill. – As the clocks get set back, do not fall behind on preparing your lawn and garden products for the coming winter. A little extra time this fall, may save you money and trouble next spring.

"Fertilizers, pesticides and other similar products need to be stored properly for effective future use," said University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator Richard Hentschel, who serves DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties. "In late fall, apply any small leftover quantities of these products as the label intended, that way you do not need to store them."

Hentschel also recommends only purchasing enough of a product to be used in a single season. "However, it is easy to buy the larger volume that's on sale, or to accumulate two or three bottles of the same product because it was misplaced or forgotten," he said.

In those cases, he offers the following tips on winterizing fertilizers, pesticides and other similar products so that homeowners may use them again in the spring.

First, sort out what items can be used up yet this fall, and what containers need to be stored.

Then, decide where to store the additional products this winter. "Choose a heated garage or shed, or the basement," said Hentschel. "Cool and dry is a good rule of thumb when storing granulars, dusts and powders. Liquids need to avoid extreme cold or hot."

If products will be stored in the house, under the sink is not the best place for them. Consider a shelf in a back room, or another inaccessible or even a locked place. "Make safety your top priority," advised Hentschel. "Keep products in their original containers, and store them up high or out of reach of children or pets."

Next, evaluate the products for viability before moving them to the chosen location. Always read the label and follow manufacturer recommendations. This may include product life expectancy, but if stored improperly, the products may lose efficacy faster. Helpful guidelines include:

  • Check product dates, if available. Generally speaking, liquids have a shelf-life of about two years when stored properly. Some formulations can last longer.
  • Old emulsified concentrates may look separated or will not mix well when added to water.
  • Liquids that have been through temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or above 100 degrees for an extended period of time will not be effective.
  • Dry products that no longer dissolve in water are not viable.
  • Dry materials, such as fertilizers or some insecticides, may clump together or appear partially dissolved in its container. "This means the product has already found moisture and activated. Therefore, it is likely no longer good," said Hentschel.

Finally, consider steps to help simplify the process next year, Hentschel said.

  • Use older products first. Look for a manufacturing date, if there is one, and also get in the habit of marking a purchase date when you buy a new product.
  • Buy fertilizers and pesticides in quantities that fit your needs.

For more information on handling household yard and garden products properly, visit www.thisland.illinois.edu/57ways/57ways_23.html.

To properly dispose of any materials, contact municipal or local authorities for process instructions in your area. Additionally, the Illinois EPA does periodically host one-day collections for disposal of household hazardous waste, and a long-term facility is located in Naperville. For more information on that process, call 630-420-6095.

For information on the University of Illinois Extension Horticulture programs in your county, visit web.extension.illinois.edu/dkk/. University of Illinois Extension provides educational programs and research-based information to help Illinois residents improve their quality of life, develop skills and solve problems. University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.


Source: Richard Hentschel, Extension Educator, Horticulture, hentsche@uiuc.edu