Use of Weed Killers: By the council and in domestic use

Public interest has grown in the use of glyphosate, which is the ‘active ingredient’ in weed killer. Camden Council has worked with its contractor to ensure all frontline staff using herbicides are still professionally trained and use the correct level of Personal Protective Equipment. This includes gloves, overalls and eye protection. Camden has also reviewed its current approach to hard surface herbicide application on housing and parks hard standings, to ensure that only treat the areas that are in need get treated, thus minimising the amount used across the borough. Camden’s risk assessments and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health assessments for using glyphosate have been reviewed. This was completed as part of the suggested course of action listed by the GMB union in October 2018.

The level of public interest may lead residents to want to find out more about use of weed killer for domestic purposes, and with that in mind the council is sharing the advice below:
All garden chemicals on sale in the United Kingdom are safe when used according to the manufacturers' instructions. Most proprietary products have been issued with a MAPP or HSE number which can be found on the pack.

For the most effective and safe use of herbicides, rules should be observed: 

  • Select a chemical which is recommended for the particular purpose you have in mind. Always read the label before choosing or buying a product. 
  • Only buy enough product for a single season. For a small area a ready-to-use (RTU) spray is likely to be the best answer. 
  • Read the label and check for specific limitations or precautions. Wear rubber gloves, particularly when handling concentrates and spraying. 
  • Follow the instructions on the product label and apply the chemical at the stated rate and in the manner described. It is a legal requirement to comply with the Statutory Conditions indicated on the label.
  • Make sure you are spraying at the correct times and intervals. This is often crucial for the control of a weed. 
  • Unless specifically recommended by the manufacturer it is best to avoid mixing two different types of product
  • Avoid contact with exposed parts of the body, particularly the eyes. Wash off any splashes immediately with clean water
  • Avoid breathing in sprays. Wash after using sprays.
  • Exclude children and pets during spraying until the product has dried
  • Do not smoke, eat or drink while spraying
  • Spray sufficiently to wet the plants without excessive run-off or drift, but thoroughly wet the stems, buds and the underside as well as the upper surface of the leaves
  • Do not spray on windy or very sunny days
  • Clean all equipment after spraying. DO NOT use apparatus that have contained herbicides for the application of other substances such as fertilisers or water. 
  • Always try to make up only sufficient solution for the task. Any leftover spray should be sprayed onto plants specified on the label. 
  • Store chemicals in a safe place away from children and pets, keeping them tightly closed and in their original containers

It is essential you check the statutory conditions of use and directions of use on the herbicide label to check the situation in which the individual herbicide can be used. 

For more information on approved chemicals and safe pesticide use, visit the website of the Health and Safety Executive: