Licensed to Apply

August 5, 2020 | Justin Hill

Most people don’t put much thought into the care of their lawn.  Just put down the occasional fertilizer and spray the weeds every now and then.  For many, this is sufficient.  A person can put down those items on his own lawn without having to put any thought into the use of EPA regulated material.  But, when another person is hired to make those applications there are stringent requirements that must be met. Make sure that you aren’t hiring a mad scientist to wreak havoc on your lawn.

Anybody who puts chemicals on your lawn must have at least a Registered Technician certification issued by the state.  This basic level of certification is the first step to ensuring that the person making the applications has the knowledge needed to treat your lawn without damaging it. The Registered Technician must pass a test administered by the state to prove he knows the following:

  • Identify weeds and other pests properly
  • Read EPA labels correctly
  • Calculate mixture rates for the materials being used
  • How to handle the materials safely and responsibly
  • How to store, transport, and dispose of materials safely and responsibly
  • How to handle any spills that may occur
  • Proper personal safety equipment
  • How to determine the correct amount of material to use

All of this seems relatively simple, but one miscalculation on the part of the applicator can lead to disastrous outcomes for your lawn or even the applicator, himself.

  Misapplying material either through improper mixtures or misdiagnosis of the problem can lead to total lawn burnout.  Where there once was grass, only dirt will remain.

Every company that applies chemicals to your lawn is required to have a Commercial Applicator on staff.  The Commercial Applicator is responsible for overseeing the technicians and applications for the company.  A company cannot be licensed to apply chemicals without someone on staff having this designation.  The Commercial Applicator must pass a test similar to registered technician, but must also show superior knowledge of all the items outlined above.

In addition to having certified technicians, every company that applies these materials in your stead, must have a license to apply them issued by the state.  One of the requirements of having a license is tracking the materials that are put down on every property that company services.  Companies are required to keep track of all material, the temperature at time of application, wind speed and direction at time of application, and the square footage of all areas serviced.  All of this information must be kept for a period of two years and is subject to random inspections by the state’s agricultural department.  Random inspections can be done to ensure that companies are complying with above guidelines for record keeping as well as regulations regarding storage and transportation of all materials.

Part of the licensing agreement with the state also makes sure that the company has the proper insurance required to cover any mistakes that may happen as a result of misapplication.  Just like hiring a contractor that does not have the proper licenses (see previous blog), you, the home owner, will be on the hook for any damages that may occur.  Unlike hiring a contractor to work on your property, however, the damages resulting from improper chemical applications can reach well past the boundaries of your home, neighborhood, or even your own county.  Serious fines can be levied against an employer for the misuse of EPA regulated materials, and when the company doesn’t have the proper licenses, they cease to be a legitimate business entity.  When the company you hire doesn’t exist in the eyes of the state, then you, the homeowner, become the liable party.

The regulations regarding chemical application are really about being a good steward for the environment.  As a member of the Green Industry, it a landscape companies responsibility to manage the use of chemicals in such a way that we are enhancing the environment, not harming it. Misapplications and simple mistakes can have serious ramifications on the Chesapeake Bay watershed area for years to come.  Please make sure to ask your provider about the licenses mentioned above.  It’s about more than following the rules, or keeping yourself safe from liability.  It’s about keeping our planet safe from harm.

Chem Licenses